Petty Activism DOES NOT Justify Your Sexism on Our Side of the Barricades Nov 13 – 2 of 3


Dominique Young Unique – Throw It Down
Helia – Alejandro 00:03:11
Halestorm – Bad Romance 00:06:46
Crime – San Francisco’s Doomed 00:10:50
natasha – Track id 00:13:06
Wasted Youth – I Hate Life 00:14:03
Urinals – I’m White and Middle Class 00:15:17
System Of A Down – Toxicity 00:16:09
Past – Reagan 00:19:39
natasha – Closing 00:21:07
Rezillos – Flying Saucer Attack 00:29:56
Bags – We Will Bury You 00:31:22
Matteo M e Paolo B. – Ronald Reagan 00:32:26
Crime – Space Face 00:34:58
Ice Nine Kills – Animals 00:38:17
Crime – Performs at Prison 00:42:28
System Of A Down – Prison Song #1 00:45:10


Petty Activism DOES NOT Justify Your Sexism on Our Side of the Barricades Nov 13 – 1 of 3


natasha – Opening
nofx – East Bay 00:08:25
Eminem vs Trump 00:10:46
Bikini Kill – Liar 00:12:50
Motion City Soundtrack – Throw Down 00:15:23
King Blues – Set The World On Fire 00:19:03
Spook Door – Education 00:21:37
Moracchioli – Sexy and I Know It 00:22:56
Natasha – Holidays Suck 00:26:10
Bikini Kill – Don’t Need You 00:28:07
Arthur Kay & The Originals – Ska Wars 00:29:33
Rings – I Wanna Be Free 00:33:20
Bikini Kill – White Boy 00:36:08
Deadbeats – Kill the Hippies 00:38:21
Satan’s Rats – You Make Me Sick 00:40:18


Petty Activism DOES NOT Justify Your Sexism on Our Side of the Barricades Nov 13 – 3 of 3


Dominique Young Unique – Throw It Down
Helia – Alejandro 00:03:11
Halestorm – Bad Romance 00:06:46
Crime – San Francisco’s Doomed 00:10:50
natasha – Track id 00:13:06
Wasted Youth – I Hate Life 00:14:03
Urinals – I’m White and Middle Class 00:15:17
System Of A Down – Toxicity 00:16:09
Past – Reagan 00:19:39
natasha – Closing 00:21:07
Rezillos – Flying Saucer Attack 00:29:56
Bags – We Will Bury You 00:31:22
Matteo M e Paolo B. – Ronald Reagan 00:32:26
Crime – Space Face 00:34:58
Ice Nine Kills – Animals 00:38:17
Crime – Performs at Prison 00:42:28
System Of A Down – Prison Song #1 00:45:10

National Lawyers Guild stands up again with clarity

We are all antifa
Wednesday Sep 6th, 2017 6:32 PM
Last month, thousands gathered in San Francisco and Berkeley to defeat the hatred of fascism and white supremacy. A united front of labor, clergy, students, socialists, anarchists and others successfully prevented the fascists from holding their rallies.
This is antifa — a broad movement of people who stand against the violence of white supremacists and fascists, violence emboldened by the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the presidency.

Despite our victory, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin called for antifa to be classified as a criminal gang. The lesson here is that we cannot depend on the government to meaningfully intervene and prevent the rise of fascism. That is up to us.

The National Lawyers Guild, an organization of thousands of lawyers, law students and legal workers across the country, has supported free speech and assembly for all progressive and radical movements for 80 years. But The Chronicle’s coverage of the Aug. 27 rally would have you believe that it is the “alt-right” that seeks to protect speech. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are some examples of what the far right does when no one is filming:

• Our volunteer attorneys, legal workers and clients have received death threats and their personal information publicized to promote harassment, as a result of our defense of antifa activists;

• One attorney was stalked inside the courthouse by a man with a swastika tattoo and a shaved head wearing quasi-military-type attire. He then left, and shortly thereafter she received threatening messages and had to seek protection at a safe house;

• A group of men wearing military-like attire, and one with a swastika tattoo, was seen waiting outside Santa Rita Jail for arrestees to be released;

• National Lawyers Guild phone lines have been inundated with hate calls.

But we are prepared to defend ourselves, and are implementing security plans to ensure the safety of our members, allies and partners. This is hatred and violence, not speech.

As an antiracist organization, we refuse to support white supremacists. That does not mean that we oppose free speech.

We believe far-right extremists have successfully twisted the right to free speech to cast themselves as victims of exactly what they strive to promote — hate and violence.

The far right, however, is not the only problem. The government appears to be colluding with the far right to target antifa. Of six protesters held overnight in jail, only one has been charged with a crime — a woman with a service dog who was brutally pinned to the ground by police, allegedly for throwing an apple. Another was arrested for allegedly pulling their T-shirt over part of their face when photographed by fascists.

This campaign to recast antifa as a violent, leftist suppression of speech is a dangerous effort eerily reminiscent of the left-baiting that accompanied the Nazi rise to power.

The National Lawyers Guild won’t stand by as fascists and white supremacists seek to take power in the streets and halls of government. We stand in solidarity with all who fight hatred. We will continue to show up, to defend activists who challenge fascism, and we call on all people of conscience to do the same.

— Nina Farnia, Rachel Lederman and Meredith Wallis

Nina Farnia is the president of the National Lawyers Guild — San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. Rachel Lederman is chair of the Demonstrations Committee, National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. Meredith Wallis is a member of the Demonstrations Committee.

Paper Tiger Apes Big Bad Wolf by John Anderson via

By John Anderson

in FCC, Media Policy, NAB, Pirate Radio


September 06, 2017

The FCC’s taking a cue from the Three Little Pigs, huffing and puffing about the work it’s doing to combat the “problem” of pirate radio. Just in time for the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual Radio Show in Austin, the FCC’s gone on an enforcement spree of sorts over the last month or two.

With 158 enforcement actions on the books at the end of August, the agency is now on pace to meet or exceed the number of actions it took against unlicensed stations in 2016. For the eight years we’ve experienced of this decade so far, 2017’s enforcement-trajectory seems on target to rank as third or fourth-busiest.

States visited by the FCC hunting radio pirates, 2017Field agents have traveled far beyond the most popularly-recognized East Coast “hotspots” this summer. Arkansas gets on the board for the first time in the history of our Enforcement Action Database, while the closure of the Seattle FCC field office made it San Francisco and Los Angeles-based agents’ responsibility to visit Alaska in pursuit of a Baptist church – the first time since 2013 that the FCC’s made waves there. (Alaska is the 36th most active U.S. state/territory for pirate radio, just behind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s home state of Kansas.)

This year, agents also popped in on stations in Indiana, Nebraska, and North Carolina, among others. Based on the Database, the only state the FCC has yet to visit for anti-pirate purposes, at least in the last two decades, is Mississippi.

There have also been some mildly interesting tweaks to the enforcement protocol. Times between the initial station-visit and the sending of a Notice of Unlicensed Operation via certified mail varies by office, and ranges from as little as a week to several months – the latest batches of NOUOs from New York and Florida show a 1-2 month lag.

The language used in NOUOs is also being standardized. Before, field offices would generally provide some indication of how the pirate appeared on their radar, most often due to the receipt of a complaint or exposure in the news media. In some cases, FCC agents would even identify the complainant.

This has been replaced with more nebulous boilerplate, such as, “On [date], agents from the [location] field office investigated an unlicensed FM station operation on [frequency] in [location],” or “On [date], agents from the [location] field office confirmed by direction finding techniques that radio signals on frequency [x] were emanating from [location],” along with supplemental information. NOUOs now do often include whether or not the FCC actually spoke with someone when they visited, and a surprising number of those being warned do fess up when agents come knocking.

Both the FCC and radio industry are playing this up as “progress” in a ramped-up “war” on unlicensed broadcasting. This would be true were it not for some pesky details.

As our Database counts each visit and official correspondence (NOUO, NAL, forfeiture, raid, seizure) as a separate enforcement action, the sheer number of actions doesn’t necessarily correlate to more stations being pounced upon. It’s not uncommon for field agents to make two or more visits to a station over the course of a month or more before they actually drop a certified letter on it. In addition, agents will often send duplicate letters to any parties they suspect of being privy to the pirate broadcast; this often includes multiple potential operators, property owners/landlords, and businesses that may share space with a station.

Due to this duplication, the FCC may conduct as many as five or six enforcement actions against each station it’s made aware of. For example, if the FCC visits a station three times and identifies two operators and the property owner, it’ll generate two or three NOUOs as well. Multiply this number if field agents go through these motions more than once because the pirate moves locations or goes dormant for a spell. Interestingly, this practice seems most prevalent in the FCC’s busiest field offices (NYC and Miami), which further skews the enforcement-statistics to present an inflated picture of FCC activity on the ground.

Some of this inflation is obvious, such as the case of agents in Florida issuing separate NOUOs on the same pirate a day apart (not counted here as separate enforcement actions). In other cases, agents in the same office may only go partway, as happened in two instances last month in which the property owner was identified but the actual station operator was not.

Duplicative enforcement actions create the perception that the FCC is doing more than it is, but the true test of whether any of it is meaningful is expressed in its deterrent-value. If Chairman Pai et al. want to really ramp up the propaganda-value of this activity, they can “escalate” enforcement to the issuance of monetary penalties and attempt to collect $10-25,000 on each case. In Pai et al.’s policy-world, in which economics trumps all, this seems lke a no-brainer.

If only the limits of the FCC’s authority included being able to collect such debts! We get no better example of this than the case of Kacy Rankine. This New Jersey-based broadcaster first came to the FCC’s attention in 2005, when someone complained about his pirate FM station in Newark. After visits in November and December, Rankine got a Notice of Unlicensed Operation about his station on December 6 of that year.

The station stayed on. So the FCC visited again four times in January and February of 2006, then sent Rankine and another party more NOUOs on March 3. No effect.

Agents made three more visits in April, May, and July, before finally hitting Rankine with a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability on November 3, 2006 – one year minus two days from the FCC’s first visit to his station.

On January 26, 2007, the FCC formally fined Kacy Rankine $10,000 for his operations in Newark. This case involved a total of 14 enforcement actions (9 visits, 3 NOUOs, one NAL, and one forfeiture) over 14 months.

Did Rankine ever pay his fine? There’s no record of this, and considering that the agency historically only collects on less than a quarter of its pirate radio cases, the answer’s probably no.

Whatever transpired, it had little deterrent effect based on Rankine’s reappearance in the Enforcement Action Database this year. On July 19, NYC-based agents paid a visit to Paterson, New Jersey, just 15 miles up the Garden State Parkway from Newark. They found a station calling itself “Roadblock Radio” on Rankine’s old frequency (90.1) and identified him as its operator.

Agents issued a boilerplate NOUO to Rankine on August 28, which admonishes you to stop broadcasting “IMMEDIATELY” or else face “severe penalties, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines, in rem arrest action against the offending radio equipment, and criminal sanctions, including imprisonment.” Already bereft of tools beyond threats, the FCC also apparently lacks an institutional enforcement memory. Kacy knows the score: will a second most likely uncollectable fine turn the tide in this case?

If Rankine wanted to, he could shadowbox the FCC by adopting techniques long-practiced by his UK cousins: separating transmitter from studio, lining up alternate broadcast locations in the event things get blown, and generally making field agents waste more time, energy and resources than the enforcement payoff is worth.

I’ve learned over the years that policymaking is the art of speaking in symbols that have real-world implications, and the policymaking process often breaks down when the translation between symbol and reality fails. This was the case with the U.S. digital radio transition, in which the FCC was sold a vision for radio’s future that has not yet been meaningfully implemented nearly two decades on.

The same breakdown has occurred with the agency’s handling of the pirate “problem” over the same time-frame, and this won’t be fixed by huffing and puffing at trade shows or generating more files in the short term.

Also keep in mind that the FCC’s enforcement resources are finite and already stretched thin, so this “war” on pirate radio forces the Enforcement Bureau to de-prioritize other elements of its mission to preserve spectrum integrity. As captured regulators will do, this particular FCC campaign is driven by the dominant political winds, but in the Trump era you can’t really predict just how far it’ll go to do its masters’ bidding.

As Pai has proposed net cuts to the FCC’s budget which neglected adequate enforcement funding, and the government itself may be shut down soon over even higher-stakes political theater, it’ll be interesting to see how the agency explains why the pirate-house is still standing despite its roar. The mutual industry/agency fellation this week in Austin won’t change this. Perhaps the parties involved should have read the fairy tale all the way through before aping it.


What is speech if no one may hear?

BLR contends that free speech is the subject of contention.
Access to media is inseparable from civil rights
While it seems inevitable that access will be monetized,
it cannot be curtailed
We would submit that our government making no law to abridge implies
access is in existence
To cut the funding for public access media indeed abridges our civil rights
Once the government stops providing the access, how does the usurpation skip all the way to putting up prohibitions to access to the media surmountable only with corporate interest?
our government prohibits the abridgment of the right to free speech
What is speech if no one may hear?
The FCC is playing with words here
Civil rights cannot be purchased as a license
A number of inquiries received at the Commission are from persons or groups who believe that there is a First Amendment, constitutionally protected right to broadcast. However, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly ruled on this subject and concluded that no right to broadcast exists.
In National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190 (1943), the Supreme Court stated, in pertinent part, as follows (footnotes omitted):
We come, finally, to an appeal to the First Amendment. The Regulations, even if valid in all other respects, must fall because they abridge, say the appellants, their right of free speech. If that be so, it would follow that every person whose application for a license to operate a station is denied by the Commission is thereby denied his constitutional right of free speech. Freedom of utterance is abridged to many who wish to use the limited facilities of radio.
Unlike other modes of expression, radio inherently is not available to all. That is its unique characteristic, and that is why, unlike other modes of expression, it is subject to government regulation. Because it cannot be used by all, some who wish to use it must be denied. . . . The right of free speech does not include, however, the right to use the facilities of radio without license.
The licensing system established by Congress in the Communications Act was a proper exercise of its power over commerce.*nbsp; The standard it provided for licensing of stations was the 'public interest, convenience, and necessity.' Denial of a station license on that ground, if valid under the Act, is not a denial of free speech.
In addition, in Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. FCC/United States, 395 U.S. 367, 89 S.CT. 1794 (1969), the Supreme Court of the United States stated, in pertinent part, as follows (footnotes omitted):
When two people converse face to face, both should not speak at once if either is to be clearly understood.
But the range of the human voice is so limited that there could be meaningful communications if half the people in the United States were talking and the other half listening. Just as clearly, half the people might publish and the other half read. But the reach of radio signals is incomparably greater than the range of the human voice and the problem of interference is a massive reality. The lack of know-how and equipment may keep many from the air, but only a tiny fraction of those with resources and intelligence can hope to communicate by radio at the same time if intelligible communication is to be had, even if the entire radio spectrum is used in the present state of commercially acceptable technology.
It was this fact, and the chaos which resulted from permitting anyone to use any frequency at whatever power level he wished, which made necessary the enactment of the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934. National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190, 210 - 214 (1943). It was this reality which at the very least necessitated first the division of the radio spectrum into portions reserved respectively for public broadcasting and for other important radio uses such as amateur operation, aircraft, police, defense, and navigation; and then the subdivision of each portion, and assignment of specific frequencies to individual users or groups of users. Beyond this, however, because the frequencies reserved for public broadcasting were limited in number, it was essential for the Government to tell some applicants that they could not broadcast at all because there was room for only a few.
Where there are substantially more individuals who want to broadcast than there are frequencies to allocate, it is idle to posit an unbridgeable First Amendment right to broadcast comparable to the right of every individual to speak, write, or publish. If 100 persons want to broadcast but there are only 10 frequencies to allocate, all of them may have the same 'right' to be a licensee; but if there is to be any effective communication by radio, only a few can be licensed and the rest must be barred from the airwaves. It would be strange if the First Amendment, aimed at protecting and furthering communications, prevented the Government from making radio communication possible by requiring licensees to broadcast and by limiting the number of licensees so as not to overcrowd the spectrum.
This has been the consistent view of the Court. Congress unquestionably has the power to grant and deny licenses and to eliminate existing stations. [citation omitted here]. No one has a first amendment right to a license or to monopolize a radio frequency; to deny a station license because 'the public interest' requires it 'is not a denial of free speech.' National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190, 227 (1943).
"Quiet Spots" on the Dial
The fact that there are locations on a radio tuning dial which do not receive a broadcast station, does not necessarily indicate that a station can be added on that frequency. A station's signal on the same frequency or an adjacent frequency that is too distant or weak to be picked up by a radio receiver can still cause interference to other broadcast stations. For this reason, the Commission's rules require that stations located very close in frequency be located in different communities separated by some physical distance, so as to limit any potential interference.
Before it can be determined whether any "quiet spot" could support a broadcast station, the interested individual or group would need to have an engineering study performed to determine whether the frequency can actually be used. The Commission does not have the resources to perform such searches for potential applicants. Interested parties may want to retain a broadcast consulting engineer to determine what options exist, incorporating factors not under the Commission's jurisdiction (such as environmental and land use limitations, property availability, zoning, and airspace considerations).
Low Power FM - Low Power FM - Radio guide
Updated:  Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Micro-power Station Hits Berkeley (news blurb Fall 1999)

The following is the somewhat optimistic status announcement of the founding of Berkeley Liberation Radio. The only details I updated were the stream, web and phone (to avoid confusion). From what I understand from credible sources, cash money was put out to stream content early on, but did not come to fruition. The website also was paid for but did not publish BLR content.

