Category Archives: Pirate Radio

Radio Waves: Hams Monitor Mars Spacecraft, Open Letter to Strengthen RCI, Pirate Radio Adverts, and WBBR QSL Update

Photo from the RCI Sackville transmitter site in 2012, a few months prior to its closure.

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Mike, Troy Riedel, David Iurescia, and Bob Janney for the following tips:


Ham Radio Signals From Mars (Spaceweather.com)

Ham radio operators are doing something that until recently only big Deep Space Networks could do. “We’re monitoring spacecraft around Mars,” says Scott Tilley of Roberts Creek, British Columbia, who listened to China’s Tianwen-1 probe go into orbit on Feb. 10th. The signal, which Tilley picked up in his own backyard, was “loud and audible.” Click to listen:

The signal Tilley received from Tianwen-1 is dominated by a strong X-band carrier wave with weaker side bands containing the spacecraft’s state vector (position and velocity). Finding this narrow spike of information among all the possible frequencies of deep space communication was no easy task.

“It was a treasure hunt,” Tilley says. “Normally a mission like this would have its frequency published by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union). China did make a posting, but it was too vague for precise tuning. After Tianwen-1 was launched, observers scanned through 50MHz of spectrum and found the signal. Amateurs have tracked the mission ever since with great accuracy thanks to the decoded state vector from the probe itself.”[]

Open letter to PM, Ministers calls for international service to be strengthened, not cut (RCI Action Committee)

The following open letter was sent February 15, 2021 to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, and Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault asking them to maintain the integrity of Canada’s Voice to the World, Radio Canada International (RCI).

Thirty-two signatories, including former Prime Minister Joe Clark, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Stephen Lewis, author-composer-songwriter-film director Richard Desjardins, author Naomi Klein, and actor Donald Sutherland, ask that the CBC/Radio-Canada policy announcement of December 3, 2020 be blocked, as well as any changes to RCI, until RCI staff, along with an assembled group of qualified people outside CBC/Radio-Canada, can propose a plan to rebuild the international service.

The signatories say the plan should devise a form of financial and editorial autonomy for RCI. And outline a path to follow to restore the international mandate and effectiveness of Radio Canada International in the context of today and the future.

For more information, please contact Wojtek Gwiazda, Spokesperson, RCI Action Committee, wojtekrciaction@gmail.com

If you would like to help us please consult this page:

What you can do – Comment vous pouvez nous aider

http://rciaction.org/blog/what-you-can-do/

Click here to read the Open Letter.

Prominent Canadians rally to save Radio Canada International one more time (Toronto Star)

OTTAWA – A group of prominent Canadians is calling on the CBC to rethink its decision to significantly cut staff and rebrand the globally focused Radio Canada International to focus on domestic news.

Wojtek Gwiazda, spokesman for the group trying to save RCI, says the CBC is planning to cut 13 full-time staff and three contract jobs from a staff of about 20.

They’ve sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a letter signed by 32 prominent Canadians, including former prime minister Joe Clark, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Stephen Lewis, author Naomi Klein and actor Donald Sutherland asking for the decision to be reversed.

Gwiazda says the new CBC policy will focus almost exclusively on producing programming for ethnic communities and the ethnic media inside Canada, instead of directing programming to an international audience.

Gwiazda says the move is a violation of the Broadcasting Act and order-in-council that created RCI in 1945.

In the December memo to RCI staff, the CBC said it was “modernizing” the news service for the 21st century by offering more translated CBC content in new languages such as Punjabi and Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines.

“By becoming more relevant, more visible or more widely available in the languages spoken by the largest number of new Canadians, the new offering will allow Radio Canada International to better connect and engage with its target audience. RCI will also make all this content freely available to interested ethnic community media,” says the CBC statement.

