IBOC Reception and Politics Panned

Interesting hubbub in the trades surrounding the first digital radio-compatible receiver to hit the U.S. market, the Boston Acoustics Recepter HD. For $299 it promises to “receive and seamlessly play” HD Radio signals, including the new multicast channels some HD-equipped stations have begun broadcasting. But when a New York-based broadcast veteran plunked down the cash and got the box home, he found it didn’t work as advertised.
I went to the Ibiquity Web site to find that there were at least 13 stations broadcasting in HD in New York. One by one I tried to tune them in, and one by one I was met with frustration. Constant fiddling with the antenna yielded part-time successes. I managed to get Z100’s second channel for about three seconds, then three seconds of dead air, then on, then off…. Continue reading “IBOC Reception and Politics Panned”

FCC Still MIA on State Law Preemption

Jesse Walker recently wrote a nice treatise on the anti-pirate laws in Florida and New Jersey (albeit in dubious trappings, but you can read around that). Inspired, I decided to drop a line to the two Democrat FCC commissioners, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, both of whom are supposedly somewhat accessible via e-mail. They got this:
Since 2004 the state of Florida has asserted jurisdiction over the broadcast airwaves, something the FCC has historically worked very hard to keep within its exclusive domain. Last year, the state of New Jersey followed suit. Both states have essentially criminalized the act of unlicensed broadcasting, punishable as a felony involving jail sentences and multi-thousand dollar fines. Continue reading “FCC Still MIA on State Law Preemption”

Crashing Propaganda: The Miami Model

I’d been fixing to generally ignore this story but it’s been syndicated far and wide. When my mom said she read it on page two of the hometown daily the extent really sunk in. It’s a propaganda coup for the broadcast industry.
The main thrust, that pirate radio stations interfere with airplanes, gets hammered home quite nicely. In this particular case, involving a station in Miami that squats two FM frequencies, it should come as little surprise. In fact, with 20+ pirate stations operating in the Miami area alone, you are bound to encounter some problems with interference, in-band or otherwise. Continue reading “Crashing Propaganda: The Miami Model”

Inadvertently Going Mobile

Like much general-interest journalism that deals with science and technology, sometimes the important details can get a bit fuzzy as the journalist tries to put the facts in “language readers can understand.”
According to this particular story, some improperly-installed in-vehicle satellite radio receivers can transmit whatever programming their owners are listening to via the vehicle’s antenna. Some satellite receivers work by rebroadcasting the satellite feed using an onboard ultra-low power FM transmitter, which typically can’t be heard more than a few dozen feet away in optimal conditions. Drivers then simply tune their radio to whatever frequency the satellite receiver is broadcasting on to listen. Continue reading “Inadvertently Going Mobile”

Kulpsville Pirate Retrospective; N$X Demo Available

Thanks to Ragnar for recording a session from this year’s Winterfest gathering called the Year in Pirate Radio” (1:01:48, 21.3 MB). After a somewhat sparse summary of 2005 activity on the AM, FM and shortwave bands, Allan Weiner commandeers the mic and takes questions from the audience. He offers up some interesting observations on the FCC, his offshore pirate escapades, and what it’s like to run a 50,000-watt shortwave station.
In Florida, Rayon Payne aka N$X has established a new web site which includes a complete copy of his demo CD called “Unfinished Bizness,” which intersperses interview clips with material from the pirate days of yore. He’s still on the hunt for an open mic on this side of the law, and he’s still thinking big.

Moving Onto the Airwaves

Stephen Dunifer sent along this slick document: a four-page primer on why the airwaves are ripe for repossession and how to make it happen in your town. You get a concise overview of what the risks are and some basic tactical information. There’s a plug for Free Radio Berkeley’s more detailed graphic guide near the end. A good conversation-starter among activist-gatherings.

IBOC Update: HD Radio in the Media, Court

The issue of interference involving digital radio broadcasting on the AM band using the IBOC protocol has made it into the corporate media. The Wall Street Journal ran a piece earlier this month on the problem. However, smoothes it over as an “unexpected consequence,” which is false: the interference is due in part to the very design of the HD Radio system. Digital-related interference also affects FM transmissions, though not nearly as severely.
The article does note that Leonard Kahn, inventor of the CAM-D AM digital broadcasting protocol, has filed suit against iBiquity on antitrust grounds. As iBiquity’s backers are essentially the major broadcasters and consumer electronics manufacturers, Kahn accuses the “cartel” of imposing a proprietary digital radio standard on the country before the FCC’s had a chance to evaluate competitor technologies like his. Continue reading “IBOC Update: HD Radio in the Media, Court”

FCC Watch: Enforcement Tempo Quickens

The New York office has been spending a lot of time in New Jersey, perhaps in response to the state’s attempt to assert enforcement jurisdiction over the airwaves. (Meanwhile, in Florida, the FCC’s busy busting construction crane operators cursing on two-way radio frequencies licensed to a hospital.)
Out west, Berkeley Liberation Radio got another visit and the Portland Radio Authority is off the air after same. Free Radio Santa Cruz‘s Skidmark Bob did a long interview with BLR volunteer Gerald Smith, where the connection between the current station its evolution from roots in Free Radio Berkeley is vividly described. Field agents have also paid respects to stations in Nevada and New Mexico. Continue reading “FCC Watch: Enforcement Tempo Quickens”

Calvary Satellite Network Lawsuit Schism

Very interesting dirty laundry now flaps in the wind.
Until about two years ago, the translator station-mongering Calvary Satellite Network (CSN) was apparently run by a two-person board of directors. Now, one director is suing the other, alleging all manner of fiscal and managerial impropriety, among other misdeeds.
The accused is one Jeff Smith – son of Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel brand of megachurch and media empire. Continue reading “Calvary Satellite Network Lawsuit Schism”