Scene Reports: Colorado, California, Tennessee

Colorado: Denver Free Radio was busted this morning after a scant three days on the air. That’s a pretty quick turnaround for the FCC, although it certainly helps that there’s a field office right in town so they didn’t have to go very far to pay the station a visit.
The agents reportedly arrived in “a green SUV with a big white dome on it” and observers also noticed other trucks in the area bristling with antennas; it’s not clear whether this was legitimate backup or local broadcast engineers/amateur radio ops out for a joyride.
Apparently Denver Free Radio operates on a model similar to Boulder Free Radio (KBFR) in that it is “locationally-flexible” – this means there’s a decent chance of the station making a return. The FCC folks did ask those hosting DFR’s gear to willingly give it up; that request was (fortunately) denied. As a result FCC agents have reportedly staked out the transmitter location, ostensibly in an an attempt to pin a person down to the operation who can be punished.
Speaking of Boulder, KBFR has returned to the air after more than a month of downtime. It had another benefit show this weekend; More are in the works. Station founder “Monk” has provided a little more description of the station’s new governance/operational structure – sounds like it’s still a work in progress.
California: A new station is on the air in San Francisco. Neighborhood Public Radio‘s genesis was as part of a performance space at a local art gallery but it seems the station’s prepared to broadcast indefinitely now. The programming focus is a mixture of radical news and audio-as-art.
Tennessee: An update from Knoxville – KFAR held an emergency meeting over the weekend to plot its return to the airwaves. Station volunteers are keeping things tactically close-to-the-vest (a smart move).
Some are skittish over the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s involvement in the case: it appears that the original complainant, who coincidentally previously worked for the FBI, called on the local FBI outpost for backup in his “investigation” into the station. According to quotes from the FCC’s affidavit, two “special agents” were on “special assignment” with regard to KFAR.
It’s important to place the meaning of the words “special assignment” in context. While it certainly sounds intimidating and implies a deeper government connection to the bust beyond simple FCC involvement, FBI agents can be on “special assignment” for just about any reason, ranging from a bona-fide investigation to running out for donuts and coffee. What’s also important to note is that the complaint against the station did not originate with an active FBI agent: they were called upon by a “friend” to lend a hand. Whether they stay involved upon KFAR’s return to the airwaves will certainly clarify the situation.