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This is a remote interview with Galen Joseph-Hunter. This interview was conducted on June 9, 2021 via Zoom. Galen is located in Acra, NY. During the interview, Galen discusses several topics, including the origin of her name, her interest in broadcast media, gentrification, local politics, and youth programming. Galen views herself as a curator and an administrator in the arts but does not self-identify as an artist. The interview begins with Galen discussing the background of her androgynous first name. She relates how her androgynous name has provided her with some advantages and disadvantages and pondered how her name relates to contemporary notions of gender fluidity. Her last name is a hyphenated combination of both her parents’ last names. Galen was born in NY state and currently lives west of Hudson in Acra with her husband and daughter. When she was 4 years old, Galen moved to Florida, which is where she grew up. She returned to New York to attend Bard College and views New York as home. Galen describes how the development of her interest in transmission-based artwork was inspired by the work of Vito Acconci, whose work she encountered while studying art history at Bard. Galen became involved in a microradio collective in Brooklyn, NY in 2000, when she met her husband Tom Roe. The microradio collective was part of the effort to create pathways for communities to legally use airwaves for low power broadcasting. The efforts led to a change in federal law, which allowed for the licensure of community based low power FM radio stations. Galen recollected the 2011 opening of the full power radio station, WGXC 90.7 FM, in Hudson. WGXC is a program of the arts organization Wave Farm, for which Joseph-Hunter serves as Executive Director. She discusses the development of the station over the years and describes an event that took place on May 26, 2021, which celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the station. Galen discusses community dynamics in Acra and Hudson. She describes her organization’s work with a community outreach program that focuses on introducing arts to incarcerated youth, the majority of whom are youth of color. She discusses how she became involved in the project and describes some of the youth who participated in the program. This work ties into local politics and the election of Hudson’s first African American mayor, Kamal Johnson, who is also involved with Wave Farms programs. Although the pandemic led to a pause in the project, Galen is looking forward to the Wave Farm resuming this summer. Galen also discusses some of the racial and political dynamics in Acra and Hudson, with Acra being more conservative and Hudson as more diverse. She reveals some of the tensions that exist and how the River serves as a sort of political boundary.This interview would be of interest to those who would like to would like to learn about the cultures of Acra and Hudson, New York; broadcast media, art installations, low power radio, microradio, youth interventions, gentrification, and the impact of arts on community.Word List:AcraArtistsBroadcast MediaGentrificationHudsonInstallation ArtKamal JohnsonMicroradioMuseum of Modern Art (MOMA)NYSCARadioVito AcconciWave FarmWGXC
Mischelle Van Brakle is a professor of criminology and criminal justice. She works as a full-time lecturer at California State University Long Beach and as an adjunct faculty member at University of Southern California. She is interested in pursuing oral history as a means for advancing the interests of indigenous communities.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.
Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”