LPFM Day at FCC Confirmed; A Cocky Monkey

LPFM Day is February 8 at FCC headquarters. The event is akin to a “mini trade show,” a chance for advocates of low power radio to show off the technology and talk up its benefits to FCC staffers. The Prometheus Radio Project is organizing a mini-conference on LPFM for the day before. It is even rumored that Mikey Powell may grace the event with his presence – the least he can do for failing to accomplish anything substantive as far as advancing the rollout of LPFM stations.
SF Weekly has a new feature on Pirate Cat Radio. Since 1997 this “punk as fuck” station has, according to its founder, “Monkey,” received more than 120 warning notices from the FCC while operating unmolested in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles. So far it’s been on in the Bay area for some two years and nary a peep from the FCC. Telling tall tales? Consider this: he blames the October 2003 raid of San Francisco Liberation Radio on interference SFLR caused to Oakland International Airport – yet he chuckles about complaints from neighbors when Pirate Cat messes up TV reception, and it hindered reception of at least one Los Angeles station during its run there. Continue reading “LPFM Day at FCC Confirmed; A Cocky Monkey”

Like Food Stuck In Teeth

How to break news to a friend that they’re looking a bit uncouth? It’s not easy.
Recently I stumbled across the web site of a group called the National Association of Microbroadcasters. This sort of idea’s been tried before but, given the nature of the free radio movement in the United States, such groups have never lasted very long (and the few still in existence are very low-key). Not so the NAMB: boasting more than 40 “member stations,” “covering 194,000 [square] miles,” this is quite a boost from the blue, if true.
Further exploration of the site, however, tempered my enthusiasm. Specifically, the link off the front page labeled, “What is The Law?” This takes you to a page with eight links on it. Some of them are pretty benign, like links to the Communications Act of 1934 and various pieces of U.S. Code applicable to the FCC. Sprinkled in are links to dubious legal memoranda whose basic gist is that the FCC does not have the jurisdiction to license stations that do not broadcast over state lines. One link here even includes a scanned image of a letter one Eric Johnson of Everett, WA received from a functionary at the FCC: it claims that “intra-state radio communications may be regulated by individual states, and I would recommend contacting your State Utility Commission for further information.” Continue reading “Like Food Stuck In Teeth”

Making Waves Update; FCC in MN

Michael Lahey’s been getting around: his killer microradio documentary will get more screenings around the country next year, one of which will be in April at the Anthology Film Archives in NYC. Also, a professor from the UK recently contacted Michael about using Making Waves as part of an exercise/discussion in a new textbook on alternative media.
Earlier this month Michael also was a special guest on The Power Hour, a talk show carried on the Genesis Communications Network. Not only did Michael get two hours to plug the film and talk about the issues behind it, but they also opened the phone lines. That’s where things got interesting: Continue reading “Making Waves Update; FCC in MN”

Denver Free Radio Packs It In

Sad news from the mile-high city: KCTS Radio, after a short but spirited game of cat-and-mouse with the FCC, has decided to retire the operation. From a communiqué first e-mailed (now available on the station’s web site), station spoke Carl Nimbus answers, in detail, the question, “So what happened to ‘we’re just going to keep coming back’?”
The FCC was all over us. More than they have the time and budget for. More than nearly any other pirate station in the country….[Denver FCC agent Jon] Sprague and friends were coming faster and more frequently than their counterparts do in markets like LA, SF, NYC, Dallas, Chicago and other large cities. Why would that be? The FCC responds to complaints from licensed broadcasters. They very rarely go out at random to shut down a pirate. Continue reading “Denver Free Radio Packs It In”

Scene Report: Colorado

Been tardy about this one: KCTSradio in Denver is now online and streaming; its on-air status, I think, is best described as “dormant.” According to some recent press, its founder, Carl Nimbus, is “all about determination…They bust you fast to discourage you, but we’re not going to get discouraged. We’re going to keep coming back on the air.”
In Boulder, Monk says “it’s time to grow the station again.” This time, they’re soliciting applications from everywhere: “if they’re tech savvy enough, they can be anywhere in the world. All they need is to be able to stream at 64kb have some music, a mic and an attitude.” This is similar to a “public access pirate radio” concept explored a few years back, except live.

Radio Re/Volt: Quickie Summary

Paul @ Mediageek has the complete rundown, with pics and the appropriate links to everywhere relevant to our adventure in Minneapolis. As conferences go, it was on the fun side: way too many people you want to get to know, way too little time. Tetsuo was certainly awe-inspiring, but so was Kyle Drake, Free Radio Twin Cities, free103point9, the audience reception to Making Waves, and the hardy contingent of midwest pirates who converged on the scene to represent. I got to drink with none of them. But still, a good time. If we manage to get hold of the recordings made of the conference sessions they will get online somehow, at the very least through Radio MCAD, the gracious host of it all.

Freak Radio Returns; Translations Top 300

Less than a month off the air. Not bad after getting cleaned out in a show of force by the FCC.
Technically, Free Radio Santa Cruz is still just webcasting. It seems that an unaffiliated group called SCRAM (Santa Cruz Radio Access Movement) is relaying the stream, tech specs unknown, but good news nonetheless. Continue reading “Freak Radio Returns; Translations Top 300”

Microradio Documentary Near Completion

Looks like 2004 will be a fruitful year, if you’re a fan of the micro-niche that is documentaries about microradio. I’ve heard from the producers of the tentatively-titled “Pirate Radio USA,” a feature-length doc made by microbroadcasters about the movement. No release date yet, just that something’s almost done.
There’s also new developments in Colorado: “Denver Free Radio” spent a grand total of five hours on the air before its latest airchain host got a visit from the FCC. “A white Chevy Tahoe,” with New Mexico plates, “with hidden antennas built into the roof” containing a squad of three rolled up. Denied an inspection, they phoned the property three times before tacking a note to the door. Mouse’s move…

Making Waves Review Online

It’s four pages of glowing text action seeded with something like 10 clips from the film. Its producer, Michael Lahey, is generous like that: he’s even opened up some crash space for the Mediageek and I on our visit to Minneapolis this weekend for the RAD conference. Seriously, though, it’s the best documentary yet on the subject and it’s good to see it’ll be screened at the conference. If you’re into microradio you get a good full hour of quality storytelling from Tucson that’ll make you (somewhat) proud. Contact Michael directly if you’d like a DVD.

Making Waves

Note: Images are clickable and will open a context-related clip from the documentary (Quicktime required).
licensegapMaking Waves (2004) is the second feature-length documentary from Jump Cut Films, the outlet of Michael Lahey. Central to the film are profiles of three microradio stations sharing the airwaves of Tucson, Arizona. Lahey manages to weave these separate stories into an overall narrative about the modern microradio movement, using the Reverend Rick Strawcutter as a tie-in to the national scene. Continue reading “Making Waves”