Summer and Shortwave

Being a radio pirate isn’t easy. Going on the air without a license means having to evade the FCC and there’s often the need to broadcast “on the run” – moving from location to location, trying to stay clear of the law.

Shortwave pirates face additional challenges that unlicensed FM stations do not – the range of an FM station’s signal is much, much shorter. FM signals travel in a “line-of-sight” manner – the only receivers that can pick up an FM signal are those that can “see” the transmitting antenna. It takes thousands of watts to cover a few dozen miles on the FM band.

Due to the tendency of shortwave signals to propagate through the atmosphere, it is possible for a 10-watt signal on the shortwave band to travel hundreds – even thousands – of miles. Read More

The Senate Skirmish

After a short breather thanks to a Congressional recess, both friends and foes of the FCC’s new low power radio plan have regrouped and are beginning to reorganize their efforts in the fight for LPFM’s survival.

The Senate is now back in session, and while action on a bill to kill low power radio in the House of Representatives was quick, all signs point to a much slower go in the second Congressional forum.

The Senate anti-LPFM bill remains in its Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, whose chairman is none other than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), failed Presidential contender and radio industry friend. Read More

The Carrot and the Stick

In any three-way war, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

The Federal Communications Commission’s initiative to legalize low power FM radio was a something many unlicensed broadcasters had supported (and worked to demonstrate) and some formally petitioned the FCC to undertake the initiative.

During 1999, while the FCC fleshed out its plans for LPFM, agents in the field claimed to have closed down 154 “pirate” stations.

While the agency won’t publicly admit it, in the wording of its LPFM rules was buried a small caveat to currently active unlicensed broadcasters that they could qualify for a license if they desired, so long as they shut down immediately. Read More

Halfway Dead

It was an often-lively debate, but at the end you weren’t sure whether to laugh or seethe.

After nearly two and a half hours of argument, spin and even some outright lies, the full House of Representatives voted 274 to 110 to approve the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act” – spelling the first near-death knell for the FCC’s new low power FM radio service.

While the vote in favor of the bill was carried mostly by Republican votes, the sad truth of the matter is that if it weren’t for the Democrats who said “yea,” this bill would have died. Plus, another 50 Representatives didn’t even bother to vote on it! Read More

Dueling Editorials, Round Two

It’s been about a year since the National Association of Broadcasters released its “Anti-LPFM lobbying kit” for its members to use as ammunition in a lobbying assault to overturn the FCC’s proposed low power radio service.

What a difference a year makes. The FCC has since approved a conservative LPFM plan, but the NAB is going full-out with a push on Capitol Hill to try and kill it. So far, the votes in support are racking up, and there’s a better-than-even chance the broadcast industry will succeed in its mission.

As part of last year’s “lobbying kit,” the NAB provided a “sample editorial” for its member stations to use in their local newspapers. It was a cheap attempt at furthering its propaganda; as an antidote, I prepared a pro-LPFM sample editorial directly based on the NAB’s original text. Read More