|This page is in response to the article about us in the press Hypocrite|
Lets see where to begin.
A couple weeks ago a reporter/music critic emailed me saying he was doing a story on pirate radio and would like to interview me because he liked what I was doing. I wrote him back. These aren't actual qoutes unless noted but I will give you the general feel for our corespondence.
First a couple questions
Do you actually listen to my station?
What music was I playing?
What accent do my radio spots use?
You can answer truthfully it never hurts to be honest.
I was just trying to get a general idea of who he was.
"I don't grovel or beg for interviews I will do it with or without you." Then he went on to answer my questions in short snide comments.
"When I say I like what you are doing I'm referring to the pirate movement in general" Blah Blah Blah.....
I wasn't impressed with the way he answered my questions as he was just throwing something down.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to tell my story but I will have to decline.
I will ask that you do not mention radio887 or 88.7 in your article. What I am doing is illegal and to draw unneeded attention would be like slitting my own throat. I would like to stay on the air for quite awhile and believe my listeners would like it also. Can you email me when the article comes out? I would like to read it."
I didn't hear back for a couple weeks.
I will give you one last chance to answer my questions. As a reporter it's my duty to get both sides of a story. We can do an email interview it can be anonymous. I can put something like "a DJ said".
I wrote back
"Thank you again for the opportuniy to tell my story. Again I will ask that you not mention Radio887 or 88.7 FM in your story.
I do this strictly on a hobby basis. I dont have any anti establishment views that I am pushing on people. I don't subscribe to your paper or cable TV that is about as anti establishment as I get. If the purpose of your story is to stir up sh*t between commercial stations and the pirates then you are not going to be helping their cause. Again I will ask that you not mention Radio887 or 88.7 FM in your story."
On March 30th this is the story that hit the front page.
ECLECTIC, FREE AND ILLEGAL
Published on March 30, 2002
© 2002- The Press Democrat
When a local radio station kicks off the day with a heady dose of house music and a Kid Rock remix in the morning, Miles Davis and trance music in the afternoon and skate rock, Hendrix and nerd pop in the evening, there can be only one culprit: pirate radio.
Commandeering the FM radio dial at 88.7, Free Radio Santa Rosa is thumbing its nose at corporate radio and the Federal Communications Commission with the motto, ``We will be running a station that will give you what you want to hear.''
It isn't the first time a pirate station has dared to broadcast in the North Bay, but it may be the best time since the late 1970s, when the FCC stopped licensing low-wattage renegade stations under 100 watts.
In January 2000, then-FCC Director William Kennard, a former college radio DJ, led an FCC vote to loosen regulations and allow the licensing of low-power microradio stations that broadcast 10- to 100-watt signals in rural regions outside metropolitan areas such as the Bay Area. More than 3,000 applications poured in, representing everyone from religious fundamentalists and environmentalists to bluegrass aficionados and gospel musicians.
Pirates banned for a time
So far, only a handful of licensed low-power stations are up and running. That's because the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio responded by lobbying Congress to pass a law requiring that FM frequencies be separated by at least three bandwidths to prevent interference. Furthermore, the law banned former pirate radio operators from being licensed under the FCC.
But in February, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled 2-1 that banning former radio pirates was an unjustified restriction of free speech. More importantly, a federal court case involving a gospel station in Hartford, Conn., is testing the FCC regulation restricting microradio in metropolitan areas.
The voice behind Free Radio Santa Rosa, who identified himself only as ``Muddy Udders,'' declined an interview request, writing in an e-mail: ``What I am doing is illegal and to draw unneeded attention would be like slitting my own throat. I would like to stay on the air for quite awhile and believe my listeners would like it also.''
His Web site, which features skull-and-crossbones wallpaper at www.geocities.com/radio_887, proclaims, ``Don't let (corporate radio) fool you into thinking you picked the song that you requested. It was on the list and would have been played whether or not you called in. So check out my site. Tune me in and relax knowing you truly have a voice in what you hear.''
Marred by spotty reception, Free Radio Santa Rosa rarely broadcasts outside the city limits. Most pirate radio stations operate on low-tech radio ``kits,'' using small transmitters that can be placed on a roof or in a tall tree.
