Even though the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau is in the throes of a major downsizing – newly-released documents indicate the Bureau will cut 44 jobs, or more than 40% of its workforce – it’s also committed itself to do something about the proliferation of unlicensed broadcasting. That said, a before-and-after summary of personnel cuts doesn’t really show a lot of refocused muscle on the ground: for example, New York’s field office will see a net increase of one agent (from 4 to 5), while the “tiger teams” being created to backstop the field offices consist of no more than three or four.
Since pirate radio’s become a plaything of FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, and the broadcast lobby is chomping at the bit for a war on pirates, I would not be surprised if the agency, working in concert with groups like the NAB and New York State Broadcasters Association, attempt to sweep at least NYC this year in some “show of force.” Whatever the rhetoric may be, paper-tiger mode remains in full effect — and there’s a lot unlicensed broadcasters can do to prepare for whatever may come, both tactically and strategically. Continue reading “Prepping for a Pirate Crackdown”
Free Radio Berkeley is again conducting four-day Summer Radio Camps, in which participants get immersively indoctrinated into the technicalities of radio by assembling their own microradio transmitters and antennas. The first one goes down on Memorial Day weekend; the last happens in September. With plans to be in the SF Bay area during the start of August’s Camp, it would be neat to pop in and see how these things are done.
Also duly noted: FRB has translated Micropower Broadcasting: A Technical Primer into Spanish, and has made available a complete, scanned-page version of the “radio comic book” A Popular Guide to Building a Community FM Broadcast Station.
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.
Free Radio Berkeley’s 75-watt transmitter arrived safe and sound. It’s been re-tuned to 88.7 FM and is presently putting out about 80-90 watts. A shed’s been cleared out to serve as a full-time studio space; a military surplus mast has been procured and assembled; and a new antenna sits on top of it. Soon the station will be webcasting as well. The vibe is increasingly active as more and more people return to the city: there is much to do and many stories to tell.
There are approximately four workable microradio frequencies in the New Orleans metropolitan area, three short-term and one (arguably) longer-term: Continue reading “Algiers Microradio Gets Upgrade”
Mississippi: A crew from the Midwest has arrived in Waveland, Mississippi, where the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina made landfall. 30-foot storm surges left survivors literally naked – yet a tent city of sorts has blossomed among the destruction. “Radio Free Waveland” is now providing a 40-watt morale boost among those trying to make the most of a desperate situation (still no FEMA there).
District of Columbia: WSQT gave a fiery interview to the folks at Free Radio Santa Cruz this week. The station is currently off the air after donating its transmitter to Gulf Coast relief efforts and is also relocating following a visit from the FCC earlier this month. I’m a big fan of WSQT’s intensity: it is a guerrilla war, and time and numbers work in our favor.
California: Stephen Dunifer and volunteers with Free Radio Berkeley are assembling a 75-watt transmitter to send to New Orleans. Also, there have been more reports about Berkeley Liberation Radio returning to the air on a regular basis, although details remain sketchy.
A “radio comic book” called A Popular Guide to Building a Community FM Broadcast Station is the first release under Can of Worms Publishing, a new FRB venture. Some sample pages suggest a real potential to demystify the workings of radio; a Spanish-language version is also available. T.J. Enrile is the project’s main author.
Stephen Dunifer recently sent out an e-mail titled “The Revolution Will Be Televised,” which said, in part:
Free Radio Berkeley’s engineering staff has managed to design and develop low power VHF and UHF transmitters by the creative use of off-the-shelf technology. So far, design engineering efforts have yielded TV transmitters capable of reaching a distance of 4-5 miles. Estimated cost for a VHF transmitter and antenna system with an effective radiated power of 75 watts is about $500, $700 to $800 for a system with an effective radiated power of 400 watts. For a UHF system, add about $300 to the above amounts. Coverage pattern is 220 degrees, not fully omni-directional. Further work is continuing on the development of antenna systems…. Continue reading “Free Radio Berkeley Unveils Micro-TV Kits”
Free Radio Berkeley founder Stephen Dunifer updates his easy-to-read handbook with information on digital audio production and webcasting and the new realities of operating a microradio station in post-millenial America. Download it here (632K, .pdf format).
Its 25 pages are packed with useful information that thoroughly describes what you need to operate your basic microradio station and the general science behind FM broadcasting. It also includes schematics and circuit board layouts for most major components.
After moving his workshop last year, Dunifer is now also offering the use of his facilities for anyone interested in building their own rigs. It sounds like the 3-5 day project is a more detailed version of the transmitter-building workshops Dunifer and his crew have frequently run in the past.
During the last weekend in May, while many Americans were relaxing at the expense of those who gave their lives for their freedom, soldiers in a lower-profile domestic war gathered to plot their next moves in their fight.
The “Micropower Council of War” was called by Free Radio Berkeley founder Stephen Dunifer; if it were not for his ongoing battle with the government (through the courts), there would have been no blossoming of unlicensed radio stations – and no widespread microradio movement.
When the FCC announced its plans to re-legalize a low power FM (LPFM) radio service, Dunifer was one of the first to discount the move as political hype. Continue reading “Strategy Session”
Stephen Dunifer, founder of Free Radio Berkeley (FRB), has often been touted as a catalyst to the development of the U.S. microradio movement, and rightly so. He has been through a long and vigorous battle in the courts with the federal government over his 50-watt operation.
As his activism continued, the press finally got wind – hence the nationwide acclaim. Dunifer’s no stranger to working the press. Taken off the air after a setback in his case, Dunifer and FRB has been silent for nearly nine months now. Even so, it really came as no surprise when the following news release showed up today: Continue reading “FRB is Back”