Broadcasting through the end of the month, Radio Coyote features experimental music, archival recordings, interviews, and improvisational content. The standalone project, available at 88.1 FM or online at radiocoyote.org, is orchestrated by 2020-2021 Capp Street Artist-in-Residence Raven Chacon, a composer, performer, and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation in Arizona, under the sponsorship of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.
“It’s a way to spread sound into other people’s homes, and it seemed appropriate when there have been no live concerts,” Chacon said. “It’s a way to broadcast and communicate, but there are interactions on social media and live improvisational performances at the Wattis Institute and throughout the Bay Area.”
Radio Coyote features guest DJs, musicians, composers, artists, and educators Michael Begay, Ginger Dunnill, A. Smiley, Mark Trecka, and Zachary James Watkins. Chacon also presents KsssKsssKsss, his record label catalog of limited release recordings over the past 20 years. The content was originally released on cassettes and 7-inch records.
“All of the guest DJs are folks I’ve collaborated with before,” Chacon said. “I’m a fan of their work and I like the way they think not only in terms of sound, but all of them also are very conscious of contemporary issues, current topics of the day. I feel the five of them all address those topics through the work they’re sharing through their programming.”
Begay focuses on stories of young people from Native American communities who have been hard-hit by COVID-19, discussing those experiences along with systemic inequities. Smiley features interviews with Bay Area artists of color.
Radio Coyote’s main purpose, though, is to share sounds, Chacon said. “I wasn’t a fan of watching streaming concerts at the beginning of lockdown,” he said. “It’s a nice idea for people to do concerts from their living room but I found myself not interested in watching those. We have all become busy and distracted and radio seemed like something familiar that can be part of the day.”
Radio Coyote runs 24 hours a day; some programs are broadcast multiple times.
“Listening to the radio is a way to eliminate fatigue from clicking links at a certain time because it’s always there, it’s always available,” Chacon said. “You don’t have to make a decision and if you don’t like what’s on, you can come back at another time.”
Chacon launched Radio Coyote with a live, hour-long performance visible through the Wattis Institute’s windows at 360 Kansas Street on April 1. He and his collaborators hope to do more in-person events.
As part of his residency Chacon teaches a graduate-level fine arts course at the California College of the Arts. “Scores for Sound and Narrative” focuses on the creation of graphic, text, and Western-notated scores that relay extra-musical narratives or calls-to-action.
“I’m happy the California College of the Arts Wattis Institute invited me and gave me a platform to do this,” he said. “I’m grateful to have that opportunity.”