RCI is used to fighting for its survival since the CBC cut its shortwave radio service in 2012, which severed the broadcaster from its Chinese audience, said Gwiazda.[]

Save and rave! How a compilation of pirate radio adverts captures a lost Britain (The Guardian)

Fashion boutiques, shop-fitters and others advertised alongside raves on early 1990s pirate radio. Now, a new compilation is rediscovering a slice of the underground

ave you got that record that goes ah-woo-ooo-ooh-yeah-yeah?” It’s a scene familiar to anyone who spent time in a hardcore rave record shop in the 1990s – a punter asking for a tune they’ve heard on pirate radio or at a rave but they don’t know the title of, so they mimic the riff or sample hook hoping someone behind the counter recognises it.

A relic of pre-Shazam life, the ritual is preserved in an advert for Music Power Records aired on the pirate station Pulse FM in 1992. Nick Power, owner of the north London shop, recalls that no matter how mangled the customer’s rendition, “nearly always, you’d be able to identify the exact record they were looking for”. In the advert, Power plays the roles of both sales assistant and punter, pinching his nose to alter his voice. Almost 40 years later, the comic skit commercial has been resurrected alongside others on two volumes of London Pirate Radio Adverts 1984-1993, by audio archivist Luke Owen. Power is pleasantly bemused by this turn of events: “I can’t see there’d be a demand for radio ads, but there’s got to be someone out there who’s interested enough to buy it. I don’t see it being a platinum release, though!”

Released via his label Death Is Not the End, Vol 1 is available digitally at a name-your-price rate and for £7.50 as a limited-edition cassette tape – an echo of the format on which pirate listeners captured transmissions of hardcore and jungle. Back then, most fans pressed pause when the ad break started, which means that surviving documents of the form are relatively scarce. But what once seemed ephemeral and irritating has acquired period charm and collectability.[]

Reception Reports & QSL Cards for WBBR-AM (via Bob Janney)

Good Day Dxers and SWLers

We are pleased when we receive requests to confirm reception of Bloomberg radio station WBBR-AM New York 1130 kHz 50 Kw DA-N. We enjoy reading those reports and listening to recordings of your reception from WBBR-AM. We are responding by e-mail to all reception reports as quickly as we can. Following the email response we will mail our QSL Card to the DX’er or club that provided us with the reception report.

Please note that my colleague in New York City, Mr. Michael Lysak has become quite busy with radio program and reporter scheduling so, in the future could you please ask everyone to direct their reception reports to:

Bob Janney WB3EBN
WBBR-AM Transmitter Site Technician
E-mail 8rwjanney54@bloomberg.net

If you are in touch with other radio clubs would you please advise those clubs to send requests for our QSL card to Bob.

Thanks 73 & good DX


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Chris analyzes HF pirate radio activity from 2017-2020

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Chris Smolinski, who shares annual pirate radio activity reports he has recently published on his blog. Chris notes that, due to time constraints, he hasn’t been able to publish these for a while, but recently posted reports from 2017-2020.

Click the year to read each report on RadioHobbyist.org:

Thanks, Chris! I love these insights and find it fascinating to see similarities in activity from year-to-year.

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FCC: Pirate Act now targets property owners with fines up to $2 Million

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Benn Kobb, who shares the following press release from the FCC:


Media Contact:
Will Wiquist, (202) 418-0509
will.wiquist@fcc.gov

For Immediate Release

FCC ENFORCEMENT BUREAU WARNS PROPERTY OWNERS AND
MANAGERS OF SIGNIFICANT NEW FINANCIAL PENALTIES FOR
ALLOWING ILLEGAL BROADCASTING ON THEIR PROPERTY

Notice Could Precede Fines of Up to $2 Million Under the PIRATE Act

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2020—The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau today announced it
has begun targeting property owners and managers that knowingly tolerate pirate broadcasting
on their properties, exercising the Commission’s new authority under the recently enacted
PIRATE Act. Parties that knowingly facilitate illegal broadcasting on their property are liable
for fines of up to $2 million.