So many cool details from history right? Look! We used to have broadcast hours, awwww so sweet

Free speech supporters in Berkeley are proud to announce the birth of a new radio station

Berkeley Liberation Radio.

Operating at 104.1 FM with a 38 watt home made transmitter, BLR is proving that micro-power radio (less than 100 watts) is a good way for people to communicate with their neighbors. With the closure of Free Radio Berkeley in June 1998, a vital link to the east bay community was cut. Berkeley has a tradition of free speech activism going back to the 1960’s. After waiting over a year for the Federal Communications Commission to legalize low power FM broadcasting, BLR decided it was time to act. Right now the station is offering highly diverse grass roots radio between 8:00AM and midnight every day. BLR is looking for more volunteer programmers. BLR can be heard on the world wide web with an mp3 audio feed . The web address is and the studio phone number is (510) 495-1666.

osotb012 Mar 6

natasha – Opening
Pat The Bunny – We’ll Get Arrested or Shot 0:00:31
Fishbone – Date Rape 0:02:37
Hotknives – Al Capone 0:06:08
Chomsky – Clip 0:07:37
Bodysnatchers – Ruder Than You 0:14:21
Bugsy Malone – Best Friend 0:17:00
Ziggens – Paddle Out 0:19:02
Special AKA – Break Down the Door 0:20:53
natasha – Track id 0:22:07
General Public – Tenderness 0:24:28
Bomb The Music – I’m Terrorfied!!! 0:27:57
Higsons – Tear The Whole Thing Down 0:30:31
Los Lobos – Pawn Shop 0:33:59
Chomsky segment 2 0:37:39
Velvet Underground – Femme Fatale 0:45:36
natasha – Track id 0:48:08
Ultraviolet Radio – One For My Baby 0:48:42

Levels on Our Side of the Barricades 3 of 3

YG feat. G Eazy and Macklemore FDT (Fuck Donald Trump part 2)
KillIt Shut it Down 00:03:37
natasha track id 00:08:17
Black Cougar Shock Unit I’m Not Drunk I Hate You 00:09:01
Human League Sound of the Crowd 00:11:35
SS Decontrol Police Beat 00:18:12
natasha track id 00:20:18
99 Bottles Working Drunk 00:20:52
Animosity Shut it Down 00:23:51
Interpol Barricade 00:27:24
Die Kreuzen This Hope 00:30:45
Silencers Policeman 00:31:54
natasha track id 00:35:36
Clash Complete Control 00:36:22
natasha track id 00:39:50
Nyandaconda 00:40:21
natasha Closing 00:47:43
Casey Neill and the with Norway Rats Riff Raff 00:49:43

Levels on Our Side of the Barricades 2 of 3

Lady Gaga Bad Romance
Social Unrest – I Wanna to Be Heard 00:05:06
Kesha We R Who We R 00:08:02
natasha track id 00:11:28
Avengers No Martyr 00:13:03
Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood Barricades and Brickwalls 00:16:04
natasha track id 00:19:17
MxPx Shut it Down 00:20:26
Onyx Fuck da Law 00:23:27
natasha track id 00:26:48
Patrick Fitzgerald Set We Free 00:27:50
Woody Guthrie Chain Around My Leg 00:30:21
D.I. Living in the USA 00:33:57

Levels on Our Side of the Barricades 1 of 3

7 Seconds Boss
natasha Opening 00:00:31
Misfits All Hell Breaks Loose 00:00:59
Rovics Behind the Barricades 00:02:27
BGK Police Crimes 00:04:11
Ramshackle Glory Of Ballots and Barricades 00:05:51
natasha Introduction 00:04:33
Dicks Dicks Hate the Police 00:08:20
Raveonettes Cops on Our Tail 00:10:18
Be your Own Pet Becky 00:13:09
natasha Track ID 00:15:59
Code of Honor People’s Revolution 00:16:14
Crucifucks Cops for Fertilizer 17:16
Provenance At the Barricades 00:18:35
natasha Track ID 00:23:21
Dead Kennedys I Kill Children 00:23:36
natasha Getting Punk Rock 00:25:44
Bad Brains Don’t Need It 00:26:17
natasha Track ID 00:27:24
Dead Kennedys Police Truck 00:27:36
Discharge Drunk with Power 00:29:51

DIYmedia reports FCC Radically Revises Enforcement Drawdown

By John Anderson

in FCC, NAB, Pirate Radio


I’ve been writing for years that unlicensed broadcasting is for all intents and purposes a form of guerrilla information warfare, whose tempo waxes and wanes as the political, cultural, and economic winds of the country shift. The last time the phenomenon was so explicitly politized was during the microadio movement of the 1990s, but back then pirates were on the offense. The name of the game, regardless of who’s applying the heat, will be operational prudence.

June 15, 2015

Three months ago, the FCC announced it was preparing to decimate its Enforcement Bureau by removing half its existing staff from the field and closing two-thirds of its field offices. The proposal, based on a $700,000 study prepared by outside consultants, did not sit well with anybody, and was popularly seen as the FCC effectively abdicating its role as police on the public airwaves.

That is, until last Tuesday, when the FCC announced it was abandoning that plan. There will still be enforcement cuts, but nearly not as draconian. Nine field offices are slated to close (instead of 16) and the agency has pledged to concentrate its field staff in markets where maintaining spectrum integrity is of primary importance. To make up for the offices that will be closed, the FCC will have not one, but two “Tiger Teams” ready for deployment on a short fuse. Even though it was brief, Chairman Tom Wheeler’s statement on the revised plan sounds contrite: “This updated plan represents the best of both worlds: rigorous management analysis combined with extensive stakeholder and Congressional input.”

In simple terms, the broadcast industry lit a fire under Congress about the importance of having something akin to recognizable (if not robust) enforcement activity by the FCC. This is the fruit of a carefully-coordinated lobbying campaign by the National Association of Broadcasters, New York State Broadcasters Association, and New Jersey Broadcasters Association, and the hook they used to make their counterattack on the FCC’s downsizing plan was pirate radio. The subject was mentioned repeatedly in Congressional hearings during which the reduction-in-force came up. And on the day that the FCC announced it was stepping back from eviscerating enforcement, a letter co-signed by more than 30 members of Congress to the FCC was released highlighting “Unauthorized FM Radio Operations in New York City.”

This document, dated on the same day as the FCC’s announcement of its revised cutbacks and signed by every member of New York’s delegation to the House of Representatives (and half of New Jersey’s) paints unlicensed broadcasters as a “persistent” scourge that underrmines the integrity of the FM band. The Representatives estimate that “there appear to be 34 pirate radio stations operating on rooftops in Brooklyn and the Bronx alone” – in fact, things are in such a state that “[t]he number of pirate FM radio stations throughout New York City could well outnumber the number of licensed operations,” and their numbers are only growing.

Those are fair claims — in fact, they may even be understated. Then comes the litany of grievances; the most notable are those involving interference. According to the Congressfolk, there is at least one case of a licensed station asking “to change its [Emergency Alert System] monitoring assignment because of intereference from unauthorized operators to New York Public Radio’s WNYC.” Such interference, they say, “may disrupt the entire alert system in New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey,” potentially putting millions at risk in the event of an emergency.

This is a bit overwrought and does not adequately tell the truth about how the EAS system actually works. Stations monitor more than one link in the EAS chain of stations — typically two, as per New York State’s own EAS monitoring plan — so if one link in the chain fails there’s some redundancy built in. The FCC’s FAQ on EAS contextualizes it as but one tool in the emergency-warning toolbox: “If one link in the system for spreading emergency alert information is broken, members of the public have multiple alternate sources of warning,” such as the Common Alerting Protocol, which now disseminates emergency information via cell phone.

None of this is to say that interference to licensed stations is not a problem, but politics has a penchant for hyperbole. And it gets thicker: New York and New Jersey’s Congressional delegation accuse radio pirates of harming “some of the most vulnerable populations in New York. We do not believe the FCC should allow these communities to be served by radio stations operating without regard to basic consumer protection laws and FCC regulations.” The insinuation is that these stations somehow prey on their listeners, which is galling to the extreme because no licensed broadcasters serve the communities that pirates do. In fact, those who run unlicensed stations are often directly from the communities they serve, and they keep themselves on the air by supporting and promoting local businesses.

It also presumes that the FCC has a stringent regime of consumer-protection regulations that it enforces — which it does not, and what does exist broadcasters are actively trying to dismantle.

Yet somehow, these stations “undermine investment in legitimate minority broadcasters,” long a hobby-horse issue with the FCC and one that the broadcast industry pays a lot of lip service to. Unless you count the sale of distressed AM stations for pennies on the dollar as “investment in legitimate minority broadcasters,” which is done more for the purposes of a tax write-off and positive press than it is about building a coherent and socially just redistribution of braodcast properties to reflect the true diversity of New York (and, by extension, the United States). How dare the people’s representatives demonize their constitutents when they take matters into their own hands to create a better media environment for themselves.

Pirate radio, in many of the districts represented in the letter, is a physical manifestation of what is wrong with broadcast media policy on many levels, and these members would be wiser to perhaps speak directly with these broadcasters as opposed to regurgitating talking points from the NAB, NYSBA, and NJBA.

In closing, the delegation asks the FCC to turn up the heat significantly on pirate radio without delay. They would like to see the FCC issue more fines, make more station-raids and equipment seizures, and work more closely with federal prosecutors to follow through and make sure that penalties actually stick. They’d also like “local law enforcement officials” to get in on this hunt.

The details of the FCC’s revised enforcement restructuring are still murky. According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the plan includes “provid[ing] a mechanism for escalating interference complaints” and “improv[ing] enforcement of the FCC’s rules against pirate radio operators,” and according to the Society of Broadcast Engineers a heightened priority on pirate broadcasting will begin “effective immediately.”

The question I keep coming back to is: you and what army? Pirate radio may be most pervasive in large markets like New York, Boston, and Miami, but the phenomenon is nationwide and shifting around already limited (and still-shrinking) resources is not likely to provide a net reduction in unlicensed broadcasting outside of these now-politicized hot spots. Even in targeted markets, the best the FCC and industry complainers can expect is a heightened game of whack-a-mole, especially as stations adapt to new enforcement protocols and adopt more UK-style tactics like separating the transmitter from studio and budgeting for the loss of gear in station raids. In London, for example, authorities may trash multiple transmitter-sites in one night only to have many of those stations reappear the next — to the pirates, that’s just a cost of doing business.

Furthermore, considering that the FCC is responsible for enforcing a wide gamut of communication laws and policies, how will a political priority on what is a relatively small problem in the grand scheme affect the FCC’s ability to do tangible enforcement activity that upholds its mission to serve the public interest?

In the short term, this will be an un-fun summer for unlicensed broadcasters in traditional bastions of pirate activity, but short of full-on militarization or a devolution to vigilantism as a means of enforcement, the heat can’t be sustained for long. My biggest concern is that the broadcast industry is laying the groundwork for a “public-private” enforcement partnership which will effectively sanction vigilante tactics. I’ve been writing for years that unlicensed broadcasting is for all intents and purposes a form of guerrilla information warfare, whose tempo waxes and wanes as the political, cultural, and economic winds of the country shift. The last time the phenomenon was so explicitly politized was during the microadio movement of the 1990s, but back then pirates were on the offense. The name of the game, regardless of who’s applying the heat, will be operational prudence.

The History of LPFM by John Anderson via

 What is LPFM?

LPFM stands for Low Power FM radio broadcasting. In the United States, the lowest minimum wattage a licensed FM radio station may have is 100 watts. There are lower-power FM transmitters in use, though, by some stations who want to increase their coverage area by extending their signal. These are called translators or boosters.

While these may only have a wattage measured in a range from dozens to hundreds, they are not true broadcast stations by the FCC’s definitions – they do not originate their own programming. They rely on a “parent” station to provide what they air.

Ham (amateur) radio uses a similar system called a repeater; people don’t broadcast from it. They shoot a signal into it, and then it gets re-broadcast to an area larger than what ham operators might reach with their own gear. In a nutshell, translators and boosters are the repeaters of FM radio.

LPFM is the common term used to define an FM broadcast station that originates its own programming but has the power of a translator or booster. Under current FCC rules, operating such a station is simply not allowed. You may also see LPFM referred to by other terms – like “LPRS,” “microradio,” and “mini-FM,” but they all mean the same thing.

LPFM Was Legal Once – The Class D Station Era

While the FCC in 2000 began issuing licenses for LPFM stations, the idea is not exactly new.

LPFM had existed for more than three decades in the United States, in the form of a “Class D” station license, first given out by the FCC in 1948. Class D stations were originally licensed at 10 watts on the FM band, within the region of 88 to 92 MHz (known as the “educational band” of FM radio).

There’s a specific reason for this: Class D stations were the FCC’s first attempt to bring more schools and colleges onto the air – a way to give potential broadcasters an outlet for hands-on training while not breaking an institution’s bank operating it (in radio, the more power you want, the more expensive it gets).

Eventually, Class D FM stations were allowed power levels between 1 and 100 watts. They were strictly non-commercial, and were only licensed to educational institutions. Major demand for Class D stations didn’t happen – this is due in part to two specific reasons.

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed this Act into law, and in doing so, made federal funding available for non-commercial educational radio stations. It fundamentally changed the idea of what non-commercial educational stations should be.

The first goal of the Act was to establish a national “public radio” network. Three years later, National Public Radio was born, providing programming far above the level Class D stations were equipped to deliver on their own.

This was a very significant development, as it defined what’s considered contemporary “public radio” today. The powers-that-be felt that “public radio” should provide a nationally-accessible educational service – kind of as a “school on the airwaves.” Therefore, its outlet would be on educational stations.

Although many Class D stations were licensed to educational institutions, because of their small signal range they were often used as on-air radio laboratories – places where budding broadcasters and other students could experiment with radio (and make mistakes). As a result, the quality of the programming didn’t measure up to the standards of National Public Radio.

An on-air broadcast lab isn’t always educational for a listener – but screwing up live is a great way for future broadcasters to learn their lessons. Class D stations were, in many ways, the perfect stepping stone to go from classroom to career. However, such a situation was incompatible with NPR’s mission.

Educational Radio’s Identity Crisis

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 threw the definition of “educational broadcasting” into disarray: were Class D stations intended to be places where students of radio could learn, or were they supposed to provide an education to the listening audience? The two goals were worthy but often couldn’t be accomplished together.

Some thought NPR-style educational programming provided the best public service a station could give: enlightening listeners with material commercial radio simply wouldn’t program. Others thought an on-air laboratory was better, because of the opportunity it gave radio professionals of the future to hone their skills: that would make for a ready “talent pool” for the radio industry.

Some Class D stations became ardent subscribers to the national public radio theory and “professionalized” their operations. They hired full-time staff to manage and program them. The students were effectively cut out of the equation. Many of these operations also upped their wattage, shedding their Class D license status in the process.

The vast remainder of Class D stations remained student-run, programming what those students in the studio wanted to hear. On-air mistakes were common, and while professionalism was often absent, it didn’t mean the programming suffered: the on-air liberty afforded to students in such operations often made for innovative broadcasts.

It is the spirit of the Class D radio laboratory-type station which fueled the renaissance of college radio in the late 1980s and early 1990s – when “alternative” music began its rise in popularity and forced change in the recording industry. Non-NPR non-commercial educational stations were the ones breaking new acts – and as soon as record labels recognized that fact, they jumped in head-first. It was the handful of Class D stations still on the air that often led the way.

By this time, though, LPFM in America had all but been outlawed.

Class D Licenses Disappear

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting completely abandoned the “radio laboratory” idea in 1972. That year, CPB filed a petition with the FCC to effectively standardize educational radio in the United States along the national public radio model.

In its petition, the CPB challenged the legality of those student-run stations that still existed – claiming they didn’t effectively serve the public interest because their programming was so variable in quality and quantity. Student-run stations often shut down during school breaks and vacations, and often ran limited operating hours when school was in session.

The CPB saw this as a waste of radio space, as these small part-time stations were taking up parts of the spectrum where higher-power “public radio” might otherwise be available.

The FCC apparently agreed, and decided to phase out the Class D license in 1978. Those Class Ds that did not upgrade their power above 100 watts were kicked out of the 88-92 MHz part of the FM band. Class D operations that couldn’t find space in the commercial segment of the spectrum (93-108 MHz) were forced off the air.

Not all Class Ds were killed off, though – some still exist to this day (including my old college radio station, still on the air with 36 watts just outside the Chicago metro area).

The Rise of Translators

By 1980, while many Class D educational stations had upgraded their licenses and power to the new minimum requirements, there were still a lot of holes left in the non-commercial educational FM band that could be served by lower-wattage stations.

Although translator stations have been around since 1970, it was not until the end of Class D station era that their use exploded.

The opportunity was seized by religious broadcasters, who took advantage of the new openings on the spectrum by applying for and receiving approval to place translator stations throughout the country.

Here’s how it worked: a religious organization would apply for an open channel in an area where there was enough room on the dial for a translator.

Translators are easy to set up and maintain. Once a translator license was approved, the cost of to establish and operate it was picked up by wealthy individuals in the communities the translator served; religious broadcasters had struck upon an effective low-cost method for spreading their “Word.”

