This month brings us one of the biggest crimes against nature ever commited, and the effects of the oil spill in the gulf of mexico will be felt for a very long time. Even the corporate shills in the mainstream media won’t be able to cover this up. Democracy Now! has done some very good reports on this situation. Also, check out the youtube link in this edition for the visual record. It really gives you an idea of the scope of this mess. Thanks to Joe Bryak for the link as well as many others he has sent my way. The micro-radio scene is lively as ever, and it just shows you can’t keep a good pirate down. Check out the articles on Pirate Cat Radio and Free Radio Santa Cruz in this edition. Spain is apparently trying to clean up it’s airwaves, but our pirate dj on the scene, Iris DJ, is not expecting change soon. So, if you want to know “why” this is all still happening here in the 21st century, check out “Confessions of a Radio Pirate”, or even better, check out Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. The Berkeley station is still alive and well. We have a large number of young people joining the crew and the sounds are amazing! Tune in to 104..1 FM when you’re in the area, or you can listen anywhere by directing your web browser to http://www.berkeleyliberationradio.net and click on the link that says “stream”.
- Paul Griffin (for the AMPB)
After 13 years as the operator of a pirate radio station out of the Mission, Daniel Roberts, who changed his legal name to "Monkey," has gone legit. Since last spring, the 29-year-old Roberts has been fighting a $10,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission for allegedly broadcasting his Pirate Cat Radio on the FM band without a valid license. Now he's taken the reins of KPDO, a moribund community station in Pescadero (San Mateo County). The signal has been licensed since 2006, but its founder, Celeste Worden, an educator, has moved out of town, leaving the station on autopilot. Roberts, who'd long wanted to acquire a license for Pirate Cat, heard about the largely deserted signal late last year and presented a program plan to Worden, emphasizing public service, local news and education. "She called me one morning at 6," said Roberts, "and said she'd read her tarot cards, and said, 'I'm gonna give you the station.' " Roberts has built a small studio ("all from recycled materials"), put together a DJ staff (half of them students from Pescadero High School) and was scheduled to hit the air May 8. The station is a 100-watter for now, reaching north only as far as San Gregorio. But it's online as well, at piratecatradio.com.
Monkey now splits his time between Pescadero and San Francisco's Pirate Cat Radio Cafe on 21st Street, where a volunteer staff serves a menu of vegan doughnuts and unique lattes (including a delish maple-bacon concoction that drew the attention of Anthony Bourdain and his TV show, "No Reservations"). They also take turns as DJs, spinning wildly eclectic music, with plenty of indie stuff, and offering news and commentary out of an adjacent control room. Because of the FCC action, Pirate Cat Radio airs only online and via podcasting. But, Roberts claims, the station's Internet site draws more than a million hits a month.
Spain Planning a Pirate Radio Crackdown
by Paul Riismandel
For Americans it may be hard to believe that Spain only this year passed a law that gives a new Spanish central radio authority the ability to pursue and shut down unlicensed radio broadcasters. Back in January the Spanish radio industry group AERC complained that 3000 pirate stations are operating in the country and need to be shut down. For its part the government recently claimed to have opened 109 cases against pirate operators since 2007. With the recently passed law the secretary of the Media of the Generalitat says the job will become easier. I know relatively little about radio broadcasting in Spain, although I have often heard that the radio dial is more chaotic than in other European countries. Given these kinds of stats I seriously doubt that the Spanish government is likely to make much of a dent in the country’s number of unlicensed stations. The FCC has been around for seventy-six years and I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t at least 3000 pirate stations operating in the US right now. At best the Commission does a pretty good job of keeping unlicensed operators more underground and less organized by playing a good game of cat and mouse. I reckon Spain has quite a way to go before it can even hope to have that level of success.