“Pirate radio is illegal and can interfere with not only legitimate broadcast stations’ business
activities but also those stations’ ability to inform the public about emergency information,”
said Rosemary Harold, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “It is unacceptable – and plainly
illegal under the new law – for landlords and property managers to simply opt to ignore pirate
radio operations. Once they are aware of these unauthorized broadcasts, they must take steps
to stop it from continuing in their buildings or at other sites they own or control. If they do not
do so, they risk receiving a heavy fine, followed by collection action in court if they do not pay
it. In addition, our enforcement actions will be made public, which may create further
unforeseen business risks.”

Under the new authority, the Enforcement Bureau will provide written notice to property
owners and managers the agency has reason to believe are turning a blind eye to – or even
helping facilitate – illegal broadcasting. These new Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio
Broadcasting also will afford parties a period of time to remedy the problem before any
enforcement action moves forward. In the first such notices, issued today to property owners
regarding their buildings in New York City, the respective parties were given 10 days to
respond. The Bureau will consider any response before taking further action.

Commission investigations have found that landlords and property managers too often are
aware of this illegal activity taking place on their premises. The Commission has previously
sent warnings to landlords and even sought cooperation from national property owners’
organizations in raising awareness. With pirate broadcasts persisting despite these efforts,
Congress took action and empowered the Commission to penalize property owners and
managers that knowingly permit pirate broadcasters to remain operating from the landlord’s
buildings or unbuilt areas. Landlords and property managers also may be found liable if a
pirate station ceases operation for some period of time but later resumes at the same site.

Separately, the Enforcement Bureau and the Office of the Managing Director also released
today an Order amending the Commission’s rules to implement the new enforcement authority
granted by Congress through section 2 of the PIRATE Act, as codified in 47 U.S.C. § 511.
Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio Broadcasting are available at:

Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368827A1.pdf
Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368817A1.pdf
Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368826A1.pdf

The PIRATE Act is available at: https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ109/PLAW116publ109.pdf.

###

Media Relations: (202) 418-0500 / ASL: (844) 432-2275 / Twitter: @FCC / www.fcc.gov
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).

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Radio Waves: Ajit Pai to Resign, Hams Need to Embrace Hacker Community, Coast Guard Might Abandon HF Voice Watchkeeping, and FCC Action Against Unauthorized Transceivers

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave agency on Inauguration Day (PBS News Hour)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, says he is leaving the telecommunications regulator on Inauguration Day.

President-elect Joe Biden will choose a new Democratic head for the agency. A new administration typically picks a new chairman.

Pai has presided over a contentious FCC over the last four years. He undid net neutrality rules that barred internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T from favoring some types of online traffic over others in 2017 and championed other deregulatory efforts. He has also worked to free up spectrum for cellphone companies so they can roll out 5G, the next-generation wireless standard that promises faster speeds, and cracked down on Chinese telecom companies as national security threats.

The incoming FCC is likely to try to reinstate net neutrality rules and focus on closing the “digital divide,” getting internet service to Americans who don’t have it because it’s not available or they can’t afford it.[]

Ham Radio Needs To Embrace The Hacker Community Now More Than Ever (Hackaday)

As many a radio amateur will tell you, ham radio is a hobby with as many facets as there are radio amateurs. It should be an exciting and dynamic place to be, but as those who venture forth into it sometimes sadly find out, it can be anything but. Tightly-knit communities whose interests lie in using $1,000 stations to chase DX (long-distance contacts), an advancing age profile, and a curious fascination of many amateurs with disaster communications. It’s something [Robert V. Bolton, KJ7NZL] has sounded off about in an open letter to the amateur radio community entitled “Ham Radio Needs To Embrace The Hacker Community Now More Than Ever“.

In it he laments that the influx in particular of those for whom disaster preparedness is the reason for getting a licence is to blame for amateur radio losing its spark, and he proposes that the hobby should respond by broadening its appeal in the direction of the hacker community. The emphasis should move from emergency communications, he says, and instead topics such as software defined radio and digital modes should be brought to the fore. Finally he talks about setting up hacker specific amateur radio discussion channels, to provide a space in which the talk is tailored to our community.[]

Coast Guard Proposes to Discontinue HF Voice Watchkeeping (ARRL News)

The US Coast Guard has invited comments by January 21, 2021, on a proposal to discontinue HF voice watchkeeping. The proposal [PDF] appeared on November 20 in the Federal Register. The USCG proposes to cease monitoring 4125, 6215, 8291, and 12,290 kHz, in the contiguous US and Hawaii, due to a lack of activity.

