Should the trend continue, enforcement activity against unlicensed broadcasters may approach levels not seen since 2005-06, the start of the FCC’s post-LPFM station-hunting campaign. This would signify a significant shift and could be indicative of strategic revisions involving the agency’s spectrum enforcement priorities more generally.
The shortwave pirate broadcast community is significantly small enough that most station operators are friends with one another, though the frequency of station broadcasts over the last year has, at times, been high enough that some have accidentally clashed signals. The FCC has not taken a documented enforcement action against a shortwave pirate since 1998, which has also led to the proliferation of stations. This long run of heavy activity has resulted in an increase in the shortwave listening community.
However, shortwave listening may not be for everyone. Audio quality on shortwave can leave a lot to be desired, and in many cases the pirates broadcasting are so weak (less than 100 watts) that hardcore listeners have to endure lots of static and noise, if only to hear a snippet of a show.
Thanks to Ragnar for recording a session from this year’s Winterfest gathering called the “Year in Pirate Radio” (1:01:48, 21.3 MB). After a somewhat sparse summary of 2005 activity on the AM, FM and shortwave bands, Allan Weiner commandeers the mic and takes questions from the audience. He offers up some interesting observations on the FCC, his offshore pirate escapades, and what it’s like to run a 50,000-watt shortwave station.
In Florida, Rayon Payne aka N$X has established a new web site which includes a complete copy of his demo CD called “Unfinished Bizness,” which intersperses interview clips with material from the pirate days of yore. He’s still on the hunt for an open mic on this side of the law, and he’s still thinking big.