The FCC welcomed the applications, as nobody could run a “real” radio station anymore at such low power, and it’s a shame to see useable spectrum lie fallow.

There are thousands of these automated re-broadcasters on the air now; the most notable exploiters of translators are the American Family Association, Family Radio and the Moody Bible Institute, who have literally hundreds each in operation nationwide.

The explosion in translators has effectively crowded out the possibility for LPFM stations in areas that could otherwise be served, but since LPFM had been outlawed, no real problem existed.

By the mid-1990s, as the powers-that-be made their next move to regulate radio, the potential benefits of LPFM stations again took center stage.

Microradio Steals the Show

Mbanna Kantako was not looking to found a movement when he began WTRA, a one-watt FM station out of his apartment in a housing project in Springfield, Illinois in 1987. He and his comrades turned to the airwaves as a means to spread the word about the rampant police brutality taking place in their neighborhood.

Legally blind and lacking money, it seemed that Kantako was asking for trouble. While the Springfield police did try to get him taken off the air, Kantako’s unusual situation – and the fact that he was airing complete, unedited stories of the brutality (sometimes as they happened, live) put the FCC in an unsual position.

Busting Mbanna Kantako was not only politically stupid, but the man had made a point. The people were heard; police loosened their grip on the collective neck of Springfield’s African community.

Kantako’s been fined but refuses to pay. He remains on the air today as Human Rights Radio, and has expanded his outreach to his community’s youth, setting up numerous after-school programs to instill a sense of identity and pride in a community shunned by the rest of Springfield.

The biggest explosion of LPFM activity was still a few years off when Stephen Dunifer made national headlines in his battle with the FCC.

In 1993, moved by Kantako’s drive and message, Dunifer founded Free Radio Berkeley, a 40-watt FM station on a shoestring budget from an apartment. In a way, Dunifer, resurrected the Class D station concept.

He wasn’t out to specifically do that – after 11 years of intense pro-business deregulation by the Reagan and Bush administrations, and incensed by the corporate media’s cheerleading for Gulf War I, Dunifer had simply had enough. As an experienced electronics technician, Stephen designed his own transmitter and began mass-producing kits that spread across the nation.

Access to cheap transmitter kits – and the spread of Free Radio Berkeley’s ideas via the fledgling ‘net – helped fuel the first insurgence of unlicensed LPFM broadcasters.

It didn’t take long before Dunifer’s public displays of unlicensed broadcasting brought the FCC into the picture. Stephen stepped up the pressure, challenging the agency’s rules in court.

Dunifer believed, in short, that if the airwaves were truly for the people, than as a member of “the people,” he had a First Amendment right to broadcast. Free Radio Berkeley also helped prove that microradio stations didn’t harm megawatt station signals, so long as their transmitters were well-tuned and maintained responsibly. At the least, Dunifer’s briefs argued, the FCC should bring back something akin to the Class D license.

Free Radio Berkeley is now off the air after losing the last round in court, but it did win some of the legal skirmishes on its trip through the justice system. These temporary victories helped to give the fledgling microradio movement a little room to breathe and grow.

As the ’90s wore on, Stephen Dunifer’s argument began hitting closer to home as an even larger scheme radio regulatory “reform” was unleashed.

The Telecom Act of 1996

In 1996, Congress completely revamped the Telecommunications Act – the federal laws that govern every method of communication in America. It was a job that hadn’t been comprehensively done since 1934, and the emergence of new communications technologies (primarily the Internet) spurred the government into the activity of updating these rules and regulations.

However, the Telecom Act of ’96 was also hog heaven for special interests – especially broadcasters.

Much of the prime-time spotlight focused on the largest piece of pork: a multi-billion dollar allocation of broadcast spectrum – for free – to licensed TV stations for the upcoming digital television (DTV) service.

In the event of two competing applicants for one open broadcasting frequency in a market, the FCC usually gives the license to the highest bidder. By giving existing license holders all the existing DTV space, it effectively guaranteed the status quo on the media landscape (with crisper pictures and sound). At the time, it was a mind-boggling piece of corporate welfare.

It hardly made the news.

The radio industry made off with a nice slice of pork of its own – the previous Telecom Act only allowed one company to own a maximum of two radio stations per market, and a maximum of 20 stations nationally. In the 1996 Act, that maximum cap was raised to eight stations per market, and the national cap was abolished.

A wave of consolidation ensued, the likes of which no communications industry has seen before or since. Companies devoured one another, growing and growing until 1999 – where one company legally owned more than 700 radio stations nationwide. In 2004, the largest radio conglomerate, Clear Channel Communications, owned more than 1,200 stations.

Consolidation has proved quite lucrative for radio broadcasters. With more stations to sell under one roof, they close larger advertising contracts for package deals across stations and markets. And since there’s less competition, ad rates have gone up.

In order to maximize profits, radio conglomerates have “streamlined” operations. This meant the firing of all “duplicate” employees. The first positions on the chopping block were the talent – the people on the air in every station, in every community, who gave each individual station its personality.

The local talent was replaced by cheaper alternatives, namely computer automation and syndicated programming. News departments were the most decimated because they cost so much for such a little slice of programming time.

On a music station, it is now possible for a “DJ” to go into a studio, speak words into a computer, and have the computer place the “voice tracks” in between songs where appropriate – to give the appearance of being live on the air.

Complaints began to crop up among the listening public that radio was beginning to sound the same, and they were right. It’s because the hometown radio station no longer existed in most markets. In fact, it is now possible to listen to stations in communities separated thousands of miles apart and not be able to tell much difference between them.

Because of this, radio stations lost their most important attribute – their connection to the communities they served. One of the things that made radio such an effective tool of mass communication was its localism. While de-humanizing has left the radio industry full of cash, it’s an empty shell of what it once was.

Telecom Backlash and the Second Rise of LPFM

Following the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as more and more stations began to be controlled by less and less people, some disenfranchised listeners took it upon themselves to make change. Borrowing Dunifer’s argument about public access to the airwaves as justification, these people set up their own stations and began broadcasting without licenses.

Some of these people were electronics hobbyists; others were activists; quite a few were in the radio industry themselves. Station operators ranged from contrarians in Pennsylvania to club promoters in Ohio to patriots in Washington State.

It doesn’t take much money to put a micropower station on the air, and because the power levels often used were under 100 watts (a la the old Class D license), there was room on the dial to be found for them.

As the movement grew various electronics manufacturers jumped into the market with their own kit designs, while others began offering pre-assembled and tested transmitters. This brought the price down even further, while raising the quality of the equipment – and, ultimately, the broadcasts.

More and more people began to find their radio voices: by 1998 hundreds of microradio stations had taken to the air. By the FCC’s count, it closed down more than 250 of them that year, although documentation to back up this claim is nearly impossible to find.

FCC Smackdown Backfires

However, what was known about FCC busts were enough to spur others to action. For example, patriot broadcaster Arthur Lonnie Kobres and radio electronics businessman Doug Brewer set up microradio stations in Lutz and Tampa, Florida, respectively. They both ran their operations in full view, publicizing their activities and encouraging people to listen in, while ignoring repeated FCC warnings and visits.

Because of their brazenness, both were raided on November 19, 1997 – and in brutal fashion. Doug Brewer and his wife were handcuffed on the floor of their home while government agents, armed with automatic weapons, destroyed his radio station and parts of his home. Kobres was eventually arrested for running his radio station, and was convicted of a felony, becoming the first American ever to receive and serve a criminal sentence for broadcasting.

The perception of big government cracking down on individuals helped fan the flames of the microradio movement and spurred even more stations to take to the air.

Throughout the mid-1990s, the FCC was hit with a series of budget cutbacks that forced the agency to consolidate its enforcement offices into regional locations. This helped foster the growth of microradio, as the number of stations on the air overwhelmed the manpower available to police the airwaves.

What happened was a simple act of civil disobedience. In a quintessential American way, microradio stations allowed a non-violent method for people to air their grievances with the state of radio. It was a good time for four people from widely differing backgrounds to petition the FCC to bring low-power stations back to life – legally.

FCC Accepts LPFM Petitions

Nickolaus and Judith Leggett weren’t notables in the radio industry until they formally petitioned the FCC to re-establish low power radio licenses. Just two radio enthusiasts in Virginia – but the couple recognized the glaring lack of localism in radio and struck on an idea to fix the problem.

With the help of former Capitol Hill lobbyist and Connecticut attorney Don Schellhardt (who has no background in radio but was similarly concerned about the state of the media), the three filed a petition with the FCC to consider their idea. It called for low-power AM and FM stations, ranging from one to 100 watts, and an ownership restriction of five stations maximum.

The goal, according to the Leggetts and Schellhardt, was to foster “the ties of community identity…in urban neighborhoods, rural towns, and other communities which are currently too small to win much attention from mainstream, ratings-driven media.”

It would be a perfect outlet to “experiment with new ideas” and expand community dialogue, “without running the financial risk that a larger station might incur.”

This proposal struck a chord with a Federal Communications Commission populated with appointments made by President Clinton. The most influential of these was Chairman William Kennard, the FCC’s former top Legal Counsel – and, ironically, the man who oversaw the case of Stephen Dunifer and Free Radio Berkeley.

The Leggetts and Schellhardt envisioned microstations as being catalysts to bring people together while increasing public access to and diversity on the dial.

Kennard saw the benefits of such an idea, and the Commission voted to proceed with the proposal. It was assigned the official title RM-9208 on February 5, 1998.

Meanwhile, Rodger Skinner, a broadcast engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the industry and the owner of a low power television station, was also pondering the viability of low power radio.

Skinner had extensive experience dealing with the FCC. He wrote the original proposal that gave radio stations the right to place small transmitters in tunnels, helping them to avoid the signal loss that often happened when cars passed through.

He had also been attempting to get a license with the FCC for his own full-power radio station in various places in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S., but without success. Skinner’s own desires, in combination with his massive amount of technical expertise, led to him file his own low power radio petition.

Skinner’s petition, filed seven months after the first, proposed a new class of “radio entrepreneur” on the airwaves. He wanted FM stations ranging in power from 50 to 3,000 watts, with a national ownership cap of three stations.

Skinner, too, gave a nod to those who had helped force the FCC into a position to consider his plea. “There are many throughout America today willing to risk severe punishment just to be heard,” he wrote. “As an observer, I fear that to ignore this large number of citizens…and deny them a voice could have severe repercussions in the future.”

Because Skinner backed up his idea with credible engineering data to show it was feasible, the FCC decided to consider his proposal as well – assigning it the title RM-9242 on February 20, 1998.

High-Power Broadcasters React to Low Power Radio

The National Associaton of Broadcasters, the industry’s main muscle in Washington, D.C., paid attention to the massive uprising in “pirate radio” during the late 1990s. As early as 1997, the NAB declared war on unlicensed broadcasters, urging its members to scan their local radio dials and turn in any pirates they could find.

Simultaneously, with its massive lobbying resources and financial backing, the NAB began hitting the FCC hard with criticism. After all, it was one of the major masterminds behind the Telecommunications Act of 1996. If it could craft an entirely new law of the land, it should surely be able to crush a small revolt challenging its effects.

The chairman of one of the Congressional committees that oversees the FCC’s budget, Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin, received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the NAB. He threatened to cut the FCC’s funding if it continued to consider re-legalizing low power radio.

The radio industry claimed that allowing such stations on the air would not only create massive interference to their operations, but threatened the economic stability of many stations.

Neither of these arguments made much sense – the “traditional” FM radio station operates with a power measured in the thousands of watts. Low power stations operate with wattages much smaller than that. If anything, the bigger station would interfere with the smaller one.

The buzz-phrase surrounding the NAB’s primary argument was
“spectrum efficiency” – ironically, the same phrase the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (who also officially opposed RM-9208 and 9242) used back in 1972 to convince the FCC to outlaw low power FM radio in the first place.

In the meantime, the commercial radio industry was thriving like never before. The consolidation and streamlining of operational costs took revenues to an all-time high. But listenership was in decline, and the number of unlicensed low power stations continued to grow.

There was a fundamental problem with the turn radio had taken: traditional broadcasters sensed the dissatisfaction in the public with the product it presented and were afraid they would be forced to change their ways away from maximizing profits and minimizing substance.

After hearing both sides of the argument on RM-9208 and 9242, and faced with the increasing flood of unlicensed stations taking to the airwaves, the FCC chose to begin the process of resurrecting a licensed low power radio service.

FCC Proposes Re-Legalization

The reasons for the FCC’s relegalization of LPFM were two-fold. Two parties had filed petitions asking the agency to do it, and there had been a massive explosion in the number of LPFM “pirates” since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

These two reasons go hand-in-hand and neither of them could have accomplished anything if they had occurred separately. RM-9208 and -9242 wouldn’t have made it out of the circular file if the FCC couldn’t see the public demand for the service. They had that evidence from the radio cops’ case load. And the “pirates” wouldn’t have gotten the Commission to listen to their demands if two sets of kindred spirits hadn’t formally engaged them in dialogue.

After placing the two proposals out for public comment, the FCC received hundreds of responses, overwhelmingly in favor of re-legalizing LPFM. In 1998 alone, the Commission fielded more than 20,000 inquiries from citizens who wanted to start their own stations. It was pressured to act, plain and simple.

On January 28, 1999, the FCC released MM 99-25, its own formal proposal to create a new LPFM service. The five-member commission was not unanimously in favor of advancing the idea, though: only two of the five, Chairman William Kennard and Commissioner Gloria Tristani, were wholeheartedly in support of it.

“We cannot deny opportunities to those who want to use the airwaves to speak to their communities simply because it might be inconvenient for those who already have these opportunities,” said the two in a joint statement the day the LPFM proposal was released.

Commissioners Susan Ness and Michael Powell were skeptical about the idea. While both approved of LPFM in concept, they worried about the technical challenges of both implementing and enforcing the service.

Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, however, hated the idea. “Good — arguably better, even — alternatives for the dissemination of messages in America certainly exist,” he said. “And the administrative burdens on the Commission will likely be great. Accordingly, I do not think this proposal represents an efficient use of radio spectrum.”

A look into Furchtgott-Roth’s pre-FCC background partly explains his opposition; in the three years before being appointed to the Commission, Furchtgott-Roth was a high-level staffer for the U.S. House Committee on Commerce.

It’s the House committee most-lobbied by the NAB, as it handles the House’s oversight of the FCC. His public statement on the day of MM 99-25’s release unabashedly mirrors the things the NAB and other broadcast special interests had been saying during the debate over the initial two LPFM proposals.

Nuts and Bolts of 99-25

MM 99-25 essentially took the best qualities of the two petitions filed to re-create LPFM, modified them slightly, and asked for a lot more public input. If the service was legalized as written, it would have created three classes of stations. Power levels would be set at 10, 100 and 1000 watts respectively, allowing the most powerful to cover a service area more than 17 miles wide. The least powerful was projected to cover three to four miles with its signal.

It encouraged potential LPFM licensees to live within the communities their stations would serve, but didn’t put a maximum cap on the number of stations one person or corporation could own. It also asked for more comment on several issues, like whether LPFM programming should require local origination; whether or not the stations could sell commercials; and if electronic filing would help get more people to apply for licenses.

But MM 99-25’s most controversial suggestion involved relaxing the current FM interference standards. By loosening these up, more LPFM stations could be fit on the spectrum. Here’s a simple example of how the change would work:

Under current rules, FM stations must not only make sure not to cause interference with those stations that share its own frequency (or channel), but also with those three channels away on either side. This is called first, second and third-adjacency interference protection.

Under the FCC’s proposal, LPFM stations would’ve only had to worry about interfering with those stations on the neighboring (first adjacent) channels. It was an important proposed change in policy because it would allow LPFM stations on the air where second and third-adjacent channel restrictions would otherwise prohibit them.

This fueled the major bone of contention surrounding the LPFM debate – the potential for interference between stations. The NAB and its member stations claimed that relaxing the protection standards would lead to chaos on the FM band, making their stations unlistenable to many. But proponents of LPFM argued that because full-power stations operate at such higher wattages than LPFM stations, there’d be no real problems.

FM radio receivers are built in such a way that if two competing signals are received, the radio will automatically lock onto the stronger of the two. With full power FM stations operating at thousands of watts and LPFM stations operating at powers as low as 100 watts or less, it was tough to take the NAB’s major argument seriously.

Nonetheless, the broadcast industry spent a lot of money to produce a “technical study” claiming that most FM radios would have problems with new LPFM stations. However, at least two other studies were conducted that came to the opposite conclusion. One of them was done by the FCC itself, who said, “all the receivers in the sample, except for two, appear to meet or exceed the…second adjacent channel protection criterion and to exceed the…third adjacent channel protection criterion by a substantial margin.”

Congress Gets Involved

MM 99-25’s battleground was huge. The National Association of Broadcasters, most of its member stations, and other radio organizations, including National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, all opposed the proposal.

LPFM’s advocates included dozens of various public interest groups, religious organizations, and civil rights leaders, including the United States Catholic Conference, Consumers Union, AFL-CIO and the Navajo Nation. More than 2,000 individuals (including many professional broadcasters) also filed comments with the FCC in support of LPFM.

Taken together, MM 99-25 set a record for the amount of public input ever received on an FCC proposal. The public comment window closed on November 15, 1998.