“We believe this change would have a low impact on the maritime public, as commercial satellite radios and Digital Selective Calling (DSC) marine-SSB HF radios have become more prevalent onboard vessels,” the Coast Guard said. “However, we would like your comments on how you would be affected if we terminated monitoring HF voice-only distress frequencies within the contiguous US and Hawaii, particularly if you use HF, but do not currently have a commercial satellite radio or an HF DSC-capable radio aboard your vessel.”[]

FCC takes action against marketing of unauthorized transceivers (Southgate ARC)

On November 24 FCC Enforcement Bureau (EB) issued a citation and order concerning the illegal marketing of unauthorized radio frequency devices

The citation says:

This CITATION AND ORDER (Citation), notifies Rugged Race Products, Inc. d/b/a
Rugged Radios (Rugged Radios or Company) that it unlawfully marketed six models of radio frequency devices that (a) operated outside the scope of their respective equipment authorization, or without any equipment authorization; (b) permitted any operator to program and transmit on new frequencies using the device’s external operation controls; and (c) lacked the appropriate labeling. Specifically, Rugged Radios marketed models RH5R-V2, RM25R, RM25R-WP, RM50R, RM60-V, and RM100 in violation of section 302(b) of the Communications Act, as amended (Act), and sections 2.803(b), 2.925(a)(1), 80.203(a), 90.203(a), 90.203(e), 95.361(a), and 95.391 of the Commission’s rules.

Read the Citation and Order at
https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-1395A1.pdf

Source FCC Enforcement Bureau
https://www.fcc.gov/enforcement


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Richard logs shortwave pirates WDOG and Radio Station EFP

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Lacroix, who shares the following:

First off, thank you goes out to John Hudak’s timely post on the ODXA group. Shortly after his post, I was able to quickly tune-in and intercept 2 pirate radio stations on September 5 2020 during the period 00:30 to 02:17 UTC.

John’s post read:

“Pirate station WDOG is on 5060kHz. USB right now as I write this – 0027UTC Sept. 5, 2020 (8:27 p.m. EDT Fri. Sept. 4). Fairly good signal, playing various rock and pop songs. Frequent ID’s between songs and sound of dog barking.”

There were in actuality 2 sequential broadcasts. The first from WDOG on 5060.0 kHz USB from an unconfirmed start time until sign-off with “Star-Spangled Banner” played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock at 01:53 UTC.

The second broadcast followed suite by Radio Station EFP, as well on 5060.0 kHz, but this time in AM mode. Radio Station EFP continued to broadcast until approximately 02:17 UTC after which it started to exhibit deep signal path fades and eventually went off-air at 02:17:40 UTC.

Armed with the combination of devoted listeners posting reception reports and a radio always at the ready, this made for a very exciting 2 hours of SWL.

Included is a 10 minute audio compilation for everyone to enjoy which I stitched together from the 2 plus hours of off-air broadcast recording I saved:

This is brilliant, Richard! Thank you so much for sharing your notes and recording.

I haven’t done nearly enough pirate radio listening this summer. Your timely report reminds me it’s time to change that! Arrrrr!

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Radio Waves: Narco-Antennas, Pirate Radio Beginnings, Arqiva Restructure and Redundancies, and the Ghostly Buzzer

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Skip Arey,  David Goren, Paul Evans, Kanwar Sandhu and Dave Porter for the following tips:


Special Report: Drug cartel ‘narco-antennas’ make life dangerous for Mexico’s cell tower repairmen (Reuters)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The young technician shut off the electricity at a cellular tower in rural Mexico to begin some routine maintenance.

