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News Archive: July 2004

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7/27/04 - KFAR: Burgled in Knoxville [link to this story]

Knoxville's First Amendment Radio reports the break-in happened two weeks ago. The station broadcasts from a trailer (ex-crackhaus) and have put a lot of work into the place. The thieves basically made off with stuff that was not bolted down: a computer, monitor, printer, small television, two CD/MP3 players, microphone and headphones, and assorted cabling. Nothing in the transmission chain was touched.

This thread on the station's message board hints that there may have been witnesses (including a phone company worker who inadvertently loaned the burglars some wire cutters), yet it remains to be seen just how hard a police force will work on a case involving a pirate station as victim.

7/23/04 - FCC Gets Earful in Monterey; LPFM Bill Advances from Senate Committee [link to this story]

First the news from Washington: John McCain's bill to expand the FCC's LPFM service cleared the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday, but not without some last-minute chicanery - an amendment has been added that exempts the state of New Jersey from any expansion (if it occurs).

Now it must clear the full Senate and House of Representatives, where the odds are not as good. However, Prometheus reports that some of the religious LPFMers are leaning on GOP congresscritters pretty hard, so there's still some hope.

More fun was definitely had in Monterey, CA during the FCC's Localism Task Force hearing Wednesday. Skidmark Bob's culled several clips from the public comment period - my favorite comes from an "unknown pirate":

"Go back to D.C. and make your rules; we'll continue to break them." And the crowd goes wild! No word yet on whether or not anyone actually broadcast from the event.

Freak Radio recently got a pretty fair shake in a local TV newscast, of all places. Bob's copy of the audio track even contains some halfway friendly and somewhat knowledgeable closing chatter from the anchor. You really can't knock that kind of exposure.

7/21/04 - Florida War on Pirates: Mobilizing the Troops [link to this story]

On Tuesday "more than 50 radio managers and owners a meeting of the Florida Sheriffs Association at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood," according to the Miami Herald. "Their goal: To plot strategy on taking small-time, illegal operators off the air."

The Broward County Sheriff's office claims to have shut down "a dozen stations in the past 18 months," while an estimated three dozen remain on the air in south Florida. "It takes ruthless, local law enforcement tactics," said Sheriff's Captain Larry DeFuria. At least two attorneys from the Florida Association of Broadcasters were also present at the meeting, undoubtedly for purposes of coaching the best ways to apply the smackdown.

The article's hype factor does not stop there. Some of the stinkiest nuggets emanate from one of the sponsors of the (successful) drive to criminalize pirate radio in Florida; the president of a public station (who lobbied for the measure); and one Roy Pressman, a broadcast consultant who says "there's a chance people could die" from interference caused by unlicensed broadcasters.

Even worse, the FCC appears to have endorsed this new state law. That's the suggestion in an article in the south Florida Sun-Sentinel, which quotes Tampa-based FCC District Field Office Director Ralph Barlow: "Under this new law, we don't have to be called at all."

Before I even had a chance to start puzzling the interesting legal dilemma presented by that statement, I heard Signal Finder's nipples poink to attention all the way from Wisconsin.

7/19/04 - Limited Audience in Monterey Provides Fodder for Protest [link to this story]

As the FCC is only letting 400 people into its public hearing on "localism" in Monterey, California this Thursday - and only a portion of those 400 will be allowed to speak - the public is being encouraged to gather outside the hearing venue and make some noise.

They'll be supplemented by microradio activists who plan to conduct a remote broadcast in protest of the general lack of public access to radio (as well as to the hearing itself). At least one group may set up a PA system to relay the events inside to those outside; perhaps some of the hearing may also be rebroadcast this way.

That would certainly provide a more concrete definition of "localism" than current usage of the term does; generally "localism" seems to insinuate something radio needs/lacks, yet nobody has bothered to actually nail down. Learn by doing, teach by doing. It will not be the first time a microbroadcast has welcomed the arrival of an FCC "localism" hearing, but it will be the first to flip the RF bird directly at the gathering.

7/17/04 - LPFM Expansion Bill to Clear Committee [link to this story]

S. 2505 - the bill to expand LPFM back out to its original parameters as defined in 2000 - is expected to clear the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday. This is somewhat of a no-brainer as S. 2505's sponsor, John McCain (R-AZ) also happens to be committee chairman.

At present the bill has just two co-sponsors. Remember that it must still clear both the House and Senate and survive a presidential veto (expected but not yet promised). There's always a chance that S. 2505 could become a "rider" to other legislation, a common legislative shortcut used when Congress has a backlog (as is the case presently). Then again, it could always be scuttled in exchange for the support of other measures with more political capital.

The Free Press lobbying crew has been quiet; Congress adjourns for its summer break at the end of this month and won't return until September. Adjournment of the 108th Congress is tentatively scheduled for October 1 - leaving roughly five weeks' worth of "business" left in which to push this puppy through.

7/14/04 - Bad News (Double Dose) [link to this story]

The first is the FCC's decision to set aside an earlier ruling that suspended approval for an Oregon commercial radio station to move closer to Seattle - a move which will force Mercer Island High School's KMIH-FM off the air. The set-aside effectively puts the school's station back in the gallows.