But because the broadcast lobby is the richest and most powerful on Capitol Hill, the NAB called in its investments in Congress, already assuming a losing battle in front of the FCC.

Several members of the House of Representatives, who were paid well by the NAB, proposed a bill which would stop the FCC from continuing its work on LPFM, and prohibit the agency from ever considering the idea again.

The diversity of LPFM’s supporters, in a way, actually hurt them in the brewing fight on Capitol Hill. Because so many individuals and groups had so many different ideas on what to do with the potential service and how it should be structured, they could only agree on its necessity. They couldn’t fully unify around their own coherent lobbying effort because of their widely differing views on the details.

But killing LPFM through legislation would be difficult: not only did the broadcast industry need to convince the House to pass the bill but the Senate also had to approve, and the President had sign it into law.

Even if legal LPFM were to become reality it was clear that it wouldn’t stop unlicensed broadcasting. Many active “pirates” didn’t feel the LPFM’s service went far enough to open up the airwaves and stayed on the air, all but ignoring the growing hoopla in Washington.

FCC Legalizes LPFM

On January 20, 2000, the Federal Communications Commission voted in a split-decision to create a low power FM radio service. Stations would have power levels between 1 and 100 watts, be entirely non-commercial, and would take advantage of only slightly reduced interference restrictions.

However, it was not clear how LPFM would fit into the FCC’s pending action on digital audio broadcasting, or exactly how many usable frequencies would actually be opened in urban markets, the areas that needed the stations the most.

The first application window opened and closed in the beginning of June, 2000, netting more than 700 applications in the 10 states and two territories that were allowed to apply for the first licenses.

Ironically, after the rule was issued, religious organizations (including those who operated translator station networks) began applying like mad for open frequencies around the country. The most organized efforts to spread the word and knowledge about LPFM were led by the United Church of Christ and the Prometheus Radio Project. Local church groups also made up a sizeable segment of the first LPFM applicants.

Congress Moves to Kill

Following the FCC’s decision to re-legalize Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations in January 2000, Big Broadcasting’s lobbyists went to work in Congress, kicking their effort to ban LPFM through rewriting law into high gear.

No tactic, it seemed, was out-of-bounds. The National Association of Broadcasters even went so far as to put together a compact disc filled with sample “sounds of interference” LPFM stations would cause and gave a copy to each member of Congress.

What the lawmakers didn’t know, or understand, was the sounds they were hearing were artificially manufactured and, therefore, designed to mislead. However, this CD was played nearly in its entirety in front of a House Subcommittee at an open hearing. That act skirted the bounds of legality, but it definitely crossed the ethical line.

Nonetheless, a massive effort to try and debunk the propaganda fell short: on April 13, by a more than two-to-one margin, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3439, the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act.”

The Act would have cut the number of open frequencies possible for LPFM station placement by more than 80% while placing the entire program under the control of Congress, who retained the option to shut the entire LPFM program down by as early as February of 2001.

The masterstroke that led to the House’s passage of the anti-LPFM bill was an unlikely lobbying alliance between the NAB and National Public Radio, who also feared competition from the new LPFM stations. The joint effort hoodwinked liberal and conservative members of the House alike into voting for the bill.

The Senate Screwdriver

The anti-LPFM rhetoric didn’t play as well in the Senate, where the number of supporters of the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act” (S. 2068) was much slower to grow.

Part of the reason was due to the dubious moves of Arizona Senator John McCain. While he’d previously spoken out against the idea of LPFM, he took the Senate sponsors of the anti-LPFM bill to task for trying to stifle the diversity it would provide. Since McCain controlled the committee the bill would have to pass through before a vote, there was a good chance it wouldn’t get far.

Instead, McCain proposed his own LPFM legislation, called the “FM Radio Broadcasting Act.” His bill would have allowed the FCC to roll out low power radio on schedule, but it could have opened up license applicants to frivolous lawsuits from full-power station owners – draining fledgling stations of their funds could have killed them just as surely as if the House-approved bill became law.

Courts and Counterattacks

While the foes of LPFM worked to kill the plan through Congress, they also began a “Plan B” through the courts. The NAB filed a motion to have the D.C. District Court suspend the FCC’s new LPFM rules, claiming that the agency moved too quickly on the idea without considering the consequences. The suit lost in the first round and in the summer of 2000 it moved to the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, some of LPFM’s most vocal supporters did a surprising about-face and petitioned the FCC to reconsider its rulemaking – right in the middle of the agency’s first LPFM license application window.

The Amherst Alliance, a grassroots LPFM advocacy group co-founded by Schellhardt, and a slew of individuals filed a Motion to Reconsider out of protest at the FCC’s planned LPFM applicant screening process.

The objection, in a nutshell, was that the FCC had set the qualifications for getting a license too high and had banned part of the unlicensed microradio movement from the process – cutting out a large number of those who worked so hard to give the original proposal its momentum.

The FCC denied the motion to reconsider and moved on sluggishly with plans to issue LPFM licenses. On Capitol Hill, the lobbying war heated up.

Microradio Gets a Strategy Overhaul

Excluded from LPFM almost from the start (even though they’d been catalysts for change), radio “pirates” in the United States went back to broadcasting. Over an early June weekend in 2000, past, present and future unlicensed broadcasters met in a “Micropower Council of War” in San Francisco.

Led by Free Radio Berkeley founder Stephen Dunifer, they drafted a platform under the moniker of the Micropower Action Coalition. The agenda called for stepped-up efforts to put more unlicensed stations on the air, spread the word about the movement’s existence, and – for the first time – start initiatives to directly pressure licensed broadcasters.

This new tactic involved two parts: challenging station licenses when they came up for renewal and going after stations’ pocketbooks by convincing advertisers to drop accounts with radio stations.

It’s risky enough just to simply operate an unlicensed station – and even more so to admit it publicly. But instead of just taking the heat, the micropower movement was asked to dish some of it back.

At the same time, the FCC was still going after “pirate radio” with zeal. The crackdown on pirate stations, began at the NAB’s behest in 1997, continued. By mid-2000, the FCC claimed it has shut down 50 stations. It also requested an increase in its enforcement budget for the 2001 fiscal year.

Facing the Enemy

Massive petition drives, letter-writing and phone call campaigns to Congressfolk commenced; some lobbying firms in Washington even lent support on a pro bono basis to try and save low power radio.

Several thousand people also took their message to the streets of San Francisco during the annual NAB radio convention in 2000. While radio industry managers and executives bought each other drinks and discussed mega-deals, protesters thronged the convention site and marched through the streets.

Several confrontations ensued over the course of the convention; some protesters infiltrated inside and disrupted speeches and seminars. Others locked themselves inside the convention hall lobby and had to be cut free by police and firefighters.

A large group of protesters even marched from the NAB convention to the local offices of Clear Channel Communications – the largest radio station group owner in America, with several stations under its thumb in San Francisco.

During confrontations outside the Clear Channel offices, DJs from the corporate stations came out onto the street to harass and assault demonstrators. Some protesters were roughed up and arrested – nothing ever happened to the Clear Channel thugs.

The NAB protest weekend concluded with a massive rally and concert in downtown San Francisco. More than two thousand were on hand for the final festivities. That same night, the NAB was handing out its annual “Marconi Awards” to selected stations just two blocks away.

Once the concert ended, a large part of the audience marched to the hotel where the industry banquet was taking place, bringing riot police onto the scene to stop the mob.

During the protest events, cells of microbroadcasters got together and planned strategies to further the proliferation of unlicensed stations nationwide. Participants in these strategy sessions also vowed to directly confront the corporate media properties in their own communities.

Trumped in Congress

By the fall of 2000, the broadcast industry’s legion of sympathetic votes in Congress had grown substantially. It got the House of Representatives to approve the “Radio Preservation Act” by a substantial margin, and it looked like the votes were coming together in the Senate.

But rather than risking debate on the Senate floor, as battles over the Federal Budget ran into overtime, the NAB convinced Minnesota Senator Rod Grams to attach the anti-LPFM bill to a spending measure funding the FCC and other federal agencies.

On a voice vote alone, this spending bill was approved in December, 2000, and the controversy over the presidential election obscured any scrutiny. Lame-duck president Bill Clinton could not veto the entire budget bill just because of the LPFM “rider,” so he signed it into law.

Victory!,” screamed NAB and NPR. Using the most underhanded political maneuver available, America’s major broadcast radio interests convinced Congress to eviscerate the LPFM plan.

Over at the FCC, more than a thousand applications for new low power radio stations had already been sent in, filed under the program’s original, less-restrictive rules.

Due to the Congressional meddling in the LPFM service, well more than half – a number FCC Chairman Kennard estimated at more than 80% – of those applications had to be thrown out, just a few bureaucratic steps away from becoming new community voices.

Following the defeat, several Congressfolk who backed the industry cutback in the LPFM plan were either voted out or retired from office. Minnesota Senator Rod Grams, who acted as the front-man for the poison pill, was ousted in a close election.

Political Fallout

As Republicans assumed near-complete control of the federal government in 2001, the prospects for low power radio to flourish grew dimmer.

Republican Congressfolk were more likely than not to support the radio industry’s position on low power radio. This did not deter Senator McCain from attempting to right the wrong. McCain was incensed that the jurisdiction of his Senate Commerce Committee was bypassed during the Federal Budget process.

In late February, 2001, McCain introduced the “Low Power Radio Act of 2001,” which would undo the damage the broadcast lobby did to the new LPFM service. The bill would repeal the restrictions forced on LPFM while shielding new stations from potential legal harassment from large corporate radio outlets.

Unfortunately, LPFM was already a dead issue in D.C., and the bill went nowhere.

The FCC in 2001

The Federal Communications Commission, at its highest levels, is also a creature of politics, and when the winds shifted from left to right in the 2000 elections, several high-level officials at the FCC saw the writing on the wall.

The first to leave was FCC Chairman William Kennard. Having been appointed by a Democratic President, he knew his time was running out, and he gracefully resigned before President Clinton left office in January, 2001.

It should be noted that the ruling political party in Washington has ultimate control of the FCC; representatives of that party fill three seats on the five-member Commission.

Newly-inaugurated President George W. Bush tapped FCC Commissioner Michael Powell to chair the Commission. He was one of the two Republican FCC members left over from the Clinton administration, and his industry-friendly decisions, statements and speeches made him a popular pick with the lobbyists.

Powell quickly appointed a vice president from Disney’s washington offices to serve as his chief of staff. Powell’s father, Colin Powell (Secretary of State), once served on the board of America Online – whose mega-merger with Time Warner was approved, in part, by his son.

Powell did not recuse himself from the merger vote: subsequently, his father’s stock interests in AOL soared in value.

Michael Powell is not friendly to low power radio. He was the only Commissioner to split his vote on LPFM’s approval. After assuming the role of Chairman, Powell has tendered conservative lip service to the ideals behind low power radio but has not pushed the agency toward implementing the new service.

Ultimately, several hundred new stations may be licensed around the country, but most (if not all) will be located in relatively rural areas. It is a fact that a significant majority of Americans will not be able to pick up any new stations on their dial.

Back to Breaking the Law

While several unlicensed microbroadcasters voluntarily left the air in hopes of receiving an LPFM license, the cutback in the new service discouraged many potential LPFM station applicants – but some are going on the air anyway.

Spurred by the strategies laid out by the Micropower War Council meetings, broadcasters are implementing more guerrilla-style tactics in their general operations. Many broadcasters now move studio locations regularly, or set up to broadcast from special events within large crowds, where the FCC is less likely to step forward to challenge them.

Still, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau maintains that cracking down on unlicensed broadcasting remains a top priority. As spring began in 2001, FCC efforts against pirates were apparently stepped up nationwide. The agency went on a spree of stiff fines, station raids and equipment seizures against stations around the country.

Such boldness has been met by equal vitriol from the microbroadcasters, who vow to get more stations on the air to replace those silenced.

A good example of a rebound in radio activism following an FCC sweep the case of Austin, Texas. In 2000, two high-profile microradio stations were raided and silenced. One station, Free Radio Austin, was hit twice.

Instead of caving to government pressure, microradio activists in Austin are pressed forward on all fronts – some have joined forces with San Marcos, TX-based Micro Kind Radio and pursued a federal lawsuit against the FCC. Others started the “Austin Resistance Radio project,” using small, mobile FM transmitters to conduct hit-and-run broadcasts throughout the Texas capital.

Most of the hype over legalization has passed, and the tried-and-true game of cat-and-mouse has evolved. For many microradio activists, the LPFM issue was an educational diversion that has only strengthened their resolve to bring more voices to the radio dial, one way or another.

For some, this includes incorporating new tactics for getting on the air – some of which involve temporarily “borrowing” legal stations’ signals. This tactic “brings the message home” in two ways – it liberates a frequency for public use (albeit temporarily), and it attacks the “legitimate” media directly.

Most of this extreme activity has been limited to translator stations because of their remote and unmanned nature. Such escalation in the war for the airwaves is risky, and the long-term strategy of it is unproven at this point.

Microradio and LPFM in the 21st Century

In 2001, the FCC opened up first filing window for LPFM station applicants. The filing window was spread over a several-month period, with the timing divided by region to prepare the FCC to process the expected torrent of LPFM applications.

Leading up to this window, the Prometheus Radio Project – founded by members of Philadelphia’s Radio Mutiny – conducted a nationwide evangelism campaign to inform and organize interested parties to apply for LPFM stations.

The FCC ultimately received several thousand applications for new LPFM stations. Within two years it had processed and awarded construction permits to more than 1,000 organizations.

During the 2000s, the Prometheus Radio Project traveled the country conducting more than a dozen station “barnraisings,” both to spread the technical and organizational knowledge of grassroots broadcasting and to bring LPFM advocates together to experience tangible success.

In addition, LPFM advocates began a campaign in 2002 to convince Congress to repeal the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act. During years of Republican control, the bill never made it out of both the requisite House and Senate committees.

However, during the end of the 2000s, what became known as the Local Community Radio Act slowly advanced through the legislative grind, session by session, and after nearly 20 attempts it was approved by the lame-duck Congress of 2010.

The Local Community Radio Act effectively repeals the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act, but does not completely restore LPFM to the scope as first envisioned by the FCC in 2000. It removes the key third-adjacency frequency provisions which hobbled the service by Congressional fiat in 2001 but still gives full-power and translator stations spectral primacy over LPFM stations.

The Local Community Radio Act will open the FM dial to hundreds of new LPFM stations – for the first time in large urban areas.

Between the passage of the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act and the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA) – a 10-year window – more than 800 LPFM stations took to the air. About half are owned by religious licensees, and the rest by a wide range of community organizations, which range the gamut from existing community groups to social justice organizations.

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, WQRZ-LP was the only station in its area to remain on the air, broadcasting life-saving information during the storm and its aftermath.

However, during the same time period, the FCC only opened that singular LPFM filing window, and the use of FM translators exploded. This resulted in the flooding of the FM dial with thousands of non-local repeater-stations which mopped up spectrum that might have otherwise gone to LPFM stations. Relative to LPFM’s birth in the first decade of the 21st century, the proliferation of translators is gigantic.

In addition, commercial and public broadcasters began a campaign to encourage the adoption of a digital radio broadcast technology called “HD Radio.” The FCC sanctioned the use of HD Radio technology in 2002; more than 2,000 stations have adopted the technology, which is filled with technological and economic pitfalls that do not make it a viable option for U.S. radio’s digital future.

HD Radio directly effects LPFM stations because it uses more spectrum than an analog FM signal does. As thousands of full-power stations squat on expanded chunks of spectrum, this has the potential to squeeze the future expansion and viability of LPFM. Among LPFM stations, HD Radio is a non-starter.

Meanwhile, microradio operators who opted out of LPFM continue to flourish with abandon.

The number of enforcement actions against pirate stations positively exploded during the first decade of the 21st century. However, after a four-year campaign of heightened (and mostly administrative) enforcement against microradio stations, the FCC’s pirate-bust activity began a decline in 2010.

“Typical” stations are now run by individuals or small groups; they serve historically underrepresented and growing immigrant populations; and are not afraid of engaging in forms of commercialism which both supports their operations and their local economy.

Although microradio is no longer organized around a movement paradigm with an explicit political goal, the number of stations on the air now is larger than ever before in U.S. broadcast history.

Established hot-spots, such as southern Florida and the New York, San Francisco, and Boston metropolitan areas, have dozens of pirate stations on the air, and their ranks. By 2010, stations like Mbanna Kantako’s Human Rights Radio and Freak Radio Santa Cruz have racked up 15 and 23 years of broadcasts respectively.

In Florida and New Jersey, commercial broadcasters convinced their state legislatures to pass their own laws criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting, but these have proven wholly ineffectual in prodding or assisting the FCC to contain the growth of microbroadcasting.

Microradio stations continue to meet the needs of communities where the limits of LPFM prevent it from doing so, such as those in extreme poverty and dense urban markets. LPFM represents a capstone in the 70-year struggle to legalize real community radio in the United States, but the insatiable and changing demands of the public for access to the airwaves remains.

Berkeley Liberation Radio Collateral Damage in FBI Raid By John Anderson via diymedia

By John Anderson

in Microradio, Pirate Radio


September 04, 2008

An FBI raid last week on the Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley has taken Berkeley Liberation Radio off the air, hopefully temporarily. Details are sketchy as to why the FBI raided the space in the first place, but guns-drawn agents were not picky about what they hauled away.

