Scene Reports: California, Montana, Michigan

California: Free Radio Santa Cruz issued a news release about the recent visit by FCC field agents David Doon and David Hartshorn, accompanied by a couple of bad photos of the duo in action. This supplements the audio clip captured by Skidmark Bob. Freak Radio is now operating at 101.1 FM and according to the Davids only merited a visit for their long-running unlicensed status, not because of any complaints of interference or spurious emissions.
Montana: The same morning as Freak Radio’s visit, FCC agents with armed backup executed a raid against Burton James’ mobile home microstation in Butte. His operation had been on the air for three years there and James claims to have been an active microbroadcaster for more than a decade in multiple states. He shrugged off the raid, according to the Montana Standard: “‘It really doesn’t matter,’ he said. ‘The transmitter was eight years old. It’s on its way out. I was intending to get another one.'” Continue reading “Scene Reports: California, Montana, Michigan”

WNFC Update: Ferndale Police Waffle

In his ongoing crusade to recruit community support for a limited-run unlicensed “demonstration” LPFM station in Ferndale, Michigan, Tom Ness has been lining up support from community leaders like gangbusters. Folks including Ferndale’s mayor, the local Catholic bishop, and possibly even some Congresscritters from Michigan will grace the mic of this experiment in civil disobedience, among many others.
However, Ferndale Police chief Michael Kitchen will not take part. His response to Ness’ offer of air time at WNFC:
You can’t “not encourage lawlessness” and then intentionally break a law. If you wish to “cooperate fully” with me, simply don’t break the law(s) which I am sworn to uphold. Continue reading “WNFC Update: Ferndale Police Waffle”

WNFC Proposal Collects Endorsements

The plan to demonstrate the power of LPFM with a temporary microradio station chock full o’ news and community programming in Ferndale, Michigan continues to roll along. A finalized version of the WNFC Manifesto is being printed this weekend and WNFC is accepting endorsements from anyone interested in expressing solidarity with this upcoming experiment.
You can e-mail WNFC directly with your name and any other information needed for an endorsement, if you’re so inclined. A preliminary list of supporters will be published with the Manifesto, but WNFC will accept support (symbolic or otherwise) “until this project is complete, several months down the line.” Continue reading “WNFC Proposal Collects Endorsements”

A New Twist on Electronic Civil Disobedience

Tom Ness, the dynamo behind a drive to collect dozens of community resolutions in Michigan supporting LPFM during its debate in Washington, is back with some new ideas – and this time he’s looking outside the system for success.
Ness’s “WNFC Manifesto” is a long read, but the essential plan is this: instead of starting an unlicensed station and building community support for it over time, why not enlist the community to build the station from the outset? Plan for a limited run of, say, two weeks – and pack those weeks with as much local programming as you can do. A key is having the backing of community officials and leaders. Continue reading “A New Twist on Electronic Civil Disobedience”

The WNFC Manifesto

by Tom Ness, Michigan Music is World Class Campaign
For a Measured Act of Civil Disobedience,
Regarding our Nation’s Public Airwaves
& the City of Ferndale, Michigan.
I. Background: History of the Michigan Music Campaign and the national movement to legalize community radio.
II. Why Ferndale needs our own radio station.
III. The FCC’s role.
IV. The problem.
a. Existing legal options.
b. Our efforts to reform the system.
V. Civil disobedience.
VI. Our plan to demonstrate the potential of Ferndale radio via a temporary unlicensed station.
a. The basics.
b. Support and participation.
c. How it will unfold.
d. When it’s over.
VII. The risks.
VIII. The future: What a permanent Ferndale radio station might be like
and who might run it. Continue reading “The WNFC Manifesto”

Give Me Pirate Radio

The following is the (heavily) edited text of the microradio “mass turn-on” proposal/presentation given by Tom Ness of the Michigan Music is World Class Campaign to a packed house at the Metro Detroit Area Green Party Clearinghouse on September 19, 2001.
Tom lays out an exciting and potentially powerful vision for the future of microradio in America. It will take more organization then has ever been seen before to pull it off – but it IS possible.
Dare to dream….If you would like a copy of the full text, simply Tom and he’ll be happy to send a copy your way.
If you can control what people think — or even what they think about — you don’t need expensive and messy armies. If you can control what people think, you’ve no need for police because people will happily do what you want — and think all along it is their idea. That is the power of the media, and why this subject is so acutely important. Continue reading “Give Me Pirate Radio”

A Modest Proposal

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grinds forward with its implementation of a minuscule low power FM (LPFM) community radio service, media activists around America are looking at new ways to further the gains they’ve made in opening access to the airwaves.
The FCC tried to acknowledge pressure from unlicensed microbroadcasters as a reason for attempting to widely legalize LPFM, but these so-called “pirates” were eventually cut out of the new opportunities through lobbying by the radio industry and National Public Radio.
That spurred many stations to redouble their broadcast efforts and brought new blood into the unlicensed microbroadcasting scene. For example, recently-visited free radio station KBFR – Boulder Free Radio – in Boulder, Colorado was originally run by applicants for an LPFM license. They decided to buck the law only after Congress stepped in and killed potential LPFM stations in America’s cities, including Boulder. Continue reading “A Modest Proposal”

Legislative Maneuvers

There are three levels at which to play the political game. They are the local (the bottom level), state (middle), and national (the top level). Each step up the ladder takes more effort, adds more risks, and can lead to more rewards. Not surprisingly, those higher up on the ladder contain more power than those on the lower rungs.
As far as the legalization of low-power radio goes, there’s different activity at different levels – and each one paints a unique perspective on how its political game is being played out. Surprisingly, much of the action is happening in Michigan.
Starting locally, Tom Ness and his merry band of walking civics lessons at the Michigan Music is World Class Campaign have been busy bringing the issue before city councils, township boards and other bodies of local government. The goal is to collect resolutions – official documents by a government body that don’t set policy, but do express an “official opinion” on an issue or cause. Continue reading “Legislative Maneuvers”