Friday, November 30, 2012

Mini Documentary on Free Radio Berkeley

Founded on April 11, 1993 as a Free Speech voice challenging the regulatory structure and power of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Free Radio Berkeley has been engaged in an ongoing legal battle with the FCC. Until it was silenced by a court injunction in June 1998, Free Radio Berkeley was broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 104.1 FM with 50 watts of power as the alternative voice for the greater Berkeley/Oakland area. The original Free Speech mission to provide community news, discussions and interviews, information, a wide range of music, and more has now been taken up by Berkeley Liberation Radio.

Free Radio Berkeley mini-documentary

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fuck NPR

I expect this shit from the NAB regrading Low Power FM licenses....but NPR?

"Both NPR and the NAB maintain their opposition somewhat paradoxically, given the fact that they appear perfectly fine with second adjacent waivers for translator stations. The only difference between translators and LPFM stations is who owns and programs them (and they’re not likely to be NAB or NPR affiliates)."

What fucking assholes.

Everyone:  Please, pull your contributions to these lying through their teeth sacks of shit.  NPR is trying to shut down REAL community radio using the exact same methods as Clear Channel and all the others.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pirate Radio on Reddit

If you use Reddit, you know this little fellow well.  I did a crappy job of making him a pirate (that's MY eyepatch... arrrggg)...

Did you know there is a Pirate Radio sub reddit?  Yep.

I'm one of the mods.  It's been sorta dead, so, let's spice it up shall we?  Check it out, add some piratey stuff to it, make it your own.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FCC Bust Video (Austin)

GREAT video of an FCC bust.

The agent talks, in detail, on what the FCC does and how it works.  Listen carefully to everything the agent tells you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

FUCK yea!  (Thanks to Chris Robertson for the link)

THIS is a big deal

The highest court in the land refused to assess the constitutionality of U.S. federal law that prohibits broadcasted obscenities. However, it did deal FCC efforts a blow by finding it illegal for the FCC to fine TV broadcaster who air obscenity or nudity during daytime hours.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The NAB, asshats that they are, lies yet again.

Well shit.

The NAB is up to their old tricks.  They LIED about 2nd adjacent interference 10 years ago to stop LPFM, and they're doing it again.

Don't fall for it again FCC.  Their 'concerns' were shown to be total bullshit by years of testing and deep engineering expertise that was not biased.  Stick to the facts and ignore the asshat NAB bullshit.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

HERE'S an oldie but a goodie.  Stumbled across this article about us from The Boulder Weekly, several years ago- maybe 2002, 2003 ish:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Frequency search tools

Nice tools for frequency searches:

So you want to be an LPFM station operator?
Michi Eyre at REC Networks has a few (free) tools that could be of big help.
In the wake of recent FCC decisions, REC has been updating and upgrading its radio broadcast facility information tools.
Most important, perhaps, is the LPFM Channel/Point Viewer. It makes quick work of pinpointing what frequencies may be available and where they are available, sans interference considerations, in a particular market. The Google maps integration makes it fun to simply “look around.” It carries info on the top 150 markets.
Also available is the REC LPFM Search tool for drilling down with greater technical specifications and the more commercial (and more detailed) REC Broadcast Query tool.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Now this is a big deal for the radio world.  Maybe, just maybe, we'll get some decent radio stations on the air again.  

Start your own low power FM station!

March 19, 2012

We did it! Today the FCC announced the biggest victory for community radio since we led the fight to pass the Local Community Radio Act more than a year ago. The FCC will dismiss thousands of applications for translators (repeater stations) to clear the airwaves for community radio. Across the country, hundreds of channels that would have gone to giant networks will now be preserved for our communities to use. This victory would not have happened without years of effective advocacy from Prometheus and grassroots activists. And we couldn't have done it without you. Thank you! (Scroll down to read our full press release.)

Today's announcement will help hundreds of local groups to build their own community radio stations for the first time. But our work isn't over. We still have another fight ahead at the FCC, and we are leading a grassroots campaign to help community groups apply for radio licenses and build their stations. Today's win creates a historic opportunity, but to take advantage of it, we need your help.

Will you donate today to help us continue our work?


