Prepping for a Pirate Crackdown

Even though the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau is in the throes of a major downsizing – newly-released documents indicate the Bureau will cut 44 jobs, or more than 40% of its workforce – it’s also committed itself to do something about the proliferation of unlicensed broadcasting. That said, a before-and-after summary of personnel cuts doesn’t really show a lot of refocused muscle on the ground: for example, New York’s field office will see a net increase of one agent (from 4 to 5), while the “tiger teams” being created to backstop the field offices consist of no more than three or four.

Since pirate radio’s become a plaything of FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, and the broadcast lobby is chomping at the bit for a war on pirates, I would not be surprised if the agency, working in concert with groups like the NAB and New York State Broadcasters Association, attempt to sweep at least NYC this year in some “show of force.” Whatever the rhetoric may be, paper-tiger mode remains in full effect — and there’s a lot unlicensed broadcasters can do to prepare for whatever may come, both tactically and strategically. Read More

Summer Radio Camps Back in Session

Free Radio Berkeley is again conducting four-day Summer Radio Camps, in which participants get immersively indoctrinated into the technicalities of radio by assembling their own microradio transmitters and antennas. The first one goes down on Memorial Day weekend; the last happens in September. With plans to be in the SF Bay area during the start of August’s Camp, it would be neat to pop in and see how these things are done.

Also duly noted: FRB has translated Micropower Broadcasting: A Technical Primer into Spanish, and has made available a complete, scanned-page version of the “radio comic book” A Popular Guide to Building a Community FM Broadcast Station.

Algiers Microradio Gets Upgrade

Free Radio Berkeley’s 75-watt transmitter arrived safe and sound. It’s been re-tuned to 88.7 FM and is presently putting out about 80-90 watts. A shed’s been cleared out to serve as a full-time studio space; a military surplus mast has been procured and assembled; and a new antenna sits on top of it. Soon the station will be webcasting as well. The vibe is increasingly active as more and more people return to the city: there is much to do and many stories to tell.

There are approximately four workable microradio frequencies in the New Orleans metropolitan area, three short-term and one (arguably) longer-term: Read More

Scene Reports: Mississippi, D.C., California

Mississippi: A crew from the Midwest has arrived in Waveland, Mississippi, where the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina made landfall. 30-foot storm surges left survivors literally naked – yet a tent city of sorts has blossomed among the destruction. “Radio Free Waveland” is now providing a 40-watt morale boost among those trying to make the most of a desperate situation (still no FEMA there).

District of Columbia: WSQT gave a fiery interview to the folks at Free Radio Santa Cruz this week. The station is currently off the air after donating its transmitter to Gulf Coast relief efforts and is also relocating following a visit from the FCC earlier this month. I’m a big fan of WSQT’s intensity: it is a guerrilla war, and time and numbers work in our favor.

California: Stephen Dunifer and volunteers with Free Radio Berkeley are assembling a 75-watt transmitter to send to New Orleans. Also, there have been more reports about Berkeley Liberation Radio returning to the air on a regular basis, although details remain sketchy.