Itching for a Fight

Rumors of the demise of United Patriot Radio have proven to be false; whether or not this is a good thing, only time will tell.
United Patriot Radio is a shortwave pirate broadcasting from somewhere in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Run by a self-described militiaman named Steve Anderson (no relation), UPR originally came to life as Kentucky State Militia Radio (KSMR) in March, 2000, relaying militia-related news and advocating resistance to further encroachment by the Federal government on the lives of America’s citizenry.
Broadcasting on the upper sideband of 3260 kHz with a handful of watts and a homemade antenna, KSMR caused a small stir in the shortwave pirate community: never before had a clandestine station targeting the United States government actually broadcast from within its own borders.
But, as more and more people tuned in KSMR, more and more began not to like what they heard. Continue reading “Itching for a Fight”

Parting Ways

There is much news to report as the introduction of America’s new low power FM (LPFM) service continues. While progress is good, it’s apparent now that the service – and its new constituents – are working to separate themselves from the movement of electronic civil disobedience which spurred its creation.
The FCC has been quietly issuing new LPFM station construction permits in small batches; the current count is now up to 41, and it’s expected that handfuls will continue to be released throughout the year.
The lack of fanfare from the FCC, who could certainly use a bit of publicity on an issue like this to at least maintain its rhetorical populism, is a bit disturbing. Continue reading “Parting Ways”

New Moves in the Netherlands

For years The Netherlands has been a hot-spot on the European pirate scene. Dozens, if not hundreds, of FM stations operate there with relative impunity. The impetus for Dutch pirates has been a cultural one – popular niche music (such as dance and electronica) are all but ignored by the country’s commercial outlets. Pirates have rushed to fill the void, using hundreds of watts of power in the process.
For a country less than twice the size of the American state of New Jersey, you’d think their “radio police” would have little problem shutting stations down. But the State Agency for Radiocommunications, or RDR, has been unable to clear the airwaves of pirates, who often resume broadcasting almost immediately after being caught.
Several tactics have been tried in the Dutch war against pirate radio. First the RDR issued stiff fines against unlicensed broadcasters, but many were overturned in court when the judges ruled that the RDR hadn’t collected “sufficient evidence” to justify the penalty. Measuring and monitoring an unlicensed radio signal is not enough – if agents don’t confirm the actual presence of a pirate transmitter with their own eyes, then there isn’t enough grounds to issue a fine. Continue reading “New Moves in the Netherlands”

Party Pirate Gives it Up?

Pirate radio blooms around the world for different reasons and faces different challenges, depending on where the station is located and the reasons for going on the air. In the United States, pirates tend to take to the air for political reasons: whether it be to protest the corporate takeover of the local airwaves or to challenge the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), putting a pirate station on the air is a signal of open defiance to the status quo.
Nobody has exemplified this nature of struggle more than Doug Brewer. He joined the ranks of the microradio movement early on in the game, setting up Tampa’s Party Pirate 102.1in 1994 as an outgrowth of a small station he installed to broadcast Christmas music at his home during the holidays.
Listeners in Tampa flocked to the station but the FCC wasn’t pleased; an overzealous crew of enforcement agents based in Tampa made it their mission in life to take the Party Pirate off the air. They began with a visit in 1996 and issued Brewer a $1,000 fine for unlicensed broadcasting. Continue reading “Party Pirate Gives it Up?”

A Slow Demise?

While the Federal Communications Commission continues to slowly move ahead with plans to roll out new low power FM (LPFM) stations, its Chairman is sending mixed messages about the fledgling service’s future.
So far, 25 LPFM applicants have received construction permits for their stations. These permits allow the applicants to build their actual facilities and prepare for broadcasting, but they still require an official license from the FCC before they can flip the switch on regular programming.
The FCC will also complete its first round of application-processing in June, when it accepts LPFM station proposals from the 20 remaining U.S. states and territories who haven’t had a chance to file yet. Continue reading “A Slow Demise?”