After the Bust

As the number of pirate stations in the U.S. has risen, the level of work for the FCC’s enforcement folks has also risen dramatically. This comes in the face of a waning cycle of FCC budget cuts, which forced the agency’s “police” apparatus to consolidate into regional offices.

Now, the FCC has announced the creation of a new “enforcement bureau” dedicated to policing the American airwaves. Under the previous system, the friendly field agents pirates occasionally encounter drew their pay from the Compliance and Information Bureau (CIB).

The move is part of what’s called “A New FCC for the 21st Century,” but it’s actually growth for the agency. Amoeba-like, the CIB has split and multiplied – now the “radio cops” have their own whole bureau to play with! Read More

Tricks and Treats

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. Read More

Revolutions Begin Locally

re·volt (ri-‘vOlt) n. An act of protest, refusal, revulsion or disgust. See synonyms under REVOLUTION.

rev·o·lu·tion (rev&-‘lü-sh&n) n. An extensive or drastic change in a condition, method, idea, etc.

It seems you can find strong support for low power radio on the local level, but the farther one gets up the government chain (and the greater the physical distance between the governors and governed is), the enthusiasm fades away.

It is the federal government who sets the rules for broadcasting and enforces them. When the FCC knocks on a pirate’s door, they’re not doing so at the behest of city councilmen or county board-members – they’re doing it because it’s the law of the land. Read More

KHz and MHz Meet H2O

Listening to pirate radio is a risk-free adventure. Whether the fun can be found on AM, FM or shortwave, all it takes to find a pirate is a decent radio receiver and some determination to find one.

Being a radio pirate is a bit more risky – there’s the chance of getting caught and prosecuted by the authorities, and there’s constant pressure to avoid that fate.

Some pirates simply broadcast sporadically; others change frequencies to avoid detection. Those more serious about staying one step ahead of a bust will even take their operation mobile, moving around in a truck or van to keep the radio cops guessing.

But the most gutsy move a pirate’s ever taken is to get a hold of a ship, fit it out with all the gear, and set sail for the high seas. They’re the offshore pirates, and they’ve presented the biggest challenge to broadcast laws: how can you crack down on a pirate when they’re physically outside your reach? Read More

Expanding Your Lifespan

Turning on a transmitter is almost like daring the authorities to come knocking. The simple act of being on the air in the first place is illegal; broadcasting without a license is one of the only crimes where the perpetrator boldly announces they’re defying authority while they commit the offense.

Outside of the rule-breaking aspect, being on the air is simply fun. There is no other thrill quite like the one you get from “pirate” broadcasting. Trust me – you will know it when you feel it.

Unfortunately, the fun only lasts as long as it takes the authorities to find you. Eventually, they will. Sometimes, they’ll take little or no action. But in the majority of cases, they’ll shut you down in the end.

That is why any free radio broadcaster should always set up shop with the thought that, one day, the fun’s going to stop. However, you can influence just how long it takes for the radio cops to take action.

To help get a jump start on a long station life, here are some tips of the trade: Read More