Free Radio San Diego Raided, Won't Stay Down For Long

A morning raid brings a gaggle of Feds to Free Radio San Diego, who busted in the doors to take the most choice bits of the station away, including transmitter and antenna. Epithets were hurled and pictures taken by onlookers as agents dismantled stuff. A bounty is out for one of the FCC’s swanky cop-like polo shirts. The raid comes more than a month after the station got a standard-issue 10-day warning notice posted on its door – the third warning over nearly three years of operation.
Nobody was in the studio at the time, and FRSD’s warrant mentions no people, which means the FCC is still trying to figure out who’s behind the action. DJ Spike, in an interview on RadioActive San Diego, notes the station has a strong security culture, which is really helping set the wheels in motion for its return.
“Not that money grows on trees, but it’s a lot easier to get money than it is to get good people,” says FRSD founder Bob Ugly in an informative chat with V-Man. The station has backup gear at the ready but will now take a moment to consider its deployment.
As for the FCC itself, “they’re a bullshit organization,” says Bob. Regardless, they are definitely on the prowl, having hit locations in a dozen states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico so far this year. While the frequency of enforcement activity seems to be running at or above last year’s pace, the pattern of activity exhibits no major change: visits and warning notices continue to be the front-line tools in the pirate-busting trade.
That other high-profile stations across the country had serious run-ins with the FCC recently is partly due to the fact that these minor annoyances were clearly having little effect – after repeated use – on these committed microbroadcasters. Bob Ugly’s remarked repeatedly that raids and the like are a small price to pay for the fight to make the public airwaves real.
From the number of warning letters being generated, the FCC is not being bashful about taking on new cases. Because the agency is complaint-driven it’s anyone’s guess as to whether more complaints means a more committed effort upon the part of licensed broadcasters and others to “self-police” their local radio dials, or whether it’s a sign of heightened microbroadcast activity. My own predilection is for the latter, but it’s most likely a combination of both.
The fact that stations like FRSD, rfb, and BLR have responded strongly to their tribulations signals a level of sophistication and commitment within the microradio movement itself that suggests health; a good sign within the slew of bad news.