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

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

Balkan Busts, Bloodshed Continue

While the bombs might have stopped falling, the casualties in Yugoslavia’s war on independent media are still coming in. In fact, the military respite Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has is giving him more energy and resources to devote to rooting out any remaining opposition and consolidating his power.

It is not a war of words, either. Central to the conflict is radio station B92, a 200-watt free radio station in the capital city of Belgrade. After ten years on the air (and two busts during that time), a third – and possibly final – one happened shortly before NATO bombs began to fall on Serbia and Kosovo.

The Yugoslav central government raided Radio B92, seizing its equipment and briefly detaining its chief operators. After maintaining firm control over the hardware, authorities apparently upgraded it, assembled a new “management team,” and opened up a “new” Radio B92 a few days after the raid – with a signal five times stronger than the original B92 ever put out. Read More

Risks and Rewards

It seems there’s a bit of confusion over the terms “pirate” and “free” when applied to radio. Some associate piracy with breaking the law, while “free radio” seems to be thought of as some sort of quasi-legal community operation.

The two terms, in the eyes of the law, are one and the same. “Pirate” or “free” radio stations both have one thing in common – they both broadcast without an FCC license, and therefore are illegal operations.

Being a radio “pirate” used to be a compliment, until the movement toward legalization of low-power radio stations began in the United States – then, as more moderate activists joined the scene, the term “pirate” was phased out as being politically incorrect.

Leave the United States, though, and most of the unlicensed stations operating out there will still refer to themselves as “pirates,” and they’re proud of the moniker. Read More

The Yugoslav Crackdown on Free Radio

All good things must come to an end, and it appears that’s the case with Yugoslavia’s B92. The Belgrade broadcasters had been an unlicensed, full-service community radio station in every sense of the word.

When the NATO air campaign began, B92’s importance changed significantly. Only hours before the first bombs fell, Yugoslav authorities confiscated B92’s transmitter and arrested and detained its founder for about eight hours.

The station wasn’t intimidated, though: it became a coveted source of information to the rest of the world from inside a country under political siege. Internet and satellite uplinks from B92 staffers continued – until Friday. Read More