From the story: “Soul, a long-time [BLR] broadcaster…said the underground radio station had been impacted by the raid. ‘We had some of our stuff there,’ she said. “They got our hard drive, and that really concerns us.’” What the FBI really got were two computers – an old PC and a laptop – that the station used as webcast-nodes to connect Berkeley Liberation Radio’s studio to its transmitter.

The raid also freaked out the host of BLR’s transmitter (which remains un-visited), and now the station must also find a new location to broadcast from. Cap’n Fred reports, “We’re not sure why the FBI wanted those hard drives but we suspect it might have something to do with some organizing against the republican convention. We really don’t know what it’s all about, but there is a lawsuit going to get the stuff back.”


Berkeley Liberation Radio Back On Air By John Anderson via

Berkeley Liberation Radio Back On Air; FRSD Raid Follow-Up

By John Anderson

in FCC, Microradio, Pirate Radio



July 25, 2005

According to the latest AMPB Report, Berkeley Liberation Radio returned to the East Bay airwaves at 6pm Sunday. The station has also vowed to start web streaming as well, but that seems like a stretch since its web site is perpetually under construction.

More press is available about Thursday’s raid on Free Radio San Diego, including another interview with Bob Ugly on Enemy Combatant Radio and some corporate media mentions. While FRSD is not pining for a fight in court (as it does not generally respect the FCC’s quasi-police function), it did send preemptive correspondence to the agency shortly after taking to the air, invoking the “perpetual war loophole” in FCC rules as justification to broadcast. So far the agency’s ignored that.

FCC Threatens Berkeley Liberation Radio

Daily Planet

Richard Brenneman
Tuesday June 21, 2005

The next sound a Berkeley Liberation Radio (BLR) broadcaster may hear just might be the dreaded knock on the door from a federal SWAT team. 

A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) notice served on the station Friday charges that 104.1 FM was operating without a license and that the station’s signal was bleeding into other, licensed frequencies. 

The action followed two days after federal agents served a cease and desist order at the station, which broadcasts from a second floor studio at 5427 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. 

For Screwy Lewie and Soul, the notice stirs up memories of the Dec. 11, 2002, raid when more than a dozen armed U.S. Marshals accompanied by an Oakland police officer raided the station and seized all the equipment and CDs, leaving behind only the station’s inventory of vinyl LP albums. 

“They shoved a gun into the face of a student who was visiting at the time,” said Soul, who hosts the Isabella Show Friday mornings at 7. 

“We were told not to go back on the air again, but we were collectively able to gather up new equipment and everything we needed to go back on the air again on Dec. 27. We’ve continued ever since.” 

Berkeley Liberation Radio is a classic example of microradio, the mostly unlicensed stations that broadcast at less than 100 watts of power—typically with a broadcasting radius of about five miles from the transmitter. 

When the FCC agreed to license microradio five years ago, the decision didn’t automatically legitimize the host of small stations, many distinctly leftist in character, that were broadcasting at the time. 

Instead, under the Bush administration, the lion’s share of licenses have been granted to churches. 

“They won’t license stations that had early actions against them,” said Screwy Lewie, who hosts “The Vinyl Time Machine.” 

A new raid would fit in with two other recent actions: an Oct. 15, 2003, raid on San Francisco Liberation Radio that shut down the station and a similar raid last Sept. 29 that shut down Radio Free Santa Cruz. 

Berkeley attorney Alan Korn, who has represented the San Francisco in challenging the action, said current federal legislation weighs heavily against microradio stations in urban areas. 

Under lobbying pressure from corporate broadcasters, Congress narrowed FCC regulations that defined the frequency distances between existing stations and microradio broadcasters, further limiting the opportunities for microradio in the heavily crowded urban airwaves. 

“The rules require huge gaps [between broadcast frequencies],” Korn said, “much more than necessary.” 

The FCC notice served Friday claims 104.1 is detectable above the allowable limits, and also charges that the station is also encroaching on frequencies used by air traffic controllers and aircraft at Oakland International Airport. 

Korn, who serves on the National Lawyers Guild’s Committee on Democratic Communication, said he is skeptical of the latter claim, “but it’s a good way to make certain that a judge will issue a warrant,” he said. 

While a federal trial-level judge rejected his appeal of the FFC seizure at the San Francisco, the case is now on appeal before the U.S. Courts of Appeals’ Ninth Circuit, traditionally the most liberal in the federal system. 

BLR staffers are quick to note that theirs isn’t a pirate radio station—an illegal broadcaster who usurps a frequency already assigned by the FCC.  

Soul noted that “the FCC is saying they won’t give a license to anyone they say has violated the law. Besides, that’s not our intent.” She doesn’t want the license herself.  

Unlike some of the all-volunteer staff, Screwy Lewie said he’d like to see the station get a license. 

Both broadcasters are long-term veterans of microradio. Soul’s been with BLR and its predecessor since 1998, and Screwy Lewie since 1996. 

After the closure of Radio Free Berkeley in June, 1998, BLR was born the following year outside the studios of KPFA when the station was forced briefly off the air. 

For Screwy Lewie, the station has helped him fulfill a lifelong dream. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do,” he said. 

And like others on the staff, he vows to keep the station running whatever happens with the pending FCC action. 

Asked about what was happening with BLR, an FCC official in Washington, speaking only on background, would allow only that no comment was possible because of the ongoing investigation. 


Second Crisis  

The current contretemps with the feds isn’t the station’s only crisis. Other tenants in the building they now use have complained that their transmitter is interfering with electronic equipment, leading to an eviction notice from their landlord. 

Even before the FCC notices, the station had planned a fundraiser for this Friday to help raise cash to find a new home for their operations. 

The $20 a head function will be held at the Oakland Metro near Jack London Square at 201 Broadway in Oakland starting at 7:30. n

Published by Free Radio Berkeley and the Free Communications Coalition

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Published by Free Radio Berkeley and the Free Communications Coalition

voicemail: (510) 464-3041
snailmail: Free Radio Berkeley, 1442 A Walnut St. #406, Berkeley, CA 94709
ftpsite: – directory: ftp/users/ro/frbspd

May/June 1994 Page numbers approximate, use word search

Press release of planned activities . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Micropower Broadcasting The Free 
Speech Movement Of The 90's . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Take Back The Airwaves - The Spring & Summer Offensive . . 5

San Francisco Liberation Radio To Take Free Speech Stand. .7

Jolly Roger Theatre Skewers The Policitical Elite . . . . .8

Fcc Pulls Plug On Bootleg Radio Station In Broadview . . . 8

Radio Kaos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

5...4...3...2...1...Anarchy! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Fcc Issues $17,500 Forfeiture To Pirate Broadcaster . . . 10

Andrew Yoder Responds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Micro Power Broadcasting, Technology For The People . . . 12

Kits & Accessories From Free Radio Berkeley . . . . . . . 13

5 Watt Transmitter Modification 
Improves Stability & Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Protect Your Equipment From Reversed Voltage Leads . . . .19

What To Do When The Fcc Knocks On Your Door . . . . . . . 19

Jello Biafra, Dead Kennedys, Mojo Nixon, Chill Eb & More. 21

Another Argument For Micorpower Broadcasting . . . . . . .22

Ralph Nader On Corporatism And Plutocracy . . . . . . . . 24

Ship Of Dreams, Fcc Destruction Of Boat Station 
Bound For Belize . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26


Supporters of Micropower Broadcasting:

We are enclosing the latest etext version of our May/June newsletter along with a special bulletin. Our FTP site on is in the process of being loaded with lots of info and technical files. The directory is ftp/users/ro/frbspd. By the 10th of May, all of our current designs, board layouts, schematics, etc should be there, please see that these get distributed and used.

Volunteers are needed in a number of areas: technical mentors are needed to help people build their kits and put their stations on the air; since we have been invited to take part in the Lollapalooza tour, we need folks to set up a literature and information table at all of the tour sites; technical design help is needed on further micropower designs in the area of TV units; general organizing in your community around the entire issue of micropower broadcasting, free speech, etc. – conducting public forums and workshops for example; fundraising, expenses are rising with the ever increasing reponse to micropower broadcasting; distribution of informational material, we just printed 5000 copies of an 8 page tabloid newspaper for the May/June newsletter. If you know of bookstores, community centers, etc where these can be distributed, please let us and we mail a packet of 50 or so to you for distribution; legal support – if you know of any attorneys who might be interested in helping out and providing local legal support, we will send them legal documents and briefs to bring them up to speed on this issue; and just the usual suppport and organizational work associated with these sort of endeavors.

If anyone on this distribution list has ordered a kit but has not received it, please let us know. When we first started out with this process last fall, a few orders went astray. Our order process is in pretty good shape right now. Their are some simple modifications that can be made to the 5 watt transmiter which will improve its stability and performance, see the newsletter for the details. One rather wonderful person, Dave Forbes finished out the PLL design and has got it working with the 5 watt transmitter. Board layout will go next week to the shop and should be back the week following. If all goes well, the PLL kit will be going out the first of June.

We have set the filters for around 108 Mhz, this was checked on a rather expensive spectrum analyzer from a friend’s place of work. The second harmonic is knocked down by at least 50 db with this filter on a transmitter running at the low end of the band – 88.1. We will be supplying just this one frequency since it seems to work very well over the entire band. The above mentioned mod to the 5 watt transmitters reduces the harmonic content as well.

If you want to be removed from the distribution list, please let us know.

Thank you very much for your support and patience.

Stephen Dunifer

Doug Forbes

Richard Edmondson

Captain Fred


SF Liberation Radio – Free Speech Stand – Solidarity Needed

Beginning this week, SF Francisco Liberation Radio (93.7 FM) will be on the air, 5 days a week (m-f) from 8 PM to 10 PM from a fixed location. It is their intent to make a free speech challenge to the FCC and the corporate it represents. Some may want to flame them for taking such a risk, please don’t. You have to understand that we are taking the position that what we are doing is legal and protected by the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, International Law and other related law, statutes and so forth. We are also political organizers with a lot experience in challenging the system. Considering the media attention we have received from merely being threatened with fines by the FCC, if they raid SF Liberation Radio and drag people and equipment off, I can guarantee the media response will be rather awesome.

We need your help, solidarity and support to ensure, in the event of raid, that as many people know about this as possible. We are asking you to take the following steps. If this does happen, we will post a press release on this newsgroup within 24 hours of the event. Please take this release and see that it gets distributed to your local media. Add some sort of statement of support and outrage of your own to it. If you can, organize some type of “Free Speech Support” action in front of your local federal building, FCC office or whatever other building in your city or town seems appropriate. We are asking that this action take place on the Saturday following the raid, if it does occur, so they all happen on the same day. Just call up your friends, make some signs with appropriate slogans, tell the the press where it will take place, make up flyers announcing the action and pass them out where they will do the most good. One person should be the media contact person. We will include some tips with the press release on dealing with the media. It is important to be familiar as possible with the issues, please see the current newsletter posted in the news group – Also urge people to call their local FCC office to voice their opinion about this as well.

Thank you very much for any support and solidarity you may put forth



Published by Free Radio Berkeley and the Free Communications Coalition

May/June 1994




voicemail: (510) 464-3041

snailmail: Free Radio Berkeley, 1442 A Walnut St. #406, Berkeley, CA 94709

ftpsite: – directory: ftp/users/ro/frbspd

We welcome any and all submissions for the next newsletter



One of the most defining threads of political. cultural and social history is freedom of expression. In almost any circumstance, the degree of overall freedom present is directly proportional to the degree of strictures placed upon freedom of expression and who controls or maintains the mediums of expression. Whether it was the underground resistance to the Star Chamber or the free speech fights of the Wobblies, the desire to communicate with one’s feelings, ideas, thoughts, etc. has remained undiminished throughout history. Subject to licensure for the first 500 years of its existence, the printing press of Gutenberg’s day has been transmuted into the micropower transmitters of the 1990’s. With an agency, the FCC (Fostering Corporate Control), totally in the grip of media monopolies who number less than 30 but own over 50 percent of the media resources, we have reached an intolerable situation where the peoples’ airwaves have been turned into an instrument of social control engendering crass consumerism, and obescient response to the crudest of political flim-flammery.

An owner of a printing press could have had his or her hand chopped off, or worse, for printing material considered to seditious or critical of the ruling elite. Although micropower broadcasters have not been subject to a similar fate, they are being threatened with huge fines ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 and, in some cases, their entire household has been ransacked by local FCC agents and police. Clearly, free speech and other constitutional rights are under a state of siege. With the current anti-crime hysteria and what passes for “public debate” in the hands of the corporate monopolies and their mouthpieces such as Rush Limbaugh, an aggressive campaign of taking back the airwaves is the only hope of creating democracy in this country. It is our intent and purpose to see thousands of transmitters taking to the air in an all out, no holds barred movement of electronic civil disobedience. When was the last you refereed to as a citizen and not a consumer by the media ?

One has to ask the question, what is the underlying premise behind who has rights to the airwaves which, like so many other natural resources, have been plundered and raped by the corporate interests who desire to line their pockets to the extreme detriment of the planet and all who reside on it ? Why should just a few be allowed to dominate what should be a resource of the many ? It is just the further diminishment of public space and resources which are fenced off and declared private property of the corporate elite. If the power levels were brought down to some reasonably sane limit, like 100-1000 watts on FM for example, many more people and communities could have a voice. Consider the cancer cluster risks alone from having megawatts of RF radiating from vertical antenna farms such as Sutro Tower in San Francisco.

If we are a country founded on democratic principles, with a government created to ensure and guarantee to all the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness why have we reached such an intolerable situation where any reasonable analysis will show the total lack of any democratic process. And why do we meet such fierce resistance when tried to exercise any of these rights, such the right to vote, to speak in public parks, or to receive a just and fair wage ? The question is, should the airwaves be used as a primary means of fostering a democratic, pluralistic, and vibrantly diverse society through a free and open exchange of ideas, news, information, art and culture or should they be a concession stand for narrow, anti-democratic corporate interests working hand in hand with a government whose main goal is domestic pacification, control and the maximization of private profit ? Who does the government really work for, the people or the plutocrats ? Of, by and for the people does not seem be an operative principle at this time.

Spectrum scarcity is largely the fault of the FCC. Take a look at your TV tuner. Notice all those vacant UHF channels. In most areas the UHF band is wide open. Yet, even though low power TV has been created as a legitimate category, the FCC has flatly refused to grant licenses in the 50 major urban areas where there is plenty of room on the UHF band. In 1980 the FCC forced many low wattage (10 watt) , class D FM stations to either increase their power to a minimum of 100 watts and adhere to tighter technical requirements or go off the air. This was done largely at the behest of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (another contradiction in terms), the agent orange of grassroots radio, who had been lobbying the FCC since the early 1970’s as part of their drive to “professionalize community radio. It was the combined hope of both the FCC and the CPB to drive a number of stations off the air. What happened was that everyone scraped their pennies together and increased their power and operating budgets with a net result of crowding the spectrum more than before and having to rely more and more on bringing professional fund-raisers and managers on board to meet the larger budgetary requirements – thus began the slow death of real community radio in this country. Why does the FCC grant 90 mile fringe protection to many giant operators ? As stated above, bring down the power limit to a reasonable level, the broadcasters will scream. Let them, they have had 60 years to make an obscene amount of profit from the peoples’ resource.

We are creating an alternative to the FCC, the Free Communications Coalition – the peoples’ FCC. An umbrella organization which intends on helping ensure good technical standards and support for micropower broadcasting, basing itself on a community and grass roots volunteer model using mediation and open discussion to foster responsible micropower broadcasting. Further, it is working toward the full democratization of all means of communication whether it is electromagnetic space or cyberspace in conjunction with any & all groups or individuals who are working toward this common goal. We would like to see many of these issues addressed and resolved at the community level. We hope to create a talent and resource pool of individuals who can provide the necessary technical expertise whether it be legal, electronic, organizational, etc. to aid in establishing micropower broadcasting as a fully functioning entity whose purpose is to break the stranglehold on the free flow of information, ideas, news, culture and art.


“We own the public airwaves. That’s federal law, approved by the Supreme Court of the United States. We are the owners, we are the landlords. The Federal Communications Commission is our real estate agent. It licenses portions of the spectrum to corporate broadcasting TV and radio stations–they are the tenants.They pay nothing for the rent of a TV station. Some of the greatest fortunes in American history have been made by television and other electronic communication company executives- -tens of millions of dollars–using public property free of charge. The tenant pays the landlord nothing, decides who says what on radio and TV, and laughs all the way to the bank, and because we grow up corporate, we don’t even *think* of challenging it because we never *heard* of it. We never reflected on it. Our courses never *talked* about it. We never majored in it. And therefore, we’re anesthetized. It’s a controlling process.”

– Ralph Nader


I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

— Abraham Lincoln (quoted in Jack London’s “The Iron Heel”).


Over the last few months the response to the whole issue of micropower broadcasting has taken off at an incredible level, the mailing list has doubled since the first of the year. Largely due to a number of rather good articles which have appeared in Mondo 2000, Option and Spin magazines. Micropower broadcasting has been invited to be part of the Lollapalooza tour this year. New designs are being worked to make it as easy as possible for people to reclaim the airwaves.