Within 10 minutes, he had company: three armed men dressed in fatigues emblazoned with the logo of a major drug cartel.

The traffickers had a particular interest in that tower, owned by Boston-based American Tower Corp (AMT.N), which rents space to carriers on its thousands of cellular sites in Mexico. The cartel had installed its own antennas on the structure to support their two-way radios, but the contractor had unwittingly blacked out the shadowy network.

The visitors let him off with a warning.

“I was so nervous… Seeing them armed in front of you, you don’t know how to react,” the worker told Reuters, recalling the 2018 encounter. “Little by little, you learn how to coexist with them, how to address them, how to make them see that you don’t represent a threat.”

The contractor had disrupted a small link in a vast criminal network that spans much of Mexico. In addition to high-end encrypted cell phones and popular messaging apps, traffickers still rely heavily on two-way radios like the ones police and firefighters use to coordinate their teams on the ground, six law enforcement experts on both sides of the border told Reuters.[]

How Pirate Radio Rocked the 1960s Airwaves and Still Exists Today (HowStuffWorks)

If you’ve been binge-watching movies lately, you may have come across “Pirate Radio.” Director Richard Curtis’ 2009 comedy-drama stars the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Count, a disc jockey for an unlicensed rock radio station that broadcast from a rusty, decrepit ship off the British coast in the mid-1960s, defying government authorities to spin the rock records that weren’t allowed on the BBC at the time. The plot is based loosely on the saga of an actual former pirate station, Radio Caroline, that was founded by an offbeat Irish entrepreneur named Ronan O’Rahilly, the inspiration for the character portrayed by Bill Nighy.

“Pirate Radio” is a period piece, set in a time when the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and the Who’s “My Generation” were still scandalous and controversial rather than nostalgic anthems for today’s aging baby boomers. So you couldn’t be blamed for assuming that it depicts a long-vanished phenomenon, like Nehru jackets with iridescent scarves and psychedelic-patterned paper mini dresses.

To the contrary, though, more than a half-century later, pirate radio is still a thing. In fact, it’s possibly more widespread than it was in the 1960s, even in an age when streaming internet services such as Spotify and Pandora put the equivalent of a jukebox in the pocket of everyone with a smartphone. And as a bonus, Radio Caroline still exists — though, ironically, it’s gone legal.[]

Arqiva confirms restructure and redundancies (IBC.org)

[Note: Arqiva is the UK domestic broadcast transmission provider.]

Arqiva is working on a restructure of its business that could result in a third of its staff being made redundant.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the media infrastructure business is preparing to cut around 500 staff, which is approximately a third of its workforce.

An Arqiva spokesperson confirmed to IBC365 that some job losses will occur.

They said: “The sale of our telecoms business makes Arqiva a smaller organisation, changes our revenue profile and reduces our available profit pool.

”We are therefore conducting a review of the costs and systems we need to run our business over the next three years.

”Regrettably, we will need to reduce the size of our workforce, but it’s much too early to speculate about numbers.”

The Telegraph report cites the shift to streaming and a drop in income for broadcasters as reasons for the potential cuts.[]

The ghostly radio station that no one claims to run (BBC Future)

In the middle of a Russian swampland, not far from the city of St Petersburg, is a rectangular iron gate. Beyond its rusted bars is a collection of radio towers, abandoned buildings and power lines bordered by a dry-stone wall. This sinister location is the focus of a mystery which stretches back to the height of the Cold War.

It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.

Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.

It’s so enigmatic, it’s as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”. It joins two similar mystery stations, “the Pip” and the “Squeaky Wheel”. As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.[…]


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Radio Waves: DXE Virtual Hamfest, USAGM Shake-Up, Ham Radio Breaking the C-19 Doldrums, and FCC Fines FM Pirates

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Bill, Paul, Mike Terry and the Southgate ARC  for the following tips:


DXE Virtual Hamfest and DX Academy on July 25 (DX Engineering)

Join the Elmers at DX Engineering and a host of Ham Radio luminaries on Saturday, July 25, 2020, for the first DXE Virtual Hamfest and DX Academy—two online events combined into a full day of fun, learning, and drawings for DX Engineering gift cards (must be registered and present on Zoom during the drawings to qualify).

