Target: Translator

Translators: they are a pox on the FM radio dial.
Translators, by definition, are small low-power FM radio stations licensed with power levels of up to 250 watts. Translators are licensed by the FCC as “relay stations” only: they may not originate their own programming and must rebroadcast the signal from a full-power “parent station.”
Translators were originally designed to be used by FM radio stations located in difficult terrain, like mountainous regions of the United States, to help fill in gaps in their signal area.
Instead, several groups (most notably religious “pay to pray”-type broadcasters) have used the translator rules to build large networks of low-power radio stations across the country. Translators are easier to site and cheaper to build and operate than full-power FM radio stations. Continue reading “Target: Translator”

Feet in the Fire

The most offensive tactic in the radio activists’ arsenal has been taking to the air without a license, thereby reclaiming a small spot on the dial where former radio listeners can become broadcasters.
But change appears to be in the air: recent reports from around the country point to a growing use of stronger tactics put to use. They involve turning commercial and public radio outlets against themselves.
Two methods of accomplishing this have been demonstrated recently. The first is the “signal hijack,” which can be accomplished in a variety of ways. All of them allow the rogue broadcaster to temporarily disrupt or even take over a licensed station’s signal. Continue reading “Feet in the Fire”

Hacking the Dial

In the wake of stepped-up enforcement efforts by the FCC and a move by the radio industry to quash new legal community radio stations, microradio activists are thinking of embracing strategies to broadcast that go beyond setting up their own stations.
This fall in Green Bay, someone hijacked the local public radio affiliate by breaking into its transmitter building, splicing a cheap CD player into the air chain and hitting “play.”
Though technically daunting and physically risky, the “station hijacker” was able to broadcast death metal for several hours before someone from the station noticed. Continue reading “Hacking the Dial”

The Plus Side of Radio Monopolies

It is disturbing to see how consolidation in the radio industry is leading to the gobbling up of radio stations by major companies. Evergreen Media just swept through the Chicago market, taking a gangsta-rap station and changing it into born-again gospel overnight!
However, there is a small way to fight against the tide. Granted, not all the ways may be legal, but they are doable.
Raid the chief engineer’s closet.
A lot of stations, after being bought out by the some monolith, traditionally do some downsizing. There’s been a lot of outcry about the dwindling amount of local programming available on the airwaves, but station engineers are getting hard hit, too. Why keep one person on the payroll for each station if it’s not necessary (FCC rules now allow for unattended operation), or contracted technicians can do the job at half the cost? Continue reading “The Plus Side of Radio Monopolies”