KMIH General Manager Nick DeVogel says, "This decision is ripe for reconsideration and appeal, and we implore the Commission to do just that."

I learned of the second piece of bad news at the end of Commander and Chief Radio vol. 7 (Bushkiller), when producer and collagist extraordinaire Skidmark Bob made the following announcement:

Now at this time your host and producer is out of a job and needing income. If you'd like to help support this program, or know of any editing work you can throw my way, please e-mail me today to I cannot cover the rent and bills I may have to cease producing these types of programs due to being homeless.

It would not be the first time for Bob (who is also a single father) - but once is more than enough. Money and love are both appreciated: money's better for paying the bills but in situations like these it never hurts to have a little extra love around.

7/13/04 - LPAM Petition Revival Effort; FCC Tomfoolery Planned for Monterey [link to this story]

What with the FCC in the midst of a spasm of public backlash (recently magnified by the judicial bodyslam given its media ownership work), a new effort is afoot to resurrect a petition for rulemaking to consider the establishment of a low-power AM radio service. Such a petition was actually tendered to the FCC more than a year ago but, like other selected documents, it entered the agency's maw and disappeared.

The "revival petition" asks the FCC to finally respond to the LPAM request made in mid-2003; it will be submitted as a part of the agency's ongoing inquiry into localism. Don Schellhardt is collecting signatures; if you'd like to be included e-mail him and include your contact information for the petition's purposes. The initial plan called for submission to the FCC by tomorrow but that may be a bit flexible, and follow-up filings can be made to include more signatories.

Speaking of that roving "localism task force": it is getting creative with crowd control technique. Its next "public hearing" will take place on Wednesday, July 21 in Monterey, California, and (free) tickets are now required for admission. Those who get tickets will then enjoy navigating "two levels of random selection" and some convolution involving television screens and group numbers before finding out if they will even be allowed to approach the microphone. Those who get lucky are urged to "keep your remarks brief - to no more than two (2) minutes." Best of luck to those who brave the gauntlets.

7/9/04 - New Microradio Documentary Features Tucson Stations [link to this story]

Coming soon to a DVD player near you: Making Waves, a documentary about a cluster of microradio stations in one Arizona city and the people behind them. I suspect it will an interesting cross-section of American microbroadcasting in a post-LPFM world. Expect a review here in the future.

The 66-minute show premiered at the Arizona Film Festival in April and ran for a week on Tucson's public access cable channel last month. Producer Michael Lahey says a web site about the work is forthcoming.

Making Waves represents another perspective on a movement which has been chronicled in other locales (as well as nationally); each one is an important snapshot of media activism in action.

At least one other (big) documentary on microradio is in the works; production on that particular tale has been ongoing for at least the last four years and as of yet there's no release date in sight.

7/6/04 - Translator Invasion's Impact on LPFM Quantified [link to this story]

REC Networks again with the numbers, which don't look good:

We surveyed 10,000 census designated communities, which if the translator applications that were filed during the March 2003 (Great Translator Invasion) window did not exist would be able to have some form of LPFM:

The total census population that represents these communities.................35,254,379

5,554 of these communities would have at least one fully spaced (non-interference) channel............15,142,666

In the study:

Highest population was Charlotte, NC .. 540,828
Lowest population was Butler, OK ...... 345

Because of the Great Translator Invasion:

15.9% (1591) of the 10,000 study communities representing 11,469,351 (32.5%) in population have lost the opportunity to have any LPFM (LP-100) service in their community.

Even more painful:

58% (58) of the TOP-100 communities (Charlotte was #1, #100 was Beloit, WI with a population of 36,145) representing 66.7% (4,496,643 people) of the population in the Top 100 LPFM-qualified areas have the possibility of any future LPFM service because of the GTI.

Read on for the full preliminary report, including a glimpse at a community "casualties" list, which I have further linkified so as to better illustrate the perpetrators. Make sure to check with REC as the data gets refined.

7/4/04 - LPFM Tidbits of Note [link to this story]

Outgoing Amherst Alliance president Don Schellhardt breaks things down micro-legislatively with regard to S.2505, the Low Power Radio Act. He also notes that Senator Maria Cantwell has introduced promised leigslation to protect certain "Class D" old-style LPFM stations from being bumped off the air. That bill, the "Educational Radio Protection Act," currently has no sponsors.

In a bid to drum up lobbying for low power radio, Free Press and the Prometheus Radio Project are sponsoring a contest of sorts: LPFM Idol offers as its grand prize a trip to Washington, D.C. to the LPFM station who can generate the most constituent agitation to congresscritters.

For those interested in watching how the dynamics of FCC licensing decisions at the local level affect planned or existing LPFM stations, REC Networks has begun a Yahoo group (reclpfm) for their Encroachment and Activity reports. REC continues to lead the way when it comes to humanizing the mass of information processed by the FCC; tracking their info feeds is like watching the health of the LPFM service as a whole in near-realtime.