Category Archives: Pirate Radio

Are government shutdowns a potential haven for pirate radio stations?

Photo by Michael Maasen

SWLing Post Bill Patalon sent me this piece from the ARRL stating that amateur radio applications have been on hold at the FCC as most of the agency has been closed in the US government shutdown. It appears the government will reopen now, at least for the next three weeks.

Thinking about the closure of the FCC and its effect on licensed operators, also made me think about unlicensed radio operators: a.k.a. pirate radio stations.

Are government shutdowns a potential broadcast opportunity for pirates that might not otherwise take to the air?

I’m curious if anyone noted new shortwave or FM pirate stations during the US government shutdown. Did the respite from FCC enforcement bring anyone out of the woodwork?  Please comment!

PS: Can you do us a favor? In comments, please stay on topic (radio) and refrain from political arguments. Many of us appreciate the SWLing Post as a refuge from the toxic back-and-forth prevalent on so many other sites. If you would like to engage in political discourse, please check out Reddit. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

Randy Bachman features Radio Caroline music on the CBC

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who writes:

Randy Bachman featured the music played on Radio Caroline in two shows
broadcast on CBC during the spring of this year. Check out both on
www.randybachman.com and scroll down until you find the pirate radio
shows.

Both programs of Randy’s Vinyl Tap brought back so many good
memories.

Thanks for the tip, Bruce!

Spread the radio love

Texas Standard explores the rich history of outlaw radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Guy (KC5GOI), for sharing a link to the following (brilliant–!) radio feature from the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard For November 23, 2018

On this Black Friday, we explore how marketing created a legacy of pirates in the air over Texas – affecting music culture and politics. It’s a special edition of The Texas Standard.

With shopping season officially underway, we often think of hyper-commercialism as a creation of Madison Avenue. But one could make the case that America’s hype machine got its start along the border of Texas and Mexico, with a million watts of power leading to a revolution of outlaw broadcasters that’s still making a mark today.

You may have noticed that at the beginning of most of our programs, we say “no matter where you are, you’re on Texas Standard time.” How that came about it no accident. It’s a reference to something we haven’t touched on before here on The Standard – a callback to a time where no matter where you were, a particular sound with its roots along the Texas border, blanketed the country and changed the way we heard music, received distant messages and experienced media. It was outlaw radio – programming considered too dangerous for prime time. That’s the subject of today’s special edition of The Texas Standard:

– The Border Blasters’ Influence: how enormously powerful radio stations broadcasting from the border between the 1930s to the 70s, influenced musicians and music itself.

– Goat Glands And Freedom From The Law: Medical huckster and patent medicine seller J.R. Brinkley made his fortune selling his services via border radio.

– Selling Flour And Politics: In the 1930s, W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel used radio, and western swing pioneer, Bob Wills,  to market flour. Then, he used the same technique to run for Texas governor, and later senator. He won both those races. 

–  The British Get Invaded: In the middle of the swingin’ 60s, a group of Texas radio “blasters” used an old minesweeper to beam “Radio London” into England, subverting the BBC’s monopoly on the airwaves.

 Typewriter Rodeo: A Radio Dream.

–  Modern Pirates: The days of outlaw radio aren’t all in the past. The FCC has cracked down on those who run stations in defiance of the law, but broadcasters persist, especially in an era when the means of making radio are cheaper than ever.

Click here to listen to this feature at the Texas Standard or Soundcloud.

I should add that if you find the topic of border blasting fascinating, I encourage you to check out the book Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam which tells the story of Dr. John Brinkley and eventually (of course) blasting massive signals across the US/Mexico border.

Click here to view Charlatan on Amazon (affiliate link). 

Spread the radio love

FCC fines ham $25,000 for operating FM pirate radio station

(Source: Southgate ARC)

FCC fines Amateur Radio licensee $25,000 for operating unlicensed FM station

ARRL reports in an FCC Enforcement Bureau case going back to early 2015, a Paterson, New Jersey, Amateur Radio licensee has been penalized in the amount of $25,000 for allegedly continuing to operate an unlicensed FM radio station

The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order on October 30 to Winston A. Tulloch, KC2ALN, a General class licensee. The fine followed an April 2018 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) issued to Tulloch for alleged “willful and repeated violation” of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by operating an unlicensed FM radio station on 90.9 MHz in Paterson. Tulloch did not respond to the NAL, the FCC indicated.

“Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio stations do not broadcast Emergency Alert Service messages and therefore create a public safety hazard for their listener,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order. “Moreover, unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the Commission’s authority over broadcast radio operations.”

Read the full ARRL story at
http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-fines-amateur-radio-licensee-25-000-for-operating-unlicensed-fm-station

Spread the radio love

Halloween: Listen for shortwave pirates!

Halloween is typically the most active day of the year for shortwave pirates. Halloween falls on Wednesday, October 31st, and although this is the middle of the week, expect pirates to emerge like The Great Pumpkin!

Here are three things you’ll want to do Halloween night:

1. Hobby Broadcasting Blog

Check out Andrew Yoder’s pirate radio blog ,the Hobby Broadcasting blog.

Andrew is the author of the Pirate Radio Annual and a guru on shortwave pirate radio. Andrew has already logged some Halloween stations this weekend.

2. HF Underground

hfunderground

Follow real-time pirate radio spots and loggings on the HF Underground discussion forum. Chris Smolinski at HFU typically posts post-Halloween pirate stats on the SWLing Post as well–always a fascinating overview.

3. Listen!

Photo by Bill Patalon

Listen for pirate radio stations today and throughout the weekend!  Turn on your radio anytime today, but especially around twilight and tune between 6,920 – 6,980 kHz. Pirates broadcast on both AM and SSB; you’re bound to hear a few. If you’re brand new to pirate radio listening, you might read my pirate radio primer by clicking here. I will be listening until late in the evening.

Happy Halloween to all! 

Spread the radio love