Counting Your Chickens

We’ve all heard that old adage, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” While it’s an overused cliché, it’s very applicable to the free radio community right now.

The buzz in the movement is all about the two proposals for an LPFM service filed with the FCC over the past couple of weeks. It’s important to remain realistic. While the FCC has received both Petitions for Rulemaking and is currently accepting comments on them, we shouldn’t lose sight of some simple facts:

Free Radio remains illegal. Check this scenario: the FCC receives a complaint about a “pirate” in the area. Through their voluminous investigative means, they’re able to track down the “pirate.” After taking field measurements, the goons get permission to move in. As they drive up to the station, they can hear the signal strong and clear. The lead goon knocks on the door, and the station op opens it. As they muscle in, the op can be heard crying, “Wait! The rules are changing! What I’m doing won’t be illegal for long!” Read More

Free Radio Berkeley Wins Round in Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Lawyers Guild Committee on Democratic Communications

PRESS RELEASE

Court Rejects FCC’s Constitutional Catch 22

United States District Court Judge Claudia Wilken has rejected another attempt by the Federal Communications Commission to silence Berkeley Micro Radio Broadcaster Stephen Dunifer, founder of Free Radio Berkeley.

In a 13 page opinion released on November 12, 1997, Judge Wilken once again rejected the government’s motion for an injunction to silence micro radio broadcasts by local radio pioneer Stephen Dunifer. Read More

NAB Declares War; Dunifer’s Response

Recently the National Association of Broadcasters sent out a communication to its members urging them to be listening closely to their FM dials for “pirates” and, if any are found, to report them immediately to the FCC. Microradio activists have taken this as tantamount to an act of war.

What follows is a response from Stephen Dunifer, founder of Free Radio Berkeley. Now that the NAB has stepped in and is trying to throw their weight around on free radio, it’s about time someone stepped forward in defense of microcasting.

In response to the direct attack on micropower broadcasting by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) we, as a coalition of Micropower Broadcasters, supporters and interested parties, make the following statement. Read More

Inspecting a Public File

The FCC recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rule making seeking comment on the location of a station’s public inspection file (MM Docket #97-138). According to current FCC rules, licensed stations must keep a stack of required documents on hand at the station’s main studio for anyone to inspect.

Most of the time, the most expected person to inspect the file may be a visitor from the FCC. But since the FCC doesn’t get around to inspecting stations that much, stations sometimes neglect their public files, missing updates and other pieces of information that, if discovered missing, could very well cost the station a hefty fine or license problems.

Now a move is afoot to allow stations to literally distance themselves from the people they serve. MM Docket #97-138 would allow stations to locate their studios farther away from the community they’re actually licensed to. That isn’t that big of a deal; so many radio stations are now automated, carrying pre-packaged programming from somewhere else, that they’re really not “serving” the community of license with their air signal anyway. Read More

The Plus Side of Radio Monopolies

It is disturbing to see how consolidation in the radio industry is leading to the gobbling up of radio stations by major companies. Evergreen Media just swept through the Chicago market, taking a gangsta-rap station and changing it into born-again gospel overnight!

However, there is a small way to fight against the tide. Granted, not all the ways may be legal, but they are doable.

Raid the chief engineer’s closet.
A lot of stations, after being bought out by the some monolith, traditionally do some downsizing. There’s been a lot of outcry about the dwindling amount of local programming available on the airwaves, but station engineers are getting hard hit, too. Why keep one person on the payroll for each station if it’s not necessary (FCC rules now allow for unattended operation), or contracted technicians can do the job at half the cost? Read More