Electromagnetically yours,


Stephanie Thaw (and the rest of the Prometheus staff collective)


P.O. Box 42158
Philadelphia, PA 19101
United States
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Opt out of all future mailings Prometheus mailings forever.
For Immediate Release


FCC Decision Opens Radio Airwaves for Communities Nationwide
New rules create opportunities for hundreds of new community radio stations

March 19, 2012

Washington, DC-- In a victory for communities nationwide, today the Federal Communications Commission announced that the agency will open the airwaves for community radio. To make room for a new wave of local stations, the FCC will clear a backlog of over six thousand pending applications for FM translators, which are repeater stations that rebroadcast distant radio stations. The decision will allow for the first new urban community radio stations in decades.

"Today the FCC has opened the door for communities to use their own local airwaves, and that will be transformative," said Brandy Doyle, Policy Director for the Prometheus Radio Project. "We commend the Commission staff for the care and diligence they have shown. We also wish to thank Chairman Genachowski, Commissioner McDowell, and particularly Commissioner Clyburn and her hardworking staff for their efforts on behalf of communities."

The announcement concludes the first hurdle in implementing the Local Community Radio Act, passed by Congress in 2010 after a decade-long grassroots campaign. The FCC is on track to accept applications for new Low Power FM (LPFM) stations nationwide as early as Fall 2012. Community groups are gearing up to apply for the licenses, which will be available only to locally-based non-profit organizations.

“For our migrant communities here in Arizona, community radio would give a voice to people who rarely get to speak for ourselves in the media,” said Carlos Garcia, Lead Organizer with Puente Arizona. "Anti-immigrant voices dominate the airwaves. Community radio can help us tell our own stories, share news and information, and get organized."

Broadcast radio remains one of the most accessible means of communication in the US, with 90% of Americans listening at least once a week.

"Radio is a great tool for reaching working people - it's free to listen, easy to produce, and people can often tune in on the job or while doing housework," said Milena Velis, Media Organizer and Educator with Philadelphia-based Media Mobilizing Project. “In Pennsylvania, we're facing big challenges, from education cuts to rural poverty to environmentally destructive shale drilling. We see community radio as a way to bring people together and create solutions from the ground up."

Low power community stations are non-commercial and cost as little as $10,000 to launch, putting these stations within reach of many communities who have limited access to other media outlets.

Hundreds of pending translator applications will be dismissed in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and dozens of other cities, in compliance with the rules released today. The FCC plan will preserve channels by dismissing translator applications that would preclude future community radio stations in certain markets where the FCC has determined that space for community radio will be scarce.

“We are pleased that the FCC has taken such a careful approach to preserving channels for community radio,” said Doyle. “And we’re particularly glad that the FCC has taken our recommendation to ensure that the frequencies set aside are in populated areas, where they are needed. This will make a big difference in San Antonio, Sacramento, and 12 other mid-sized markets, where stations too far from the city would have reached only tumbleweeds or farmland."

The FCC had stopped processing the pending applications in response to a 2005 petition filed by Prometheus and Media Access Project. The new processing plan includes several changes proposed by Prometheus to improve the outlook for community radio.

Also today, the FCC released a set of proposed rules for new community radio stations, asking for public comment on the proposals. That release begins the final rulemaking procedure which must be completed before the agency can accept applications for new stations.

The Prometheus Radio Project has been the leading advocate for low power community radio since 1998. Prometheus led a decade-long grassroots campaign to pass the bipartisan Local Community Radio Act, succeeding in 2010. Over its history, Prometheus has supported hundreds of communities in licensing, building, and operating their own radio stations.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A multiyear pirate radio journey

If you want to see how Boulder Free Radio was run (KBFR), go to this blog:
and start reading the archives starting with 2002 through 2005 (the station shut down Jan. 11th, 2006).  You'll get a big old bucketfull of 'how to' when it comes to creating a pirate station, creating community, recruiting, operations, politics and technology used (which, interestingly, hasn't change much at all in the last 7 years since it was shut down).