FCC standing firm
Despite recent deregulation and court appeals, the FCC says it's not backing down in its enforcement.
``The policy is the same as it's been since 1934. You have to have a license to broadcast on the airwaves,'' said FCC spokesman David Fiske in Washington.
``For every one hypothetical situation you can describe that might say restricting pirate radio is absurd, I can also point to three or four cases where pirate radios with inferior equipment veered into the upper end of the FM band and interfered with air traffic control operations.''
An FCC enforcement bureau official, who agreed to speak on condition his name be withheld, said the bureau is constantly on the watch for unlicensed stations. Enforcement officers work off tips from the public and commercial broadcasters.
Using ``electronic means'' to track down pirate radio stations, FCC officials first issue a warning and give operators a chance to comply by voluntarily shutting down. A first offense can bring a fine of up to $11,000 and repeated offenses can bring fines of up to $100,000, confiscation of equipment and even imprisonment.
Over the past decade, corporation-owned radio stations have dominated the airwaves. The top 25 radio groups control 2,710 stations, nearly 25 percent of the commercial radio market. After recent acquisitions of rivals Jacor and AMFM, Clear Channel is the largest group, with 1,202 stations. In comparison, there are an estimated several hundred pirate stations nationwide.
Over the past several years in Sonoma County, two companies have taken over seven radio stations. Maverick Media owns KXFX rock station, KSRO news/talk radio, KMGG oldies station and KFGY country. Virginia-based Sinclair recently bought KRSH, a folk/blues station, KSXY pop radio and Exitos Latin radio.
Free Radio Berkeley pioneer Stephen Dunifer, who was forced to quit broadcasting in 1989 because of an FCC court injunction, prefers the term ``free-speech activist'' over ``radio pirate.''
``The real pirates are the corporations,'' he said. ``They're the ones essentially who have stolen the airways from the people in this country.''
``It's our way of repossessing something that's been stolen and putting it to much better use than some A&R Top 40 schlock format,'' Dunifer said.
Listening to Free Radio Santa Rosa, it's clear from the eclectic mix of songs that the station falls outside of tightly defined corporate radio niches like ``classic rock'' or ``smooth jazz,'' which are dictated largely by advertising strategy. But it's more than just an outlet for a hi-fi record junkie to spin his own collection.
Much more than music
In addition to music, it's a forum for satire and parody. A recent mock radio commercial for ``Taint Cola'' includes an obscene tutorial skit that involves a teacher instructing a pupil how to have sex with his girlfriend. It's a juvenile gag you won't hear on any local stations. But it's not too perverse for a program like Howard Stern's morning show.
``The (Free Radio Santa Rosa) format is so eclectic that I don't know if there should be a concern from commercial radio,'' said KRSH program director and DJ Bill Bowker, who years ago considered creating a low-power microstation when he was looking to diversify. ``Although the big corporate guys always worry about stuff like that and try to shut down creativity.''
The National Association of Broadcasters says it's a matter of potential signal interference rather than competition for listeners and advertising dollars.
``They were not going to be commercial stations to begin with -- they weren't allowed to sell spots so it wasn't an issue of competition,'' said association Senior Vice President Dennis Wharton. ``There might be a few listeners who sample it, but I don't think there's going to be a mass defection to low-power radio. Perhaps I'll be proven wrong.''
Ok Ok, What part of unneeded attention does this guy not understand? Front page! I hope you get a good bonus for getting out of the entertainment section!
What part of Please don't mention Radio887 or 88.7 FM does this guy not understand? You could have just said a Free Radio Santa Rosa you didn't have to spell it all out for them. For someone who likes what I'm doing you sure don't know how to show it.
I want to thank everyone for their emails and the outpouring of support that has come from this.
I want to thank you John Beck for the traffic that you sent to my site. Geocities actually shut it down for awhile because of too much traffic. I would have liked it if you would have done it differently but no sense crying over spilt milk. Pull up the boot straps and move on.
If any local stations want an interview you know where to reach me.
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