When Major Steve Anderson of the Kentucky State Militia fired up a shortwave transmitter and gave birth to Kentucky State Militia Radio (KSMR) this month, it's not clear whether or not he knew he was making history.
The amateur and shortwave radio bands are heavily populated by militia and other "patriot" broadcasters who criticize the federal government for regularly overstepping its Constitutional bounds. In many cases, these broadcasters advocate isolation from anything federal in nature.
Anderson falls into this category: last year he turned in his amateur radio license to the FCC as a symbolic gesture of detachment from the reins of federal authority.
KSMR is an unlicensed station, and it fits in the realm of the "clandestine" operation. Clandestine stations exist to propagandize - to support a political movement or cause, often at direct odds with the powers that be.
The United States Government itself runs or assists in the operation of several clandestine radio stations around the world - but never has a clandestine station targeting the United States itself ever broadcast from within its borders.
KSMR earns its place in history as the first of its kind. But it may write several other chapters, too, depending on how its confrontation with the FCC goes down.
In a report published recently on the Clandestine Radio Watch web site, Anderson was quoted from one of his KSMR broadcasts, apparently responding to a letter he'd gotten recently from the FCC. "You don't have any authority over us," Anderson said. "We are asserting our First Amendment Rights here and are protecting them with the Second Amendment."
What he means, of course, is that the folks at KSMR are armed and unafraid of confrontation. The FCC is reportedly aware of the station and is exploring strategies to shut it down.
Other pirates on the shortwave band are not welcoming KSMR to the dial. FCC activity against shortwave pirates has been all but nonexistent for the last five years and some pirates feel that the pending confrontation between KSMR and the Feds - especially if it turns out messy - could spell the death of all of them.
KSMR is currently testing the frequencies 3260 kHz (USB) and 6880 kHz (USB), and plans to also broadcast on 12181 kHz (USB) in the future; it has already been heard coast-to-coast. The station's power will eventually increase from its current 800 watts to 3,000 and a formal launch of KSMR will occur in April - coinciding with a major gathering of militia groups from around the country.