Santa Cruz still radio-active
Hey Captain Fred and AMPB. Skidmark here from sunny Santa Cruz where Free Radio Santa Cruz 101fm www.freakradio.org has just passed it's 15th year of unlicensed broadcast. We were inspired to start the station by the likes of Free Radio Berkeley and brave radio warriors like Mbanna Kantako of Human Rights Radio. I've seen alot of changes over the past 15 years and still it continues to amaze me how long it has existed. FRSC continues to operate as a Dj run
collective where programmers who attend meetings decide the programming, pay dues and debate and discuss into the night issues that come and up some can be very contentious and personal and that's one of the things that amazes me to no end how the station has lasted as long as it has. I guess the biggest change I can think of is the increase of Spanish language programs added to the schedule there are now 2 hours of mostly Pacifica Spanish language programs every weekday 10am-12noon. I recently have returned to the station after a hiatus and now do a weekly 3 hour program featuring new and not yet released music also an Al Jazeera English news block and some local news and issues and a Classic rock drive time set to end the show so tune in every Tuesday 3-5pm I also archive my
programs on my blog where you can stream or download the show http://popdefectradio.blogspot.com/
That's about it for now we're keepin it alive and on the air here in Santa Cruz. Cheers, Skidmark Bob
Confessions of a Radio Pirate
Electronic music, as we've lamented time and time again in these pages, is nowhere on the radio spectrum in Chicago. Outside of a record here and there, it hasn't been for years. And while we're stating the obvious, let's add that it ain't coming back any time soon. In fact, there's just about nothing on the radio for people interested in something more than Auto-Tuned pop, paleolithic rock and rabid political talk. This isn't unique to Chicago. Due to the mega-mergers of the last 15 years, it's true everywhere in the United States. The need for a multi-million dollar license hasn't stopped some broadcasters from taking to the airwaves. From the first citizen operators at the dawn of the 20th century to Wolfman Jack and the "border blasters" just across the Rio Grande, unlicensed broadcasting has played a major role in pushing music to the masses in America. It's been even more crucial in other countries. And some are still out there, with all of the romance and mystique of a Rob Roy or Sir Francis Drake on the high seas. This is an excerpt from a lengthy talk with a pirate radio broadcaster who, for understandable reasons, would prefer to remain anonymous for now. His name is not important; what is important is that he's been broadcasting on the West Coast from a homemade radio rig for more than a year. He's faced the agents of the FCC and spent from his own wallet just to broadcast his favorite independent music to his local community.
But with the risks have come rewards. The payoff isn't monetary. Though some of Europe's pirate stations have gone legit, it will never earn him a dime. But it keeps his community energized, informed, and exposes them to some great music.
First, why pirate radio when you could do it legitimately over the internet?
Audience and context. The audience on terrestrial radio is potentially enormous even with a very low power station. You don't need special equipment to listen to the radio. People just need to know the time and the frequency and need to be within so many miles. They can be doing anything they want and can have a huge system or a tiny car radio to listen. And they know I'm down the block, not at a studio in New York.
The airwaves belong to everyone and it was a political decision four or five generations ago to dice it up and sell it off to the highest bidder. This decision had nothing to do with me nor with the majority of citizens - polls have shown consistent support for community-based, low-power radio.
Aren't you running the risk of serious consequences from the government?
I've been busted three times in less than two years. I've heard of stations that use remote locations with recorded music but nobody seems to be able to connect any names to them, so I believe they're just urban legends (pirate radio has a lot of urban legends, which is one of the things that draw us to it). John Draper ("Cap'n Crunch", the very first hacker) ran a pirate radio station out of a van high in the hills above San Francisco, at an observatory. British broadcasters in the rave scene used microwave beams to broadcast to a remote transmitter. That stuff is way beyond me. The reality is that if you broadcast on anything like a regular schedule, in a place where people can hear it, you are going to get caught.
We've discovered a couple of loopholes which is the main reason I'd prefer to remain anonymous in this interview. I expect the FCC to look for our antenna but I don't want to sound like I'm taunting them. The letter of the law is that once they find you, the FCC must send written notice that you are violating the law and a demand that you cease. There are reports they'll try to confiscate your equipment on the spot but it's never gotten that far with us, anyway. I received the first letter about a month into broadcasting and I crapped my pants. I thought I was going to jail. But I'm not the only one involved in our station and someone suggested we should move it to her place. We did. The new location actually improved reception. A month later, the FCC came calling again, sent a written letter notifying my friend that she was violating the law. We moved again. We're now on our seventh location and it's never gone further than receiving a warning letter. Lucky? I have no idea. I'm not a lawyer and this is illegal, and people better acknowledge that risk before they get into this. However, Dave Conway from Little Radio in Los Angeles has written that they encountered this loophole too when they were broadcasting. For the record, we've been "notified" 3 times in 14 months. I repeat: I'm not a lawyer. Whatever risks I take are my own. There are stories of people receiving permanent injunctions. I still might get one. But we have a large team and we feel comfortable playing cat and mouse for the time being.