Both events are free and open to all—click here to register. Once signed up, you will receive a link to access the events in real-time on the Zoom webinar platform, or you can watch live on the DX Engineering YouTube channel.[]

US global media agency seeks to kick out international journalists (Southgate ARC)

CNN Business reports: Efforts to clean house at the US Agency for Global Media continued this week as leadership indicated that international journalists who work for Voice of America (VOA) will not have their visas extended and a widely respected top editor at Radio Free Asia was fired, explained three sources familiar with the decisions.

Under the new leadership of Michael Pack, who took the job as USAGM’s CEO last month, the organization which oversees US-funded broadcasters VOA and RFA among others has been thrust into a wide-ranging shakeup which appears to be politically motivated.

With indications that Pack is not going to allow visas to be extended for international VOA journalists in the US, there are dozens of journalists who could face retaliation if they are forced to return to their home countries.

Read the full CNN news story
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/10/media/usagm-voice-of-america-visas/index.html

In Colorado Springs and beyond, ‘magic’ of ham radio breaks doldrums of COVID-19 (The Gazette)

On the windswept prairie east of Colorado Springs, in a ramshackle trailer plastered with maps and codes associated with every sector of the world, strange sounds are coming from a radio.

Static mixes with R2-D2-like beeps and bops. Don DuBon has a microphone in one hand while the other twirls a dial, searching.

“Alpha, foxtrot, zero, sierra,” he says, speaking into the void. “Alpha, foxtrot, zero, sierra…”

That’s the call sign for the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association, the group of enthusiasts who make this trailer their base.

Hams, as they’re also called, take special pride in their contact with each other across the globe. They keep log sheets. One here by DuBon shows contact made with a Chuck (call sign KI6HK) in California; a Jake (K4BOM) in England; a Brooks (K2CNN) in Alabama; and others in Uruguay, Brazil and New York.

DuBon, N6JRL, is looking for others.

“Spain,” he says, recognizing the call sign heard through the clutter. “That’s a station in Spain. … He’s got a bunch of people calling him.”

“It’s called a pile-up,” says Jim Bishop, KD0KQL, fellow club member and retiree. The two are now gray but engaged in something that makes them feel young, still boys with their radios.

The Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association (PPRAA), counting a little more than 100 members mostly from generations past, is among an underground but bustling faction of American culture. Active call signs given by the Federal Communications Commission represent 0.25% of the U.S. population. In El Paso County, the ranks number about 3,500.[]

FCC Continues to Prosecute Pirate Radio Operators – Two Settlements with Identified Violators (Lexology.com)

Pirate radio operators continue to be a problem – particularly in major metropolitan areas. The week before last, the FCC resolved two long-pending cases against pirate operators through negotiated settlements. In one case, the FCC last year initially proposed a fine of $151,005 for the illegal operation. After examining the operator’s finances, the Bureau agreed to a $4,000 fine now, with a penalty of $75,000 should the operator violate the law again (see this decision against an operator called Radio Concorde). In the second case, the FCC had proposed a $453,015 fine last year, but agreed to take $5,000 now, with penalty of $225,000 if the operator violates the terms of the consent decree (see the decision dealing with operator Radio TeleBoston). Last year, we wrote here about the much larger fines initially proposed for these two operators.

In both cases, the FCC seemingly recognized reality in taking the small upfront payments now rather than trying to collect huge fines that likely were beyond the ability of the operators to pay. The FCC also required the surrender of the operator’s equipment and a commitment to stay away from pirate radio for 20 years or face much larger fines. The big fines initially imposed in these cases were set even before Congress enacted the PIRATE Act early this year. The new law allows for fines on illegal operators of $100,000 per day, up to a maximum total fine of $2,000,000. Even without the full effect of the PIRATE Act, these cases show the deterrent effect of these large fines.[]


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