In the half-light of the studio, Dominique Goetz, journalist and director of Radio BIP, wonders if all this is a good idea. If this item will not “put a coin back into the machine”. The machine is that of the degradations which target this local associative radio station established in Besançon since 1977. On May 28, a window of the garage door is broken and a poster torn off. Worse still, on the night of May 2, the large premises occupied by the station since 1983 was robbed, the glass door broken, the lock forced and four cameras worth 11,000 euros were stolen.

Half of the amount has since been raised through an online appeal for donations. Friends have lent money to buy new cameras, the glass has been replaced by plywood, but the fear is there. “Is this a heinous theft or are we being targeted for dealing with certain topics? asks Emma Audrey, reporter.

Bacon in the mailbox

Who could blame this historic radio? The two employees and the fifty or so volunteers produce reports, press reviews committed to the left, reading or even history programs. “We deal with human rights, we give voice to the homeless, to teachers, to associations for the reception of migrants, prostitutes. Our enemy is the far right, ”explains Emma Audrey.

For Anthony Poulin, deputy mayor EELV in charge of finance, sustainable development and resilience, radio BIP “is an important medium for all local community and cultural life. Anti-racist, he covers many topics in the fields of social justice. In 2016, his treatment of the far right and immigration earned Radio BIP “a piece of bacon in the mailbox, an attack reserved for mosques and Muslim bookstores”, according to “Toufik-de- Planoise,” a station volunteer.

The editorial line has not moved a comma since the birth of this pirate radio station in 1977. At the time, the state monopoly controlled the airwaves with only seven authorized stations. It was then that antennas began to occupy virgin FM band frequencies with makeshift equipment. In Besançon, about fifteen young people are looking for a place in height to broadcast a program devoted to human rights. “I lived in an apartment on the tenth floor, they recorded the premiere from my house,” recalls Henri Lombardi, founding member and president of Radio BIP.

A bunch of “wacky left-leaning environmentalist idealists”

The station was then called Radio 25, and it talked about “ecology, human rights, foreigners’ rights and a lot of Palestine,” he said. The weekly program is mainly listened to by a few buddies and general intelligence who monitor this band of “left-leaning and wacky ecological idealists”, according to the archives consulted by the history student Géraud Bouvrot.

Henri Lombardi will buy a more powerful transmitter in Italy. “We would put it in a backpack to broadcast from a hill and sometimes on the way down we would get caught by the police,” he recalls. On several occasions, members of the radio were arrested, imprisoned and fined, but the station continued to broadcast.

When the airwaves were released in November 1981, Radio 25 became Radio BIP for Bisontine, Independent and Popular. The small-format notebooks of Jean-Jacques Boy, one of the founders, testify to this entire era. “Saturday, December 5, 1987: Malik Oussekine, his assassins are free,” he notes in neat schoolboy handwriting for the first anniversary of the student’s death. Then the 1990s marked a slowdown. Without advertising, there is no money. “We couldn’t pay our employees, we were struggling, we thought about selling the frequency, but we held on,” says Henri Lombardi.

At odds with the police

After difficult years, Radio BIP experienced a new start with the arrival of Emma Audrey, a jack-of-all-trades who launched Media 25, the radio’s website. At 43, the reporter of Romanian origin has kept a curiosity from her youth under the dictatorship, a bulimia to find out. Fine arts, IT, journalism, she follows various studies, is particularly interested in social injustices.

During the “yellow vests” movement, Emma Audrey filmed all the demonstrations and, in October 2019, she released the video of a protester being beaten by a police officer. The images go viral, an investigation by the IGPN is launched before being closed without further action. In January 2020, it was again on the basis of images by Emma Audrey showing a police officer insulting a demonstrator that another investigation by the IGPN was triggered.

This treatment is not to the liking of the local police. For Thierry Silvand, police officer in Besançon and departmental secretary of the Alternative Police CFDT union, “the media has become radicalized. They do not miss a demonstration of leftists and concentrate on the police and not on the violence of the demonstrators. Radio BIP has become anti-cop and anti-state,” he complains.

Emma Audrey denies it. “I’m a journalist, I put my camera down and show what’s going on. The two employees fear that the police will not take the burglary complaint seriously because of the videos of Emma Audrey. Thierry Silvand denies any specific treatment. A month after the attack, the slightest suspicious sound still startles Emma Audrey, who wonders: “If someone really thinks that we are anti-state, what will happen? Am I not going to put a bulletproof vest in the studio anyway? »