What does your rig look like? Did you build it or buy it?
We've needed to tailor our rig to local conditions at each broadcasting location. Building the broadcasting rig was my biggest stumbling block - I wanted to do this years before I did. Actually, it's VERY easy. It's NOT expensive, or at least not unreasonably so. You WILL have to do some shopping as few people have a broadcast transmitter or amp lying around, but the equipment is easy to find on the market. The most important thing about a station is reception. The higher you are, the better. There's a reason why radio transmitters are on skyscrapers in major cities. If there are any obstacles, they'll block your reception. So first, before you buy anything, you need a really good location (and as the FCC starts hunting you, more than one). At the heart of my rig is a simple MacBook Pro laptop. I play MP3s with iTunes. A mixer enables us to switch to a Technics 1200 MK2 for vinyl and the microphone. It depends on your style of music, if it's mostly on MP3 or if you want to take the time to rip CDs. To take the mystique out of it, I can break down our rig into three sections:
The Media Players: This is your laptop, CD player, turntables, microphone. This is the fun stuff that everyone that loves music has. You don't need special connections.
The Enablers: You need a mixer even if you're broadcasting from a laptop. As with everything: the cheaper and lighter, the better. The mixer plugs into a compressor limiter. This is great for making a professional broadcast. Without it, you'll sound like a pair of kids talking on walkie talkies.
The Broadcasters: Your compressor feeds into the transmitter, which feeds into the antenna. The power of your signal depends a lot on the location of your antenna. If you score a nice 30 watt micro-transmitter, you're probably all set. If you have a lower watt transmitter, then you can use a 5/7 watt amp to boost the signal. You can begin with something as tiny as a 1 watt transmitter and use the amp to boost it. I started with the cheapest equipment possible and upgraded as I learned. The transmitter is fed by a length of co-ax cable to the antenna. We use a 5/8-wave vertical antenna. They're a couple of hundred bucks new. The longer your antenna, the better your signal. The higher your antenna, the better the signal. The higher your elevation, the better the signal. Long cables will sometimes diffuse the signal, so I try to keep the transmitter as close as possible to the antenna and run less cable. For your frequency, you want something that will minimize the spillover of your signal bleeding into licensed stations but also their signal spilling over into yours. Most free radio stations that I know about broadcast in the high 80s. 88 to 92 MHz FM is the space reserved for "non-commercial radio" which is NPR and churches. They'll drop a dime on you as quickly as anyone, but that's where most free radio stations I've heard of rest.
I asked this in the beginning, but... why take the risk?
The music that I like isn't broadcast on the radio. I've read a lot about the history of radio since I started this. In the "old days" there were so many choices. Even if they were mostly bad, they weren't all bad. Today it's all bad. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a disaster for radio as it allowed a handful of companies to gobble up every station out there and concentrated the entire broadcasting dial between five or six very powerful entities. They ate so many stations and now they're all going bankrupt because nobody likes it. Who loves a radio station anymore? It's background noise. If you are in a community that isn't being served by what's on radio - if you live anywhere in the US and like anything other than right-wing rage and commercial music, then this applies to you - you can do this. You don't have to pay for XM/Sirius to hear your favorite local artist. I think people can take this into their own hands and make a movement. Though not affiliated, the subject of this article recommends anyone interested in more details about free radio to visit the website of what is probably the longest running free radio station in the United States, Free Radio Berkeley, at freeradio.org.
AMPB LINKS ON THE WEB
Favorite download sites
(courtesy of Skidmark Bob)
India's copyright bill gets it right
video of spill/gusher
A Cheap, Portable Wound-Healing Device
FCC Adviser Advocates State-run Propaganda to Counter Alternative Media
“We Were Told to Just Shoot People, and the Officers Would Take Care of Us”
How to Create a Diabetes Plague
Is the FCC's National Broadband Plan a Threat to Homeland Security?
Sex, Lies and Oil Spills
Whose Revolution is this?
A THOUGHT FOR MOTHER'S DAY
Slick Operator: The BP I've known too well
Take the time to watch this video: http://www.miauk.com/
Plastic from Algae: The First Step Toward a Fish-Friendly Gyre?
Google admits Street View cars collected Wi-Fi data
CAPTAIN FRED’S WORLD CRUISE #96
(download from radio4all.net or archive.org)
Internacional - Brazilian Girls
Born Free - M.I.A.
