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Feature: Tricks and Treats

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10/25/99

With Halloween just around the corner, preparations are being made among many in the free radio community to make 1999's celebration of this dark (and often demented) holiday one to remember.

Holiday broadcasts tend to be the purview of shortwave pirates, who put on some memorable broadcasts around Christmas, Valentine's Day, Labor Day, the Fourth of July, and April Fool's Day. But for some reason, for Halloween many tend to pull out all the stops.

At least one broadcaster has already announced his intentions to take to the airwaves on Halloween. Others will surely follow - shortwave pirates tend to pack more creativity into every minute of their shows than any other kind of unlicensed broadcaster, and the fact that Halloween falls on a Sunday may result in some broadcasters spacing out their shows to make the whole weekend a lot of fun. At least one has begun celebrating a week early.

You should be able to hear everything from theme shows featuring the best in Halloween music to insane comedy bits and even some good old-fashioned radio ghost storytelling. It remains to be seen if the ultimate star of the night will show, though; Halloween Radio spends the whole year preparing for this one show, and if you're lucky enough to catch it, it's better than all the candy you'll be missing out on by staying hunched over a receiver at home.

However, radio cops (especially in America) have caught onto the phenomenon; last year, the FCC conducted four raids on shortwave broadcasters the day before Halloween, striking in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas.

The best spots on the dial to catch North American Halloween hijinks should be around 13915, 7465 and the venerable 6955 KHz. In Europe, much of the activity should be found around 11470, 6240, and between 3900-3950 KHz. Make sure to tune around the target frequency by a good 50 KHz: depending on propogation conditions, your chances of catching a Halloween pirate will vary - but this will probably be the best day of the year for hitting it big.