How to create a pirate radio station for under $5000

I recently was asked how to do this, with more detail, on Reddit. Here's what I put there (with some additional infos):

Transmitter, dipole antenna and cable $3000 Package here:

Mast assembly $150 (base and poles):
Insulated pivot base assembly
Military antenna mast support poles (4ft each X 12):

Guy-wire and stakes (home depot): $50

Laptop with USB Mixer and 2 mics
Laptop (any will do): $400

Behringer 1204BUSB Mixer $200

2 Shure SM57 Mics with Stands (but any mics will do): $275

This is all you need to get going.
Total: $4,075

If you want a really small antenna for stealth, go with this 1/4 wave $60:

The brain dead way to tune your 1/4 wave antenna is here:

I have more gear (which is why I said $7800 on the Reddit post) but this is all you need to get on the air.

Remember that it's PIRATE radio.... against FCC regulations. In NJ and Florida it's against the law, but in the rest of the country, it's just breaking an FCC regulations.

The FCC has an enforcement branch, but they don't have alot of manpower. What they usually do is give you a warning and if you turn if off, they go away. If you keep getting busted by them though, you'll eventually get a fine (up to $11,000), but, they have no court to try you in other than the existing court system so they have to get one of their overworked lawyers to convince a court to force you to pay which they hate, so, they try everything possible to get you to just turn it off.

We ran Boulder Free Radio (KBFR) for 5 years before we stopped.

Here's a blog I did on my exploits:

The story of KBFR:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Forger

Every so often you see a TED video that really hits home.  This one did that for me.  It's the story of a forger told by his daughter.   This isn't just any forger.  This is a forger with a purpose.

I sometimes get asked why I do pirate radio.  Why take the risk.  Why bother.  It's not the same as this story, but it's along the same lines.

It's 14 minutes and worth every moment of your time.  In French (subtitled).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pirate Radio USA (Documentary)

Great little documentary on Pirate Radio in the USA.  On Hulu.

The Great Pirates

The Great Pirates

by Flemming Funch, 7 December 1994.In his book "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth", in the chapter "Origins of Specialization", Buckminster Fuller tells the story about what he calls "The Great Pirates". This is my greatly shortened version of it:

Some hundreds of years ago the technology of ship building advanced so that it became practical to travel the oceans for extended periods of time. Thus whole new territories were opened to exploration and possible domination.

It became clear that it was impractical to assume that the law and order of the land could be applied to the sea. Thus the oceans became a zone of lawlessness and a battleground for whomever chose to enter the arena. It also became clear that those who fared best were those who mastered all the elements of survival at sea and who did their business under the veil of secrecy. It is those who mastered this game that we can call The Great Pirates.

A Great Pirate succeeded because of his comprehensive command of a whole set of different disciplines. He had a high proficiency in dealing with celestial navigation, the sea, the storms, the ship, the men, economics, biology, geography, history, and science. The better the Great Pirate could understand and anticipate the whole scene, the better he would do.

Great Pirates would travel, bargain, plunder, plan, negotiate, battle, and much more. He would use the science of ship building to amass a fleet, he would use his people skills to manage his crew and to negotiate with representatives of far away lands. He would do his activities out of sight of people on land and of his competitors.

A Great Pirate would naturally want to maintain his position, and he had to sleep once in a while. He therefore at first surrounded himself with dull-witted but loyal men of muscle. Only he himself planned and coordinated his operations, and his men simply did what they were told. However, when the Great Pirate expanded his operations it became clear that he needed something more than that.

The Great Pirate invented the brilliant scheme of specialization. It is both the way to expand his empire with skilled assistance and at the same time the insurance that only HE will ever know the full picture of what is going on.

The Great Pirates started to encourage and employ people of great skill in specialized areas. There might be, for example, a greatly skilled and experienced Navigator. And there might be a master Weapon Builder, an accomplished Master Historian, a Politician, a Ship's Captain, a General, and so forth.

Each of those people were cultivated to a high level of skill. But also, it was made clear to each one that they had better stay within their specific field, or they would lose their head.

