Le Mix des Cultures
des aventures de la radios HDR, avec des belles photos de la vie de
la radio. Toutes les photos en Noir et Blanc ont été
prises par Frédéric Favre.
Aka Dj Dji... Grand spécialiste du Hip-Hop
Le Grand Moment,
un article dans le Time
15, 1999 Vol. 153 No. 6
Broadcasting from the Banlieue
A Rouen radio station mirrors its milieu with an eclectic programming
BY BRUCE CRUMLEY
it has in past years, a winter of discontent has settled upon
the slum-like housing projects, or banlieues, that surround
most of the nation's cities. Once again, scenes of burning cars,
defiant rioting youths, and the outrage of fellow residents
have become standard fare on the evening news. But as politicians
point fingers and argue about ways to address suburban decay,
a group of enterprising youths from the projects around the
Norman city of Rouen have taken action, offering an example
of self-help that may be the best way for the banlieues to survive.
le mix des cultures,
et l'eldorado des DJ !
March, 1998, Radio HDR (for Hauts de Rouen, or Hills of Rouen)
has been operating as a local FM station, broadcasting music,
interviews, news, commentary and criticism that serves the interests
and concerns of the 40,000 residents in the suburban area it
covers. Founded by 27-year-old Moise Gomis, with funding from
national and local organizations, Radio HDR may be the best
outlet these disenfranchised and disillusioned citizens--over
50% of whom are unemployed--have ever had. "The idea is
to give people here a place to speak their mind, and hear the
news and debate pertinent to life in the banlieue", says
Gomis, the son of immigrant parents from Guinea-Bissau and the
holder of a degree in journalism. "National and regional
media can't do that."
if listeners expect programming pandering to the sense of abandonment
and anger permeating most French projects, they soon learn otherwise.
In feisty and flamboyant tough-love editorials delivered during
his daily program, Gomis does acknowledge that many of the ills
plaguing banlieues have external sources: unemployment, police
harassment and a prevailing view of banlieusards as disruptive
and prone to crime. But he also maintains that rioting, burning
cars and stoning emergency vehicles are ultimately self-defeating.
"A little girl died of meningitis here over New Year's
because the ambulance turned up hours after the call",
Gomis explains from Radio HDR's three-room studio in a housing
project youth center. "The driver knew that ambulances
can get attacked in the banlieues. Kids with no hope, angry
at being shut up here, at times try to punish the symbols of
larger society they see. You understand the anger, but that
violence is intolerable. It hurts us all in the end." Gomis
is also mindful of how news of banlieue violence elsewhere may
affect HDR's listeners. "The guys burning cars in Strasbourg
and Toulouse are idiots", he says of recent violence. "But,
they feel the same anger people here do."
aperçu du studio pendant "Situation Critique"
however, isn't HDR's primary activity. Sober but hip, it aims
to provide examples of how banlieue life is working--the weekly
Normandy: Land of Contrasts, for example, tracks the hurdles
and triumphs of local immigrants trying to integrate--and showcase
banlieue street culture in programs like Don't Get Caught. It
also provides activities : young people from the community are
welcome to devise projects and programming for the station.
"This allows you to work at something you like, and also
deal with issues and messages important to people who live here,"
says Karim, 24, a volunteer who co-hosts a weekly music show.
"Even if HDR isn't out to be 'big business,' Moise expects
people to be as professional as they can."Gomis also brings
on guests--usually residents--whose lives may provide some sort
of inspiration or whose views are instructive: the president
of Rouen's annual African film festival, for instance, or a
banlieue mother explaining the demoralizing effects that property
destruction and open drug consumption have on project residents.
Cherif Kane oversees HDR's Budding Reporter series, which trains
groups of students from the area's troubled grade schools to
research, write and produce their own thematic programs. "We
teach them to express themselves well, which is really the first
part of learning how to be a productive citizen," says
Kane, a former Radio France Internationale correspondent. "Our
success with local students has led schools from really good
areas of Rouen to ask to participate. But we have to remember
who all this is for."
Sagawa, dans sa célèbre imitation du Schtroumph
now, HDR only runs free ads promoting local events and businesses
and public service messages. Gomis admits he'd consider selling
space to paying advertisers if asked, but insists that "the
profit motive in this venture is helping the community, and
we're seeing payoffs there."
appeal may increase considerably in June, when Gomis expects
to gain approval for moving his antenna and increasing the potential
audience beyond the 400,000 residents of Rouen to other suburbs,
both poor and affluent. HDR's banlieue focus might then undermine
a cruel irony of French society: while the fashions, music and
patois of the banlieues have become standard cool for youth
all over the nation, few actually dare venture into the neighborhoods
that produced them. If HDR allows city dwellers to start listening
to the real sounds of the banlieue, that might be the beginning
of the end of the isolation of France's suburbs.
Muffin, aka Barok, dans la mythique émission du soir...
Son chien Titus n'est pas sur la photo...