Superfast Jellyfish - Gorillaz
El Relampago - The Chieftains
Mifohaza - Razia Said
Peligro - Manu Chao
Singapore - Tom Waits
Cumbia Del Caribe - Fruko & Orquesta
Tamagbondorsu - Refugee All-Stars
Spaceships Over Haiti - Daniel Bernard Roumain
Weekend Irish - Barleyjuice
Say Ladeo - Bobby McFerrin
It's Only Paper - Ozomatli
Measure By Measure - DJ Spooky
Running - Gil Scott-Heron
The Moon and the Sky - Sade
Droub Al Lil - Azzddine
Good Soldier - Flobots
21 Guns - American Idiot Cast
Walk Of Shame - Woodleg Odd
RECORD CHART FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 15, 2010
# TITLE - ARTIST - LABEL
1 PLASTIC BEACH GORILLAZ EMI
2 ZEBU NATION RAZIA CUMBANCHA
3 POWER UP THE PLANET VARIOUS ARTISTS PLANETWIZE
4 THE ROUGH GUIDE TO ARABIC LOUNGE WORLD MUSIC NET
5 GOD'S FAVORITE BAND ASYLUM STREET SPANKERS YELLOW DOG
6 SURVIVAL STORY FLOBOTS UNIVERSAL
7 PUTUMAYO PRESENTS LATIN PARTY PUTUMAYO
8 I'M NEW HERE GIL SCOTT-HERON XL
9 VOCABULARIES BOBBY MCFERRIN UNIVERSAL
10 FIRE AWAY OZOMATLI MERCER STREET
11 30 YEARS OUTSIDE THE BOX YO-YO MA SONY
12 IMAGINARY TELEVISION GRAHAM PARKER BLOODSHOT
13 GLITTER AND DOOM LIVE TOM WAITS ANTI
14 WOODBOX BEATS & BALLADRY D. B. ROUMAIN THIRSTY EAR
15 CHANGES DON CARLOS DON CARLOS MUSIC
16 RISE & SHINE SIERRA LEONE'S REFUGEE ALL STARS CUMBANCHA
17 LIVE AT MAUCH CHUNK WAILIN’ JENNYS RED HOUSE
18 THE ROUGH GUIDE TO AFRICAN STREET PARTY WORLD MUSIC NET
19 THE RUMBA FOUNDATION JESSE COOK E1
20 ONE STEP AHEAD WOODLEG ODD WOODLEG ODD
21 SAN PATRICIO THE CHIEFTAINS BLACKROCK
22 BAIONARENA MANU CHAO NACIONAL
23 SOLDIER OF LOVE SADE SONY
24 HANK WILLIAMS DIED... JOE SWANK & THE ZEN PIRATES (INDY)
25 COMING BACK FOR YOU PRESSURE RYMSHOT
26 LIVE SEARSON (SELF PRODUCED)
27 KARAM KIMI DJABATE CUMBANCHA
28 THAT'S ALL I NEED ANDRE WILLIAMS BLOODSHOT
29 ...NORTHERN LIGHTS WHITE STRIPES THIRD MAN
30 ELECT THE DEAD SYMPHONY SERJ TANKIAN REPRISE
31 BONNY PRINCE BARLEY BARLEYJUICE RYF RECORDS
32 BUSHROCK 10 FT. GANJA PLANT ROIR
33 COMMON PROSPERITY PREZIDENT BROWN TOMORROW'S CHILDREN
34 PUTUMAYO PRESENTS SOUTH AFRICA PUTUMAYO
35 MIDNIGHT AT THE MOVIES JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE BLOODSHOT
36 ARVO PART - PORTRAIT ANGELE DUBEAU ANALEKTA
37 IGNORE THE IGNORANT THE CRIBS WARNER BROS.
38 DREAMIN' MAN LIVE NEIL YOUNG REPRISE
39 THE SECRET SONG DJ SPOOKY THIRSTY EAR
40 BORN FREE (SINGLE) M.I.A. XL
NEW ADDS (THANKS TO ALL OF THE RADIO PROMO FOLKS WHO SEND US STUFF):
THE RUNAWAY BUNNY VARIOUS ARTISTS SONY
SEA OF COWARDS THE DEAD WEATHER THIRD MAN
ON APPROACH EVEREST VAPOR
BROTHERS THE BLACK KEYS NONESUCH
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