Broken Blackout Breaks Back

Napoleon Williams has taken his share of punishment for running his own radio station, and then some. He’s faced trumped-up charges, the loss of his children, and strong-armed police – all for stepping up and speaking truth to power.

Now, after fighting for nearly 10 years, Napoleon Williams is off the air and on the run.

The saga begins on August 21, 1990 in not-so-racially-harmonious city of Decatur, Illinois: That is when Williams signs Black Liberation Radio on the air for the first time. The motive: Expose and force change in the attitudes and policies that were a source of constant tension within the community. Read More

Cannibalism at its Best

It was less than three years ago that Nick Leggett, Judith Leggett and Don Schellhardt officially filed the first Petition for Rulemaking (RM-9208) that led to the Federal Communications Commission’s ultimate creation of the new low power FM (LPFM) radio service.

What a difference three years can make. During that time, Schellhardt co-founded the Amherst Alliance, one of the most vocal and notable pro-LPFM groups in the nation.

Amherst was very active during the FCC’s LPFM proceedings, and Schellhardt even testified in front of a Congressional subcommittee defending the agency’s plan against the industry push to legislatively abort the service. Read More

Strategy Session

During the last weekend in May, while many Americans were relaxing at the expense of those who gave their lives for their freedom, soldiers in a lower-profile domestic war gathered to plot their next moves in their fight.

The “Micropower Council of War” was called by Free Radio Berkeley founder Stephen Dunifer; if it were not for his ongoing battle with the government (through the courts), there would have been no blossoming of unlicensed radio stations – and no widespread microradio movement.

When the FCC announced its plans to re-legalize a low power FM (LPFM) radio service, Dunifer was one of the first to discount the move as political hype. Read More

The McCain Mystery

On May 30, the FCC will begin taking applications for the first new low power FM radio licenses to be issued since the agency initially banned them more than 30 years ago. Would-be broadcasters in 11 states and the Mariana Islands will get first crack at the 100-watt LPFM licenses; the first station could go on the air as early as August.

Yet a battle rages in Congress to kill the service before it even gets off the ground. So far, 34 Senators have signed onto anti-LPFM legislation that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved (with some changes) in mid-April.

But the broadcast lobby’s momentum appears to be slowing. It only takes 51 votes to pass a bill in the Senate (compared to 218 needed in the House) and the number of Senators committed to the bill stalled at around 30 for nearly a month. Read More

Radio B2-92: The Fourth Crackdown

The biggest threat to any totalitarian government is not the armed potential of its disillusioned citizens; it is the ideas of those citizens infecting others.

One of the first things Nazi German conquerors did when taking over territory was to silence any media not controlled by the state; doctrine told military commanders to take control of radio stations.

That strategy remains true today, and nowhere else is it more prevalent than in the embattled Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where tensions between the Serbian-controlled central government, still led by President Slobodan Milosevic, and dissidents from a broad spectrum of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds continue to simmer. Read More