Unfortunately, this work can not continue without a response of support from you. We hope that you consider micropower broadcasting to be a vital and critical tool to restore some sort of democratic process to the world and break the stranglehold on the free flow of information, news, ideas, art and culture. Several of us have basically put a good portion of our lives on hold to make this happen. If this work is to continue we need not only financial donations but volunteer help as well. Whatever you can do would be most appreciated.



Free Radio Berkeley / Free Communications Coalition

First, we would like to thank everyone for their support of micro power liberation broadcasting and their extreme degree of patience as we get our act together on ramping up for full scale production of kits.

FRB and the Peoples’ FCC invite you to take part in reclaiming the airwaves. This can be done in many ways, it is not necessary for you and your community to put a station on the air if you feel that is too great of a risk. A lot of public education needs to happen around this issue so folks understand that is a matter of free speech, constituitional and human rights. We urge you to consider conducting public forums and presentations on this in your community. Printed materials, videos, etc. can be provided for this type of activity.

Further, if you are technically inclined and would like to provide assistance as a mentor to those whose technical abilities are vastly exceeded by their enthusiasm, we would like to hear from so we can refer folks needing assistance to someone in their area.

If your are good at teaching and presenting technical matters in an understable manner, please consider leading a workhsop in your community. We can supply materials for this including a how to video that is in production.

We need any information on what happening in your community as it regards micro power broadcasting, especially regarding any actions taken by the FCC.

Micro power broadcasting will be part of the Lolapalooza tour this summer. A transmitter will accompying some foks who are part of the tour and we have been invited to have a table at each concert site. If you live anywhere close to the concert sites (most major urban areas) and can volunteer to run an info table, pleaes contact us. We will see that passes are arranged and send you the materials to be distributed along with materials you might wish to add. That would be a good time to organize a local meeting/public forum or workshop on micro power broadcasting and reclaiming the airwaves. All in all, the Lolapalooza tour was attended by 2 million people last year, a great opportunity for outreach.

Let us know if there is any way we can help you, many of us here are rather experienced community activists and organizers. We have legal support available through the National Lawyers Guild and can send legal info to supportive attorneys in your area to bring them up to speed on this issue.

If you can, come to the Bay Area for the weeekend of April 30 and May 1 and the following week. On Saturday, April 30 Food Not Bombs is putting on Soupstock 94 with lots of good bands including MDC, Mudwimmin, Clan Dyken, etc. It will be held at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell near the DeYoung Museum and starts at 12 noon. San Francisco Liberation Radio will be broadcasting it live at 93.7 FM with a possible higher power AM simulcast. On Sunday, May 1 the 25th anniversary of Peoples’ Park will be celebrated with a big party and concert at Peoples’ Park in Berkeley. This event will be broadcast live by Free Radio Berkeley at 88.1 FM. A whole series of workshops on media, computers, broadcasting, etc. will be held that week in both SF and Berkeley. A public forum on micro power broadcasting and radical art will be held on Thursday evening, May 5 at the Capp Street Gallery in SF. A micropower broadcasting workshop will held on Wednesday, May 4 in Berkeley and on Saturday, May 6 at the Capp Street Gallery in SF.

More articles are coming out on mirco power broadcasting. The most recent issue of Option had a very good article. The May issue of Spin will feature an article as well. It is possible that Rolling Stone might be interested in this issue. Hopefully, you can get the local media in your area to do the same.

Richard Edmondson with San Francisco Liberation Radio and Food Not Bombs Radio Network is now producing a weekly show for Radio For Peace International, a shortwave station operating from Costa Rica. It is a half hour show on the best of micro power broadcasting in the US with segments from air tapes of various stations that are currently on the air. If you are on the air send us air tapes so they can be incorporated into the show.

We are setting up to record program materials onto hard disk with a DSP card in one our PCs. These will be compressed with a program from Xing and loaded into our FTP site for distribution. This will begin on May 1. If you are interested in this project, let us know

We have decided to make a major push for next 6 months to create a national movement to take back the airwaves and break the coporate/government stranglehold on the free flow and exchange of ideas, information, news, music, culture and artistic expression. If we do this in an organized, concerted way we can take back the airwaves and show what real democracy is all about. It involves taking risks and a lot of hard work but if worth the effort if one values free speech, human rights, liberty and self determination.

Thanks again.

Stephen Dunifer
Doug Forbes
Richard Edmondson
Keith McHenry
Captain Fred
Universal Radio
and many others who wish to remain unknown at this time


Free Radio Berkeley / Free Communications Coalition
1442 A Walnut St. #406
Berkeley, CA

(510) 464-3041 – voice mail

email –
ftp site: – directory: /ftp/users/ro/frbspd

Send us any program material you might have.



San Francisco Liberation Radio, in a bold move placing free speech on the line, will begin on May 2 broadcasting five nights per week from a fixed location.

“It’s risky,” admittede SFLR’s Richard Edmondson. “If the FCC wants to find us they will be able to do so fairly easily.”

He added, however, that the problems inherent in constantly moving the station from place to place, broadcasting in concealment, setting up and breaking down by flashlight–all were considerations driving him and other SFLR members to make the decision they did.

“At the new location we’ll be powered by electricity rather than batteries, giving our broadcasts more regularity, reliability, and, with the expanded hours, greater listnership,” he said.

The new broadcast schedule, the commencement of which will coincide with SFLR’s first anniversary, will be Mon-Fri from 8-10 pm–if the station survives.

“Our lawyers tell us it’s a very real possibility that we’ll be arrested and that our equipment will be seized,” he said, adding that in such an eveutuality SFLR will call for a demonstration at 5 pm the following day in front of the San Francisco federal building.

“We’re encouraging everyone who values free speech to come out and support us when and if the clampdown comes,” Edmondson said.

The government’s assault on San Francisco Liberation Radio began last year when Edmondson received notice from the FCC that he was being fined $10,000 for an alleged illegal broadcast on the night of Sept. 22. Since then the station has been on the air two nights a week unhindered.

But what begins on May 2 will be a strong departure from the clandestine guerilla broadcasts of before.

“Beginning on May 2 we’ll be more above ground. We’ll even have a live phone line for listners to call into–so that’s how easy it will be for the government to track us down should they want to,” Edmondson said.

“I can’t say enough about how important it is for people to come out in the streets and support us should the government shut down the station. If they’re paying workers in Haiti fourteen cents an hour, how much longer do you think it will be before that’s what they’re paying workers in this country? We have to make a stand now–or we may as well resign ourselves to watching our situation grow more and more desperate with each year that goes by.”

The path being taken by SFLR is actually one that has already been blazed by two Black Liberation stations in the state of Illinois.

“Mbanna Kantako and Napoleon Williams are the real precedent setters here, and we are very inspired by what they have been able to do,” Edmondson said.



Political satire is the weapon of the day–or at least the weapon of choice of the Jolly Roger Comedy Troupe, whose skits can now be heard on Free Radio Berkeley and San Francisco Liberation Radio.

And who are the Troupe’s victims? Anyone from Frank Jordan to the International Olympic Committee.

Imagine Frank Jordan and Jordan top advisor Jim Wunderman clad as hunters and standing on San Francisco city hall balcony taking pot shots at the homeless people on the streets below; or two mundane CBS sportscasters named Hank Hasbeen and Kathy Vapid broadcasting the “Immigrant Bashing Finals” at the winter olympics in Lillehammer.

With the Jolly Roger Comedy Troupe it’s anything goes; no target is sacred.

And what happened when members of the University of California-Berkeley Police Department got caught by video camera watching movies in the campus film library when they were supposed to be out on patrol? Yep, you guessed it. The Troupe’s skit writers got busy and produced “At the Movies with the U.C. Police,” featuring two barely literate cops “reviewing” various current movies, including Geronimo (“another crybaby indian movie from Hollywood”) a la Siskel and Ebert.

And who will be the next target of the Jolly Roger Comedy Troupe? Tune into San Francisco Liberation Radio and Free Radio Berkeley to find out.



(Associated Press) 4/4/94

Chicago Sun Times

The message on the answering machine said, “Power Radio is off the air today because of an occurrence of technical difficulties.”

The technical difficulty that shut down the bootleg FM station in Broadview was a raid by the Federal Communications Commission. Power Radio was operated by a 15-year-old boy with assistance from his father.

Friday’s raid in the Chicago suburb was confirmed by Paul Gromoll, the electronics technician of the FCC’s Midwest enforcement division office.

Pete Sinadinos had shared deejay duty with his dad for 2 1/2 years.

Sindinos and his father, jim, played oldies, dance, country and some heavy metal and featured a popular “stupid hour”.

The station was “just for kids, to keep them off the streets, to keep them off drugs,” Jinm Sinadinos said.

They say they did not know their broadcast, using a 5-watt transmitter bought through a flea market, was illegal.

The Riverside-Brookfield High School freshman said he made no attempt to evade authorities; he broadcast a phone number and post office box over the air.

Gomoll said the FCC shuts down three or four unlicensed radio stations around Chicago each year.

He said no charges have been filed against the Sinadinos.


Well, I finally got up enough courage to post an advertisement for our station. We are by no means a new station, we have been operating every weekend when possible all winter. New spring hours will be much more sporadic. If you are in the Des Moines area, “west-ish on the freeway” on a weekend night, and happen to like alternative music, listen to:

Radio KAOS, Des Moines ONLY Pirate radio station! 95.9Mhz, just one click above KGGO because we are just one click better! 9

6 KAOS, All NAKED, all the time.

Radio KAOS, if you can hear us, you are TOO DAMN CLOSE!

(this is of course an experiment to find out if the FCC actually investigates alleged pirate radio broadcasts, or if they monitor or have agents monitor this newsgroup. If anything happens to our lovely little 12,000mw StereO transmitter, you can be assured that I will let everyone who reads this newsgroup know. Later this summer we will be changing our setup, adding a 200 watt amplifier, 80 ft. tower, and a yagi beam pointing back to DSM!)



by Captain Fred

We came on the air with a “plut plut plut” sound. It was not what I expected to hear. I started to notice things were not functioning properly. For starters, my CD player was spinning in the wrong direction…How could this be happening? The cassette deck kept turning itself off for no apparent reason, and I was starting to get a little panicky. Ralph had the good judgment to grab the marantz PMD 420. It saved the show for us. Finally, there was some music playing in my air monitor. The broadcast microphone was a small dictation tape deck set in “record” mode. The sound was rather tinny but audible. Our broadcast console was a small steel box with a four channel mixer inside. Some of the cables seemed sensitive to touch and would emit a low hum if touched in the wrong way. I found out later that shielding is very important for the audio connections. The control room was the passenger seat in my car and the antenna was a simple “j-pole” attached to an aluminum tripod stand. We played some music, a short interview with Norman Solomon, and a tribute to Orson Welles, with selections from his famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast. There were also shameless plugs for micro-power radio and Free Radio Berkeley. Keeping control of the audio level was a full time job for me, and Ralph fine-tuned the transmitter frequency with a tiny plastic screwdriver. I’m not sure how many people actually heard us that night, since there was no publicity announcing the broadcast. Considering it was a trial run, we were pleased. The sound coming from my walkman was clear and clean! On the next occasion we were better prepared, better cables, we had learned that arranging the equipment the wrong positioning could cause the TX to get a weird hum. Captain Fred had some great headphones and I was very impressed with the sound quality.


Report No. GN-154                                      March 11, 1994
                            GENERAL ACTION


The Commission has denied Andrew R. Yoder’s Application for Review of the $17,500 forfeiture penalty issued by the Field Operations Bureau against him for repeatedly operating a broadcast station without an authorization in violation of Section 301 of the Communications Act.

Commission investigators monitored transmissions from the station which operated under the call sign “Radio USA” from various locations, eventually tracing the transmissions to the home of Mr. Yoder’s parents in Springs, Pennsylvania. Mr. Yoder refused to allow the FCC investigators to inspect his radio station, another violation of Commission Rules.

The station and operator were positively identified by voice and close-in direction-finding techniques. The Commission rejected Mr. Yoder’s arguments that the evidence was insufficient to establish that he was the operator of the station, and that he was not obligated to allow the FCC investigators to inspect his radio station.

Action by the Commission March 10, 1994, by Memorandum Opinion and Order (FCC 94-66). Chairman Hundt, Commissioners Quello and Barrett.


News Media contact: Audrey Spivack at (202) 632-5050; Pamela Hairston, Chief, Legal Branch, Field Operations Bureau, at (202) 632-7059.

Editor’s note:

Why not call these fine folks and express your opinion about this. Autodial hack attack anyone ?



PO Box 109, Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17214 (717) 263-6109


Have you ever been harassed by the government? I have been accused by our Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of operating an unlicensed (pirate) radio station. I am contesting their fine. I believe that I might have been singled out as a result of my notoriety in the pirate listening scene. In fact, the FCC agent who came to my parents’ house told me he read my column every month in one of the newsletters!

I have been fined $17,500– nearly half of which was for not letting an agent in my parents’ house at 3:00 AM who didn’t have a search warrant! More troubling aspects of the fine are that (1) they have no evidence, (2) the fine is 175 times greater than when the pirate WKND was caught in 1990 (WKND was caught a second time and had approximately $100 in equipment confiscated), (3) pirate radio is nonprofit and public service oriented. This fine is on par with being fined $17,500 for being within two blocks of a jaywalking incident.

To start my case, the FCC sent press releases to all of the media outlets in this area and to all of the radio-hobby publications. These press releases announced that I DID (without question) operate a pirate radio station and that these broadcasts could interfere with emergency communications (again, not true). Without a court case, these press releases were slanderous and they also damaged my right to a fair trial (an perhaps even prove myself to be not guilty) because I had already been pronounced guilty by the FCC and by the mass media.

In addition to being fined $7,500 for not letting someone who didn’t have a search warrant into a house that wasn’t mine, I was fined $10,000 for unlicensed operation. The trouble is that this fine is based on commercial radio stations who make thousands of dollars per day. Also, this new fin structure was instituted in April 1992–thus, I was fined under a structure that didn’t exist when my incident occurred! When my incident occurred, the minimum enforcement was a warning or loss of license, the maximum was a $2,500 fine (for a commercial station).

Although the FCC has allowed me to question the legalities of their actions in my case, they have not answered any of my questions or lowered the fine (in spite of the obvious conflicts with our legal system). Yesterday, I received a bill from the FCC stating that I had 30 days to pay them $17,500 or it would be taken up by a debt collection agency. They did not even notify me of my right to a trial or court case! This is not lawful because they have not notified me of my right to due process (and attempted to mislead me) and because they do not have the power to collect fines.

At this point I’m getting desperate. The ACLU won’t represent me because there is a disccepancy as to whether I am guilty or not. After months of playing telephone tag with the National Lawyer’s Guild, I haven’t come up with any assistance. In the meantime, the FCC is behaving much like an agency from some little totalitarian government. They only need to drag me ff to a jail and beat me for a few days to complete the process. At the pace with whitch they are breaking laws, that might just be next.

This case does have an affect on other aspects of radio operations. Of course beating the FCC in this case will cause more pirate radio stations to go on the air (both on FM and shortwave) because the FCC will no longer appear invincible. This could improve the quality of radio programming in communities across the United States. If I lose, on the other hand, it will be a strong case for the FCC to continue to destroy any sort of alternative broadcasting. The FCC’s policy over the past 10 years has been to allow 1 corporation to own more stations than ever (making the mainstream bigger and driving small stations out of buisness) and to raise the minimum power levels of stations (to keep small organizations out of broadcasting). The next step for the FCC might be a major assault on college radio, which has already been damaged. The FCC will only stop when someone else stops them.

What can you do to stop the FCC? Please publicize this case in zines or wherever you can, support radio stations that air programming that you like, and support pirate radio stations. So, if you would like to contact pirate stations for interviews or if you have further questions for me, do not hesitate to write or call!


Andrew Yoder


Micro Power Broadcasting
Technology for the People

What does it take to put a micro power broadcasting operation on the air ? First off, less than $500. A basic 5 watt FM transmitter, output filter (very necessary to reduce output harmonics), 50 ohm coax cable (25-100 ft RG58, Mini8, RG8), antenna and power supply (battery or 12 volt regulated and filtered unit) is going to cost about $150-$175. This is assuming assembly of kit and antenna. Next, a VHF power meter ($30-$40), a dummy load (make from resistors or $19 at Radio Shack) and a frequency counter ($50-150) are needed for tuning and keeping things optimized. Beyond those requirements, one sort of audio source (line level -10 dbm, .3 volts) or another is needed to feed the transmitter. This source can be a walkman type cassette unit, a mixing board, tape deck, etc. Granted, this is not a professional studio but for low budget community operations, it does not take top end gear. Creativity and determination as shown by many community stations can certainly make up the difference. In total, a fully functional station can be put on the air for $500 or less.

Transmitter kits can be obtained from Free Radio Berkeley, contact us for a list of the kits. You need to have some experience in soldering and electronic assembly to do this properly. If you do not have this experience try to find someone who does. A 5 watt transmitter can be assembled in about 4-5 hours. Next you will a need a dummy load for testing and tuning. A power meter and frequency counter (a digitally tune radio will work) will be required as well. After tuning the transmitter to the frequency of choice, (pick a vacant channel) you will be ready to hook it up to an antenna.

