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News Archive: November 2005

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11/29/05 - Pirate Radio USA Producers Speak [link to this story]

Paul the Mediageek interviewed the producers of the still-forthcoming documentary Pirate Radio USA, Jeff Pearson and Mary Jones (aka DJs "Him" and "Her"), for his latest radioshow. That, and a podcast-only supplement, finally reveal details about what to look forward to.

The film runs 82 minutes (whittled from 115). It's the first feature-length piece for Cannonball Productions: they warmed up on a couple of shorts and long runs on public access television.

Pearson and Jones also participated in various Seattle-area microradio operations for seven years, which is what turned them on to the scene. But they had no idea they were part of a national movement for media democracy until 1998, when they attended a public microradio mobilization in Washington, D.C. That set them off on a cross-country journey to visit other stations and learn their stories.

The narrative's apparently provided by interlaced footage of an actual microbroadcast filmed by DJs Him and Her earlier this year. The soundtrack sounds awesome: some 30 songs, including samples from the ear candy archive.

11/23/05 - Godcasting Gets Closer Scrutiny [link to this story]

The New York Times has just published a piece on the trend of evangelical broadcasters forcing smaller non-commercial stations off the air in order to squeeze more proselytizing-nodes on the dial. It demonstrates increasing interest in the proliferation of translator stations by religious broadcasters.

On the translator front, the FCC's temporary freeze on processing the avalanche of applications from 2003 has had no effect on the selling of translator construction permits: REC's Traffic Report shows deals every month throughout the summer and fall.

Others digging into these transactions believe there may be previously-undiscovered links between some of the major translator-traffickers and third parties to which they are unloading some of their spectrum boodle. Some of these third parties may be intermediaries, feeding a stream of new translator permits to evangelical broadcast networks in such a way so as to not arouse suspicion (as would occur were the transactions to be attempted directly and simultaneously).

The FCC shows no signs of taking the channel-grab underway seriously. Some of the most egregious traffickers expect to be doing business for the foreseeable future: both Radio Assist Ministry and World Radio Link, Inc. are registered exhibitors at next year's National Religious Broadcasters annual convention in Dallas.

11/22/05 - LPAM Comments In, Favor Further Exploration [link to this story]

The initial comment period on the petition for rulemaking closed on November 21. Just over two dozen comments were filed, the overwhelming majority of which favor further FCC study of a low-power AM community broadcast service. Not too bad considering the petition got almost zero publicity. Comments from LPFM's major players are nonexistent, save for an excellent graphic from REC Networks illustrating just how LPAM might bring community radio to places (legal) LPFM will never reach.

The only real exceptions were nearly-identical comments filed by Minority Broadcasters, Inc., New World Broadcasting, and Arso Radio Corporation (all by the same author, Anthony T. Lepore, Esq.), which "strongly opposes" the creation of an LPAM service. Lepore's clients, which apparently include small-time commercial broadcasters operating "daytimer" stations (these are AM stations which must drastically reduce power between local sunset and sunrise), already struggle in "a crowded AM broadcast market rife with pirate broadcasters."

Furthermore, Lepore's clients think the LPAM petition is being advanced as "a blueprint for officially sanctioned 'pirate' broadcasting, where these LPAM facilities could compete for advertising dollars with traditional broadcasters, but not be held to the same standards and obligations of such broadcasters."

While nothing could be further from the truth, the ball is in the FCC's court now as to whether the idea merits more scrutiny. We'll either hear soon (i.e., the next 3-6 months) or nothing further.

11/20/05 - Scene Reports: Illinois, Louisiana [link to this story]

Illinois: It seems that a group of folks headed out after the WRFU barnraising to pay a visit to Springfield, the home of Mbanna Kantako's Human Rights Radio. They found Kantako and the station in good spirits, albeit at extremely low power, thanks to a blown amplifier, which is now under repair.

Kantako celebrates his 18th nearly-uninterrupted year on the air in five days - a large portion of which has been archived on tape.

Louisiana: This IMC post collected comments which suggest Radio Algiers is back on the air following a scary visit from the FCC. Plans are still in the works for a collaboration using the facilities of WTUL; the Tulane station's staff have set January as the target month to return to air.

11/17/05 - WRFU: We're Really Functional, Usually [link to this story]

When Prometheus comes to town to throw down a barnraising, they're not so much building a radio station as they are planting seeds for collaborative media production. This is because it's really impossible to fully build out a radio station in three days, even with 100+ of your closest friends. Which means, after the weekend work-party, you still have a sh*tload of work to do.

The process of initial construction is merely the hefty push that launches the collaboration. WRFU's transmitter and antenna are fully secure - it's everything else that's left to finish.

