Category Archives: Pirate Radio

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). 

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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

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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! 

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Pirate Radio: FCC Enforcement focuses on small markets

(Source: Tom Taylor Now)

The FCC’s busting more pirates in smaller markets.

True, the Dallas office issues two Notices of Unlicensed Operation for an 87.9 in Houston, run out of New Beginnings Fellowship Church. But agents from Dallas also found a pirate FM at 93.5 up in the smallish Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo. (That one was also operated out of a church, the Iglesia Bautista Renovacion Ministerio Internacional.) The spectrum cops from Dallas also detected a 95.9 in Port Arthur, Texas. And out in California, agents from the L.A. office ventured up to Oxnard to respond to a complaint about a 99.1 operating from a business. (It was a business run by Maria Gonzalez, who gets the NOUO.) So while the traditional pirate radio hotbeds in South Florida, the New York City area and Boston get attention, there seem to be more complaints and more investigations in smaller markets. If the “PIRATE Act” that passed the House ever makes it through the Senate and is signed into law, the FCC would be required to make twice-yearly sweeps of the five most active areas for pirates. But it seems illegal FMs may simply be popping up in less-likely places. The equipment’s cheap and you might not get caught. Though one pirate in Miami got nabbed doing something novel – operating a pirate station out of a parked RV. (Sure keeps the costs down.)

Click here to read at Tom Taylor Now.

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The Internet and community licenses have changed the London pirate radio scene

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin (K2WNW), for sharing the following article from The New York Times:

London’s Radio Pirates Changed Music. Then Came the Internet.

LONDON — In 1993, the illegal radio broadcasters at Kool FM came up with a plan to keep the regulators from raiding their studios.

In those days, the rooftops of South and East London still bristled with unauthorized antennas. Installed by pirate radio stations on top of public housing blocks — the city’s tallest and least secure buildings — they transmitted sounds rarely heard on the BBC or commercial stations. Kool FM was at the heart of the scene, broadcasting jungle, rave, and drum and bass music from the Hackney district of East London.

All the pirates needed was a key to the building — easy to buy off a building worker or tenant — and a cheap transmitter. But they had a problem. Illegal broadcasting is, well, illegal, and, in Britain, pirates can face up to two years in prison, unlimited fines, bans from appearing on legal stations and equipment seizures.

So the pirates at Kool FM covered their studio door with concrete. To get in, they had to scale the outside of the building, jumping from balcony to balcony, said one of the station’s founders, who declined to give his real name but who broadcasts as Eastman. On a recent afternoon, he was standing outside Kool’s current studio in a warehouse on London’s outskirts. Drum and bass sounds from a D.J. called Papa G. emanated from behind the wall.

The regulators rarely bother them now, he said, and capers like the one he described are scarce. In the early 1990s, Kool “was the in thing,” said Eastman. But he estimated that Kool has lost 90 percent of its advertising revenue since its heyday. “We’re struggling because it’s hard to raise money to keep the station going.” Kool has recently rebranded as Kool London, and started focusing more on broadcasting online, though its shows still go out on the old pirate FM frequency.

Kool’s problems are part of a broader trend: Ofcom, the British communications regulator, estimated there are now just 50 pirate stations in London, down from about 100 a decade ago, and hundreds in the 1990s, when stations were constantly starting up and shutting down. Ofcom considers this good news, because illegal broadcasters could interfere with radio frequencies used by emergency services and air traffic control, a spokesman said.[…]

[T]wo things happened that changed the landscape of underground radio: first, the internet, and second, new licenses that encouraged pirates to reinvent themselves along more official lines.[…]

Continue reading the full article at The New York Times.

Stream Kool London here:

Stream Reprezent 107.3 here:

Stream Rinse FM here:

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