A number of antenna designs are provided with the kit, most can be built rather easily with parts obtainable from your local hardware store or as a kit from Free Radio Berkeley. Further you will need a length of 50 ohm coaxial cable to connect the antenna to the transmitter, it needs to have PL259 connectors on both ends, these connect to SO239 sockets – one on the transmitter and the other on the antenna. If you are planning on running mobile, a magnetic mount 1/4 wave whip antenna will work very well. After connecting the antenna to the transmitter, it will need to be tuned. This is covered in the instructions that come with the antenna designs. Once this has been done, you will need to choose a location for the antenna, the higher the better.

If you are working from a fixed location, apartment building or whatever, it is best to disguise the antenna somewhat to throw off the FCC. Several of the antenna designs can be slipped down inside a piece of 6″ or so black plastic pipe so it will look like a stand pipe on the roof. A single occupancy dwelling is the least safe since it is pretty obvious what is going on, a apartment building is better since their are a number of possible locations for the transmitter.

Most of the antenna designs are portable enough to be carried to a high site. Lengths of 1 1/2″ electrical conduit securely joined together will get the antenna 20 feet or so into the air. Many of the antenna designs need to be isolated from the metal mast . The antenna can attached first to a piece of 1 1/2″ plastic pipe which is then clamped to the metal mast with radiator hose clamps of the proper diameter. A four foot piece of 1/2″ pipe driven into the ground with the 1/12″ mast slipped over it will anchor things rather well.

Once your are ready to go on the air, the really hard part starts – creating a programming mix that will attract and build a listening audience. This involves a lot of work, doing street interviews, taping programs, gathering information, etc. Also, you have avoid the FCC. If you are lucky enough to live several hundred miles or more from the nearest field office, then the likelihood of them showing up is somewhat is minimized as long as you do not step on other folk’s frequencies. Be on the lookout for a car or Chevy Suburban type vehicle driving around the neighborhood rather slowly. They have an antenna array buried in a false plastic roof of the vehicle and a whole rack of gear to go with it. Triangulation is a thing of the past.

We would like to find other engineers and technically inclined people to help increase these efforts since we are a rather small design and development operation. Further, we need such technically inclined people to act as advisors and facilitators in the process of helping people build, test, tune, and setup their transmitters and antennas. That way, we can create a pool of people across the country and world who will be available to lend a technical hand to those who wish put micro power broadcasting operations on the air.

Free Radio Berkeley has a lot of information available, please contact us if you would like to receive our newsletter or have any particular needs. The newsletter contains a list of the kits we have currently available. A legal guide on dealing with the FCC is provided as well.

Let a thousand transmitters bloom !

Stephen Dunifer
Free Radio Berkeley / Free Communications Coalition – the People’s FCC
1404 A Walnut St. #406
Berkeley, CA 94709

voice mail: (510) 464-3041



First, a word from our legal department:

For educational purposes only. These kits are offered for the furtherance of one’s knowledge regarding radio frequency design and principles. At all times during operation the assembled unit must be connected to a dummy load. Part 15 of the FCC rules prohibits an antenna being used with these units. All responsibilities for the ultimate use of these kits are born solely by the builder and/or operator.


All kits are complete and come with professionally manufactured, drilled and tinned PC boards. All coils are pre-wound. Each unit, unless specified, requires 12 volts for proper operation. Full instructions and diagrams included. Required tools include a 25-30 watt soldering iron with a fine tip, diagonal cutters, needle nose pliers, assorted screwdrivers and other small hand tools. Full assembly diagrams and instructions are included with each kit. Antenna construction diagrams are provided with each transmitter or amplifier order.

Certain kits are designed to work with each other. For those whose wish to boost the output of their Ramsey FM-10 the 1/2-1 watt amp will work very well for this purpose. The 30 watt amp is designed to be driven by 3-5 watts and works extremely well with the 5 watt transmitter. The 15 watt amplifier is designed to be driven to full power with about 1/2 watt of input power, hence it works very well with the 1/2 watt stereo transmitter. If you wish to only boost a 1/2 watt signal to 5-7 watts then choose the 6 watt amplifier kit. An amplifier only increases the output power of a given input signal, it can not produce an FM signal whereas a transmitter or an exciter creates the FM signal at a suitable power level for possible further amplification by an RF amplifier.

5 Watt FM Transmitter – $55

An improved version of the Panaxis 5 watt design with a much more rugged output transistor capable of producing 5-6 watts. This is a very good basic unit that is very compact, fits into a 4 x 6 inch enclosure (available punched and drilled). Frequency stability is maintained by a well designed oscillator section. It is a mono unit that accepts line level input (i.e. an audio signal from a tape deck, mixer, etc.). A fine frequency adjustment control allows for easy adjustment of operating frequency. To increase power of this transmitter use the 30 watt amplifier. Both will fit into a 7 x 7 inch enclosure (available punched and drilled). Requires 12 to 14 volts DC at 3/4 to 1 amp for operation.

6 watt RF Amplifier – $30

Uses the same output transistor as above. It is designed to boost low wattage transmitters to a bit higher output power and will produce up to 8 watts of output power. A very small and compact circuit measuring 3 x 1 1/2 inches for 1/2 watt input drive. Easy, quick assembly. Requires 12-14 volts DC at 3/4 to 1 amp for operation.

15 watt RF Amplifier – $50

Uses a very high gain (14dB, power gain of at least 25X) RF transistor to boost a 1/2 watt input to 15 watts. Perfect for boosting the 1/2 stereo transmitter to 15 watts. Measures 2 1/2 by 5 inches and fits into a 4 x 6 enclosure (available punched and drilled). Includes heat sink. Easy, point to point surface mount assembly. Requires 12-14 volts at 2 amps for operation.

20 -24 watt RF amplifier – $95

$95 might sound a bit steep, but for those who do not wish to do an extensive amount of soldering and tuning, this is kit is for you. It uses a broad band high gain, RF power module which will put out a 20-24 watt signal for only a 100 to 200 miliwatt input. Kit requires less than 20 solder connections to complete, including a 5 element filter. Since the module is broad band from 88 to 108 MHz no tuning is required, plug and play as they say. Requires 12-14 volts at 3 to 4 amps.

25-30 watt RF Amplifier – $60

Will produce full power with an input drive of 3-5 watts. This unit works very well with the 5 watt transmitter kit. In fact, next to the 5 watt kit, it is our most popular item. Fits a 4 x 6 inch enclosure (available punched and drilled). Easy point to point surface mount assembly. Includes heat sink. Requires 12-14 volts DC at 4-5 amps for operation.

1/2 to 1 watt Amplifier – $25

1/2 to 1 watt output for an input power of 10 mw. Great for boosting lower power VFOs and low power Ramsey FM-10 type kits. Very compact size, 3 1/2 X 1 1/2 inches. An optional transistor can be substituted to take the power up to 1 1/2 watts, add $5 for this option.

Output Filter Kit – $8.00

A seven element low pass filter, composed of 4 coils and 3 capacitors, to flatten those harmonics. Specify cutoff frequency desired, 94 MHz, 100 MHz, 104 MHz, 108 MHz. The cutoff should be about 2 to 4 MHz above the frequency the transmitter is set for. Please use a filter on any transmitter you to use to avoid possible interference with other services.

15 Watt Dummy Load Kit – $10.00

Essential for tuning up and testing transmitters and amplifiers. Will handle 15 watts without any strain, higher powers for a briefer period of time (i.e. shut down when it gets rather hot). Presents a uniform 50 ohm impedance to the transmitter.

25 Watt Dummy Load Kit – $20

As above, use this with the 30 watt kit for testing and loading purposes. Uses a single, film non-inductive resistor

50 Watt Dummy Load Kit – $35

Same design as the 25 watt unit, use this if you plan on running the 30 watt unit for an extended period of time with a dummy load.

100 Watt Dummy Load Kit – $50

Same design as the 25 & 50 watt units. Uses 2 film resistors.

1/2 – 1 watt Stereo Broadcast Transmitter – $50

A vast improvement over the Ramsey FM-10. It uses the BA1404 IC as a stereo modulator only to modulate a FET vfo, buffer and amp chain. Better audio input filtering and bypassing. IC voltage regulation for the 2.5 volt supply for the BA1404. A very rugged output stage and collector voltage bypassing make this unit stand out from all other transmitter designs using the BA1404 chip. Requires 12 volts DC

Stereo Generator Only – $30

Actually 1/2 of the above the stereo transmitter, will allow one to broadcast in stereo using the 5 watt transmitter with a very minor modification.


75 Watt Amplifier – $165

Requires 28 volts DC (two car batteries in series or 28 volt DC power supply). Point to point surface mount construction. Easy assembly, includes heat sink. Amplifier measures 6 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Only 5 watts input power needed to drive to full power.

125 Watt Amplifier – $200

Requires 28 volts DC (two car batteries in series or 28 volt DC power supply). Point to point surface mount construction. Easy assembly, includes heat sink. Amplifier measures 6 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches. Use a power FET RF transistor that requires only 3-5 watts of input power for 125 watts output.


These are partial kits, just go to your local plumbing supply or hardware store for the copper pipe and/or wire needed for completion. Full construction diagrams and instructions included.

J-Pole – $20

Metal box drilled with SO239 connector, tuning cap and tubing clamps. This one is know as the “electricians special” since it uses mostly electric hardware in its construction. Works very well for urban areas. No soldering of copper pipe required for assembly. Can be adjusted for operation over the entire FM band.

Slim Jim – $15

SO239 connector and clamps. Works very well for urban areas where a powerful horizontal pattern is needed. If used at too great of height, an area surrounding the antenna will be skipped over due to its low angle of radiation. Even at a height of only about 12 feet mounted on a traffic sign pole this antenna was able send a 5 watt signal 2-3 miles. Requires soldering of copper pipe. Can be placed inside a 6″ piece of black plastic pipe for concealment. Provides a gain of 2-3.

Dipole – $20

Plastic box, SO239 and clamps. Easy and quick design. Can be concealed by placing inside a 4″ piece of black plastic pipe.

5/8 Ground Plane – $30

All necessary parts except copper element and ground radials. This is a great design and works extremely well. It is very portable and will boost the power by a factor of 2 to 4.


Unless you are planning on operating from a 12 volt lead acid battery or from the lighter socket in a vehicle you will need an AC operated DC power supply. Wall adapter units can not used. We have the following units available.

2.5 Amp 13.8 V DC power supply – $29

Use this to power either the 1/2 watt transmitter or 5 watt transmitter or the 1/2 watt stereo unit in combination with the 6 watt amplifier.

4.5 Amp 13.8 V DC power – $39

Use this to power the stereo transmitter in combination with the 15 watt amplifier.

12 Amp 13.8 V DC power supply – $65

Use this to power the 5 watt transmitter in combination with the 30 watt amplifier


Power & SWR Meters

These are essential to the proper tuning and setting up of both transmitters and antennas. An antenna has to be fine tuned so that it accepts the full power of the transmitter and reflects the lowest amount possible back, that ratio of forward power to reflected power is know as the standing wave ratio (SWR). The various stages of both transmitters and amplifiers have adjustable capacitors which are used to tune the unit to the frequency of operation. A power meter allows you to see the effect of these adjustments on the power level and to set everything at an optimum level.

Economy Power/SWR meter – $35

A compact in-line unit that works up to a frequency range of 150 MHz.

High Quality Daiwa Meter – $100

A dual cross needle meter that shows both forward and reflected power on the same meter face. Makes tuning up very easy, no need to switch back and forth between these two functions. Compact design with 12 volt connection for lighting the meter face.


To accurately maintain your operating frequency a digital frequency counter is highly recommended. A digital tuner with signal strength indication can be used as a substitute. We have a frequency counter available for $80.00


A coaxial cable is a special type of wiring that has an inner conductor surrounded by an insulating plastic sheath which is covered by a braid of copper wire that is then covered by a plastic jacket. The 75 ohm video cable used in home TV applications is one type of coaxial cable. For most RF purposes, 50 ohm cable is used. Quite a number of 50 ohm coaxial cables are available ranging from the rather small to cables over 1″ in diameter. Regardless of the type, all such cables exhibit a loss that increases with frequency of operation and the length of the cable. For most purposes we will concern ourselves with RG8 and RG8x (mini version of RG8). In very short runs RG58 can be used, but we prefer RG8x due to its lower loss and ability to stand a bit more abuse. RG8 has the lowest loss of the group. Under no circumstances should the cables be twisted, kinked or crushed, this will cause major problems. We supply both RG8X and RG8 in the following lengths. Each end is terminated with a PL259 plug.

RG8X: 25 feet – $15, 50 feet – $25, 75 feet- $35, 100 feet – $40

RG8: 50 feet – $32, 75 feet – $42, 100 feet – $52


4 x 6 aluminum chassis punched and drilled for 5 watt xmtr, 15 watt amplifier or 30 watt amplifier – $18

7 x 7 aluminum chassis punched and drilled for 1/2 watt stereo xmtr or 5 & 30 combo. – $25


Tweak stick – $2.50

Essential to tuning transmitters and amplifiers. Non-conductive body with tiny metal blade at end. In tuning these transmitters and amplifiers a metal screwdriver will cause false tuning to happen due to the interactive effects of the metal with the circuit. A plastic TV tuning tool kit can be found at Radio Shack as well.


Phase Lock Loop Controller for 1/2 watt stereo transmitter and 5 watt transmitter

Phase Lock 1 watt exciter/transmitter

Stereo Audio Processor & Mixer

A combined stereo generator, limiter and audio mixer

2-4 Watt AM & SW Transmitter kit with companion 25-50 watt amplifier kit

2-3 watt UHF TV transmitter kit with 15 & 50 watt amplifier kits

If you have any other particular requirements please let us know. Custom design and fabrication services are available including PC layout and production. Full CAD services as well.

Proceeds from the sales of these kits go to the furtherance of micro power broadcasting, bringing a voice of empowerment to every community.

Please add $3.00 for handling and shipping for each kit. $5.00 for the 2.5 & 4.5 amp power supply and $10.00 for the 12 amp power supply. Add $2.00 for 2nd day mail service for each kit.

Payment to be made out to Free Radio Berkeley

Free Radio Berkeley
1442 A Walnut St., #406
Berkeley, CA 94709

Voice mail: (510) 464-3041

Net mail:



Our designs are not static, we are always trying to improve performance and stability. In that vein, we have made some improvements to the 5 watt transmitter design. It is a rather simple modification. A ferrite bead is slipped over the base end lead of the 1K resistor (R11) from Q2 (2n4427) to ground and similarly a ferrite bead is slipped over the base end lead of the 56 ohm resistor (R13) from Q3 (2SC1971) to ground. A third ferrite bead is slipped over the 12 volt end of the 100 ohm resistor (R12) connected between 12 volts and the zener diode. Finally, C12’s trace lead to the coil L5 is cut and is jumpered to the RF out pad. Send us $1.00 along with a SASE and we will mail you the ferrite beads and complete instructions on how to make these modifications. ———————————————————————————————–


Reversing the voltage leads is all too easy to do, most of us have done it at least once with the result being several fried transistors. With RF power transistors costing $5-$150 it can be a rather expensive mistake. One simple way to protect your units from this possibility is to put in voltage polarity reversal protection circuit, see diagram below. It works on the principle that a diode only lets current flow in one direction. With correct voltage polarities the diode does not conduct the positive voltage to ground. However, if the ground lead is hooked to the positive voltage jack of the unit and and the positive lead is hooked to negative jack of the unit, the diode intermediately conducts the voltage to ground creating a short which blows the fuse thereby protecting the transmitter from harm. We are offering this protection set up as a kit for $4.00 ( + $2.00 P & H), it includes 2 fuses, a fuse holder and a diode along with full instructions. These parts are also available at most electronics stores.



Produced by the Committee on Democratic Communications — A National Committee of the National Lawyers Guild

Address: Committee on Democratic Communications, One Sansome St., Ste. 900, San Francisco, CA, 94104, (415) 705-6464.

NOTE: The following discussion assumes that you are not a licensed broadcaster.

Q) If FCC agents knock on my door and say they want to talk with me, do I have to answer their questions?

A: No. You have a right to say that you want a lawyer present when and if you speak with them, and that if they will give you their names, you will be back in touch with them. Unless you have been licensed to broadcast, the FCC has no right to “inspect” your home.

Q) If they say they have a right to enter my house without a warrant to see if I have broadcasting equipment, do I have to let them in?

A: No. Under Section 303(n) of Title 47 U.S.C., the FCC has a right to inspect any transmitting devices that must be licensed under the Act. Nonetheless, they must have permission to enter your home, or some other basis for entering beyond their mere supervisorial powers. With proper notice, they do have a right to inspect your communications devices. If they have given you notice of a pending investigation, contact a lawyer immediately.

Q) If they have evidence that I am “illegally” broadcasting from my home, can they enter anyway, even without a warrant or without my permission?

A: They will have to go to court to obtain a warrant to enter your home. But, if they have probable cause to believe you are currently engaging in illegal activities of any sort, they, with the assistance of the local police, can enter your home without a warrant to prevent those activities from continuing. Basically, they need either a warrant, or probable cause to believe a crime is going on at the time they are entering your home.

Q) If I do not cooperate with their investigation, and they threaten to arrest me, or have me arrested, should I cooperate with them?

A: If they have a legal basis for arresting you, it is very likely that they will prosecute you regardless of what you say. Therefore, what you say will only assist them in making a stronger case against you. Do not speak to them without a lawyer there.