Hence I am remiss both at posting frequently and documenting the experience. Fortunately, lots of others did that:

Thousands of photos and a slideshow (including the unedited archives of each day) x More Photos x Yet More Photos x WRFU Sign-On (MP3) x Crowd Reax and Audio Report (MP3) x Free Speech Radio News Coverage x IMC Reception Reports x Local Press

Things may stay light for a little while longer, until our wobble wears off.

11/9/05 - Radio Algiers Visited By FCC; Send Shouts to WRFU [link to this story]

FCC agents reportedly paid a visit (32:39, 15 MB, thanks V-Man and Indynewswire) to Radio Algiers in New Orleans on November 2. The station is off the air indefinitely; plans are to try and utilize the abandoned facilities of WTUL to help those desiring to speak truth to power acquire a spot on the local radio dial. Please note the irony: the FCC can make the rounds but FEMA is still missing in action. Hopefully the gear will stay in circulation.

More than 120 folks have signed up to help build our little LPFM station in Urbana this weekend. Registration will be accepted on-site, so it's not too late to get involved. Even if you can't make it, you can still participate in our inaugural broadcast. Visit this page and follow the instructions to give WRFU greetings, which we'll broadcast as part of our inaugural smorgasbord show Sunday evening.

11/8/05 - A Book and Movie in Seattle [link to this story]

The Globe Cafe in Seattle tomorrow night should be a fun place to be. There, Ron Sakolsky, the first historian of microradio, will be speaking about his new book, Creating Anarchy. Joining him will be the creators of a new documentary about microradio, called Pirate Radio USA. They've been quite tight-lipped about the production itself, although it is finally finished and apparently in submission to several festivals, public trailer still forthcoming.

11/7/05 - Scene Reports: California, U.K. [link to this story]

California: there's been lots happening in San Diego. 106.9FM has voluntary signed off after running out of funds to broadcast. According to the station blog it's hoped the hiatus is only temporary. Meanwhile Free Radio San Diego returned to the air over Halloween weekend, three months after it was raided and cleaned out by the FCC. The signal strength is reportedly much weaker.

San Diego has also recently been the site of some serious FCC enforcement involving other forms of unlicensed operation. Specifically, the use of point-to-point microwave radio communications between corporations in the San Diego area and "sister companies" located over the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana. The FCC has issued 11 Notices of Apparent Liability against 10 companies, seeking to collect a total of $86,000.
Proposed Fine
Anderson Desk Company $10,000
International Customs Brokers $4,000
Kojo Worldwide Corporation $10,000
Lamkin Corporation $4,000
More Enterprises Communications Network $10,000
Norman Krieger Incorporated $4,000
Pacific Spanish Network, Incorporated $10,000
Pacnet Incorporated $10,000 / $10,000
Tocabi America Corporation $4,000
Uniradio Corporation $10,000

The range in size of proposed fines is primarily based on whether or not a company held a pre-existing license to the sort of radio system they were operating. Most of the dinged companies actually market stuff, like desks, cabinetry, fabrics, and golf grips. They most likely use radio links to communicate sales and order data from the U.S. to production factories in Mexico. Two are transport concerns, tasked to the haulage of stuff cross-border.

However, More Enterprises and Uniradio actually operate radio stations, licensed in Mexico but controlled across the border via unauthorized studio-to-transmitter links. This adds to San Diego's unique history of unorthodox radio piracy.

United Kingdom: Radio authorities conducted a sweep of the London scene last week, silencing 44 stations (about a third of all active stations in the London metro area). This crackdown is likely related to earlier activity in Birmingham in October. The seminal site Y2K Pirates has sadly closed up shop - hopefully all of its amazing content can be salvaged and kept alive somewhere.

11/3/05 - Zack de la Rocha Walks Talk [link to this story]

"Contact I highjacked the frequencies," indeed. On June second FCC agents traced a pirate station broadcasting on the well-known L.A. frequency of 104.7 FM to la casa de la Rocha. District Director Catherine Deaton served up a Notice of Unlicensed Operation at the end of September. The station's status is currently unknown.

This trivia courtesy of the freshly-updated Enforcement Action Database. 2005 is shaping up to be a busy year.

11/1/05 - Powell Pimps Invasive Adverts [link to this story]

Former FCC chairman Mikey Powell joins Reactrix Media Systems as a "senior advisor." This is in supplement to his main gig, moving large capital in telecom investment-land.

Reactrix is deploying what it calls "reactive media network" technology - motion-sensitive electronic billboard-style advertising - in malls, theatres, chain stores and other spaces of public commerce.

Mikey sez: "This new reactive media that Reactrix has pioneered, like the Internet before it, has the long-term potential to fundamentally change the way consumers receive and exchange information." Add another feather to his stellar legacy.