Q) If they have an arrest or a search warrant, should I let them in my house?

A: Yes. Give them your name and address, and tell them that you want to have your lawyer contacted immediately before you answer any more questions. If you are arrested, you have a right to make several telephone calls within 3 hours of booking.

Q) Other than an FCC fine for engaging in illegal transmissions, what other risks do I take in engaging in micro-radio broadcasts.

A: Section 501 of the Act provides that violations of the Act can result in the imposition of a $10,000 fine or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both. A second conviction results in a potentially longer sentence. If you are prosecuted under this section of the Act, and you are indigent (unable to hire an attorney), the court will have to appoint one for you.

Q) Are there any other penalties that can be imposed upon me for “illegal broadcasts.”

A: Under Section 510 of the Act, the FCC can attempt to have your communicating equipment seized and forfeited for violation of the requirements set forth in the Act. Once again, if they attempt to do this, you will be given notice of action against you, and have an opportunity to appear in court to fight the FCC’s proposed action. Realize, though, that they will try to keep your equipment and any other property they can justify retaining until the proceedings are completed. You have a right to seek return of your property from the court at any time.

Q) If the FCC agents ask me if I knew I was engaged in illegal activities, should I deny any knowledge of FCC laws or any illegal activities?

A: No. You will have plenty of time to answer their accusations after you have spoken with an attorney. It is a separate crime to lie to law enforcement officials about material facts. Remain silent.

Q) If I am considering broadcasting over micro-radio, is there anything I can do ahead of time to minimize the likelihood of prosecution?

A: Yes. Speak with an attorney before you are approached by law enforcement to discuss the different aspects of FCC law. Arrange ahead of time for someone to represent you when and if the situation arises, so that you will already have prepared a strategy of defense.

Q) What can I do if the FCC agents try to harass me by going to my landlord, or some other source to apply pressure on me?

A: So long as there is no proof that you have violated the law, you cannot be prosecuted or evicted. If there is evidence of misconduct, you might have to defend yourself in court. Depending upon what the FCC said or did, you might be able to raise a defense involving selective prosecution or other equivalent argument. If the conduct of the agents is clearly harassment, rather than a proper investigation, you can file a complaint with the F.C.C. or possibly a civil action against them.

Q) If I want to legally pursue FCC licensing for a new FM station, what should I do?

A: It isn’t the purpose of this Q and A sheet to advocate or discourage non-licensed broadcast operations. A person cited by the FCC for illegal broadcasting will find it virtually impossible to later obtain permission to get a license. If you want to pursue the licensing procedure, see the procedures set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, Part 73. The application form (Form # 301 A) is extremely complicated, and requires a filing fee of $2,030.00. If you want to contact the FCC directly, call them at their Consumer Assistance and Small Business Division, Room 254, 1919 N St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20554, tel (202) 632-7260. Don’t bother to try this without significant financial backing.



As both a bit of fundraiser and an attempt to put more dissident voices on the air, we are selling CD’s of these and other performers. Thanks to the PMRC and other “decent christian citizens” many of you might not be able to obtain these recordings at your local record store. If you are familiar with Mordam Records, we have their entire line available, they feature hard core, grunge etc. on such labels as Allied Recordings, Alternative Tentacles, Flipside, Lookout, Seeland, Vinyl Communications and more. A complete listing will be available soon, please send a SASE for this.

Dead Kennedys - 	In God We Trust
			Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
			Plastic Surgery Diasters
			Bedtime for Democracy
			Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

Jello Biafra -		No More Cocoons  - double CD
			High Priest of Harmful Matter - double CD
			I Blow Minds for a Living - double CD

Virus 100 -		A Cover Release of Dead Kennedys songs with Didjits
			L7, Disposable Heros and more, 16 in all

Jello Biafra & - 	Prairie Home Invasion
Mojo Nixon

Chill EB -		Born Suspicious

Cost for the CD’s is $11, doubles are $13 – add $2 per CD for shipping and handling




We received this email communication from a person on the net:


Having nearly completed a million-dollar AM project as technical chief, where many people have put their talents, effort, and money on the line, I cannot begin to tell you how insignificant and worthless this “micro-power” stuff seems. Commitment and dedication is something I routinely see in our local family-owned professional broadcasting organizations–not in a bunch of kids that want to play radio on a whim.

When one of your gang puts seven figures on the line to build a four-tower AM, with the full knowledge that it could all be money down the drain, then you might get my attention. Putting a 10-watt splattermaster on the air is something I did when I was eight years old. Not impressed.

Stephen Dunifer wrote in response ( denoted by >):

> Thank you for the wonderful note, in fact, it was so perfect we
>are going publish in our next newsletter under the headline of “Another
>Argument for Micro Power Broadcasting”. Your letter clearly points out
>the prohibitive cost of the current broadcasting situation. Why indeed
>should someone risk millions of dollars and hours upon hours of blood,
>sweat and tears on something that might be down the drain the next
>day when a low power micro operation can be put on the air for less than

I can give you a few reasons. First, the coverage will be such that more than just a few people will be able to hear it. Ten watts of FM from a few feet in the air has a distressingly limited range. Second, this new plant will probably outlive me by decades. People who are in the real business go into these things for the long haul, not the year or maybe two-year attention span of all the “community radio” projects that I have ever seen. (KKUP is an exception–and for some very interesting reasons.) Third, radio is a mass-market, mass-audience medium. It takes a lot of effort and money to produce something that large numbers of people will listen to. Your teapots suffer a double whammy: they are technically limited and the programming is probably a severe tune-out. If activism was something people craved hearing, KPFA would need larger wheelbarrows to carry subscriptions to the bank.

Maybe you can put a micro on the air for $1000, but I’ll bet some of my stations’ costs per listener are lower.

> I agree that many operations have been using equipment of rather
>dubious quality. We are trying to bring a level of quality to this area
>which has not existed before. As a 42 year old engineer who obtained his
>first class commercial ticket at 17 years of age, has spent over 20 years
>as an analog and digital circuit designer and computer systems
>integrator, I am designing circuits that are inexpensive to build and do
>not do the all nasty things associated usually with “garage operations”.

Very impressive. And just how many of these dozens or even hundreds of micro operators will have those credentials? How many of them will have the slightest clue concerning modulation levels, spurs, harmonics, frequency stability, or any of the other things that can influence the cacophony of signals in the air?

>Again, I would like to thank you for your wonderful note and let
>you know we are hard at work trying to restore democracy and free speech
>to the United Corporate States of America. Please send us your address
>and you will receive the next copy of our newsletter with your letter in it.

By all means, send it. I, too, had the answers to all the world’s problems before I was 21. I, too, had the transcendental truth that the world needed to hear. But the older I got, the less I seemed to know and my omniscience appears less and less viable. I am older than you, and as a result am, of course, totally senile. By the time I was even your age, I had relinquished my grasp on the sum total of enlightened knowledge and wisdom.

Besides in my day, we activist types got licenses for our stations such as KRAB, KBOO, KTAO and the like. Why do I get the feeling that if the FCC legalized micro that the whole “movement” would die out overnight?


Micropower broadcasters now have the chance to have their programs heard by an international audience via the airwaves of Radio for Peace International, a shortwave station in Costa Rica whose signal is received in more than sixty countries worldwide.

In March RFPI began airing a weekly half hour program entitled “Micro- power Radio in the U.S.”

“We originally conceived of it as a sort of ‘best-of’ program, taking material from different micropower stations from around the country,” said Richard Edmondson, of San Francisco Liberation Radio, the show’s producer. “The only requirement we had was that the station had to be unlicensed by the FCC.”

So far the program has featured broadcast excerpts from Free Radio Berkeley, Anarchy Radio, Radio Free Detroit, and San Francisco Liberation Radio.

“We are constantly in search of new material and would encourage micropower broadcasters from around the U.S. to send us tapes of their best shows,” Edmondson said.

He added that RFPI’s range was illustrated recently by correspondence received by a listener in Japan.

“We got a letter from a guy in Japan who not only wrote to say he had heard our program, but actually sent us a tape showing us what it sounded like on an actual short wave set in Japan–very scratchy but you could definitely tell it was us.”

Within the last week several more responses have been received from listeners in the United States. Tune your shortwave receiver to 15.03 (24hrs.), 7.375 (0000-1200), 7.385 USB (0000-1400), 21.465 USB (1200-0400). Saturdays at 2300 hours UTC is the slot for the Micropower show and the Food Not Bombs Radio Network.



Excerpts from a speech given at Harvard University

. . . “plutocratic power” . . . is really the singular index of what has been going on, decade after decade, in this country.
. . . those people who have civic power accorded them–freedom to vote, freedom to speech–if they do not *use* the authority that they are empowered to use in a constant, daily, diverse manner, power tends to concentrate itself and before you know it, you have a plutocracy that uses the symbols of government, and the symbols of democracy, to regale itself and to achieve legitimacy.
Now, the avaricious triumph and spreading tragedy of corporatism *should* be the singular, most important issue in the presidential campaign

When we’re talking about plutocracy, what are we talking about? Here’s an example of plutocracy: corporate socialism. That is, corporations who get in trouble if they’re important enough or big enough, do not go bankrupt, they go to Washington. They are then subject to a process known as corporate welfare–entitlements–where their bankruptcy, mismanagement, speculation or corporate crime generates losses which are socialized on the backs of the taxpayer.

This corporate socialism and corporate welfare is booming. In fact most of what Washington does is conduct a bazaar of “Accounts Receivables” for corporate requestors. There are dozens and dozens of corporate welfare projects that we can conveniently call “aid to dependent corporations.” Now look what this does.

First of all it reduces corporations incentive to work, productively. Because they know they’re going to be bailed out. They know that there are a certain number of banks in this country which are too big to fail and the federal reserve had them on the list: Citicorp, Bank of America, Chase Manhattan, Morgan Guarantee, Chemical, etc. In other words, they were too critical to avoiding a domino affect and they would be bailed out. . . .

I mentioned plutocratic power versus democratic power . . . plutocratic power exercises its will on us everyday. . . .

The plutocracy takes control of what we own. This must be a hot topic and the Kennedy school. Look at what we own: we own, as a commonwealth, the public airwaves, the public lands, three trillion dollars of public and private pension money, a trillion dollars of savings, a half a trillion dollars at least of mutual insurance monies–all these we technically, legally own. Some as a commonwealth, some as *pooled* assets. Can you imagine how our political economy would be different, how our standards of living would be different, if we *controlled* what we legally owned? And that is *never* discussed in any political campaign that I have been aware of in the last several decades. Can you imagine anything more fundamental to discuss than the incidence of popular and commonwealth ownership of assets?

Here’s how it goes: we grow up corporate. By growing up corporate, we never even *think* of what we own. We never even *think* of what is the commonwealth. We are told to “go for it” individually and make a pile of money. And because we’re growing up corporate, our minds are anesthetized so they can be controlled by the corporate ethos. Such a thesis is so easily proven that it’s not worth spending much time on other than to give one example: who is raising our children today? Ask parents who’s raising the children. Children are raised by those environments in which they spend most of their time.

Children today spend less time with adults, including their parents, than any children in *history*. They are spending, pre- teen, thirty-five hours a week on the average, watching TV, video games, and in between, walkman audios. So for thirty-five hours a week they are Pavlovian specimens. They are not engaging in human conversation. They are not interacting with their their siblings and their parents, except modest squabbles during ad time perhaps. They are watching programs that convey basically three themes relentlessly. Look at Saturday and Sunday morning TV if you doubt that.

Now when you grow up corporate like that do you develop a critical mind? Do you develop a civic spirit? Do you understand what community is? Do you ever thirst for *feedback*? For talking *back* to the TV set, in front of you. Never occurs to people to even ask for an electronic Letters-to-the-Editor time on TV.

And what is TV? It’s ninety percent entertainment–including ads–, ten percent redundant news, zero percent mobilization. But it is our property. We own the public airwaves. That’s federal law, approved by the Supreme Court of the United States. We are the owners, we are the landlords. The Federal Communications Commission is our real estate agent. It licenses portions of the spectrum to corporate broadcasting TV and radio stations–they are the tenants. They pay nothing for the rent of a TV station.

Some of the greatest fortunes in American history have been made by television and other electronic communication company executives- -tens of millions of dollars–using public property free of charge. The tenant pays the landlord nothing, decides who says what on radio and TV, and laughs all the way to the bank, and because we grow up corporate, we don’t even *think* of challenging it because we never *heard* of it. We never reflected on it. Our courses never *talked* about it. We never majored in it. And therefore, we’re anesthetized. It’s a controlling process.

The challenge in our country, in getting democracy upgraded to override plutocracy, is not the challenge that is contained in Orwell’s “1984,” it’s the challenge that is contained in Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

To give you an illustration. Two hundred years ago we got free speech–first amendment–ratified. That meant that a big merchant in Boston and a worker in Boston could get up on a soapbox on the Boston Commons and tell it the way it is. Who could hear? As many people as wanted to congregate, and as powerful as the speaker’s voice could be. Two hundred years later, a worker can get up on the soapbox in the Boston Commons and say his or her pitch. But the big merchant can buy television time and reach millions of people. There is a decibel level quality to the exercise of our first amendment rights due to new technology.

What is the tool? The tool is to recognize that we own the public airwaves. We’re entitled to have our own network, let’s call it the audience network. It could be chartered for legal purposes as a non-profit federal corporation (chartered by Congress the way the Red Cross and the Salvation Army is). It would be a private-sector corporation, chartered by Congress, open to any viewers and listeners, and the asset which would be returned to it would be one- hour of prime time TV and drive-time radio. Therefore we will become part of a communications commonwealth that will let us develop our electronic literacy, and let us put on television what we want to put on through a deliberative process that reflects great diversity among its membership, which is voluntary, from entertainment to politics to science to mobilization of the community. Doesn’t cost the taxpayer a cent, voluntary to the viewers and listeners, and it’s our property being returned.

Now if we had that, and if we had a cable viewer’s group–because cable is a monopoly and there’s a reciprocity that should be accorded monopolies, and one of them should be the presentation of the cable viewer’s address and telephone number and description at least ten times a day on all cable channels so the cable viewers can voluntarily band together and organize and have their own staff and begin feeding back the kind of programming they want.



It was a ship full of dreams. Dreams of broadcasting on international shortwave. Dreams of sending hopeful messages from many people transmitted over the air.

The Voyager Broadcast project was the hope and dream of many. Financed by a man of God, Brother Stair of the Overcomer Ministry, the station was to be an outlet for religious programming and the right of free speech.

The Voyager ship was a converted fishing trawler 140 feet long by 30 feet wide. She was planned to be fitted out with four shortwave transmitters, and was in the process of repair and restoration in Charleston harbor South Carolina.

The ship was to set sail in early February for southern waters where she was to broadcast from a safe anchorage in Belize territory. (The Country of Belize is located on the Yucatan peninsula in central america about 600 miles south of the United States.) It was not to be so. On January 19, 1994 at 8:30 AM EST, The Federal Communications Commission aided by U.S. Federal marshals and the U.S. Coast Guard, sized the M.V. FURY and almost immediately began to debowel her of all her radio equipment.

One day later it was all gone. Transmitters, tubes, parts, test equipment, personal stereos, transformers, cable, insulators, tape recorders, CD’s, antennas, towers, cassette machines, all the stuff that make up a radio station–gone! No arrests, no hearings, nothing! The reason? The FCC claims to have identified transmissions from 12:10 AM EST to 3:21 AM EST on January 14, 1994 which they claim were pinpointed to the location of the ship. I was on board the vessel at the time an I observed no such transmissions between those times and none were technically possible with the existing equipment.

I built the radio station on board the FURY for the Overcomer Ministry. As the engineer, I advised the owners of the ship to secure all legal registry and ships radio licenses. This was done; I insured everything was to be done by the book. The FURY was issued a ship registration and radio station license that would make it entirely legal to broadcast once the vessel arrived in Belize territory.

At Charleston harbor no broadcasts came out of the FURY while I was on duty. In fact only two of her four transmitters were partially restored. Of these two only one could be applied primary filiment power. None of the transmitters were ready to broadcast–period! Furthermore there was no available source of transmitter power.

Both transmitter generators were down for final installation and repairs. The main generator was inoperative due to a fuel leak and the backup generator had a burned out regulator.

So the question remains, why was an entirely legal radio station destroyed without a hearing and due process? What is going on here? Does the FCC possess such fear that they will disregard all assemblage of personal rights, international law, and due process?

As a radio engineer it pains me to see such wanton destruction of personal property for no reason. The Overcomer Ministry had invested large sums of money and time to make this floating radio ship of GOD and freedom a reality. All to be destroyed because someone in Washington D.C. apparently doesn’t like Brother Stair or me.

Dear reader, I think now is the time to take a “hard look” at the Federal Communications Commission and their policies of total disregard of law and due process; especially the so called seizure laws in which they legally “steal” personal property.

Is this a nation of laws or government brytes? I thought a fair hearing and trial is guaranteed all.

The ship owners plan to seek restitution from the government. Many questions remain.

A radio station, a printing press of the air, has been smashed. Please protest this illegal action by the FCC to your Congressperson. Only Congress can stop the madness.

Allan H. Weiner
Radio Engineer
507 Violet Avenue
Hyde Park, NY 12538