The Great Pirate himself would be the ONLY person who knew the whole picture. He would know the plan, he would know where ships would go and why, he would know what they would find, who they would meet, he would know what to trade and what to steal, he would know who to trust and who not to. None of his people would ever be allowed near the full picture, and none of them could therefore possibly replace him. And thus his position was safe from any coup by those close to him. He always kept the true full picture in utmost secrecy and kept the skills and knowledge of all his people perpetually compartmentalized.

Through the ingenious scheme of specialization and compartmentalization of knowledge, the Great Pirates were able to expand their business immensely. They were able to expand their influence into different lands through carefully chosen and educated front people. They would chose local strong men in different territories, supply them with what they needed to assume power, educate them to present a proper public facade, but never giving them the knowledge of all the pieces in the game. The local strong man might be maneuvered into a position of King, assumed by his people to be the utmost authority, but in essence simply being another of the specialized agents of the hidden Great Pirates. The Great Pirate would naturally also cultivate agents in the fields of religion, education, science, military, banking, and so forth, and would naturally be able to play them out against each other if any one of them ever got ambitious beyond his assigned role.

The Great Pirate knew the world was round when everybody else were kept in the belief that it was flat. He knew about grand logistical schemes, he knew about international exchange media and trade balancing, and much more. He was the only one who saw the whole picture of the planet and its resources, and was therefore able to play his game totally unnoticed by the vast majority of the population of the planet. All through the magic of specialization ...

It goes without saying that specialization today has become so much part of our society that most people take it for granted. It is perfectly acceptable to base one's whole life and career on a small subsection of a certain very specific subject. It is perfectly acceptable that people are so specialized that most other people have no idea what they are talking about.

I find it a VERY enlightening view that this can be regarded as a scheme for keeping people in ignorance so that they can't do anything about the whole situation, and they can't talk with each other. Everybody's busy with their little chunk of the world, so busy that they don't notice what is really going on.

Time has come to move beyond this, and this time make the knowledge of whole systems and the interactions between different fields available to greater numbers of people.
- Flemming

-The lesson?  EVERYONE should become a Great Pirate at whatever they do. (PirateMonk)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A new pirate radio station is born.. somewhere in Colorado

Got the Broadcast Warehouse 150w transmitter setup

And hooked up to the Dipole antenna (yea I know.. it's inside... gotta test it first) and man, this thing rocks.  Full 150w and ZERO reflection (i.e. a nice cool feedback loop to the transmitter and a clean signal).

Why the hell didn't I get one of these antenna's sooner?

What I love about this antenna is it's broadband.  NO tuning.  Just hit the buttons on your transmitter to move around the dial and it just works.  This makes setting up a pirate station, literally, a 5 minute job (most of the time is spent getting the antenna tuned just right).  Of course, getting that thing onto a mast or bolted high up a tree is still gonna be work, but we'll paint it brown and green first.  :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Proper FM antenna tuning.. the simple brain dead way

Every wonder how to TUNE that antenna for your pirate radio station to 89.5 or 103.9 (or whatever frequency you can find that's open)?  Here's a simple and highly effective formula I've used many times.  Works great.

Using a properly tuned antenna is essential for micropower broadcasting on the FM band. An antenna that is not properly tuned will not pass along your transmitter's power as efficiently as it could - and this leads to a general degradation of signal coverage.

Fortunately, calculating the precise length of your antenna is pretty easy to do if you follow these three steps. Get a calculator to help with the math:

1. To determine the wavelength of your signal in inches, divide 11811 by your transmitter's frequency in megahertz (MHz). 

2. Multiply the answer from #1 by the fraction of wavelength of your antenna's design (most antennas are 1/2 (.5) or 1/4 (.25)  wave; the popular Comet is a 5/8 (.625) wave antenna). 

3. The answer from #2 is the length of your antenna in inches. 

Try to fine-tune your antenna using a properly-calibrated SWR meter for maximum antenna efficiency.  A perfect SWR match is 1:1; in the real world, you should be satisfied with any SWR of 1.5:1 or less.  Radio shack has SWR meters, with instructions.

You can do it without the SWR meter though.  I have, many times, and the formula above works beautifully.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Looking for a frequency to set up your FM pirate station on? Here's a great little tool. Just put in your zip, hit go, then click on the 'find unused frequencies' link.
Find Unused FM Frequencies in Your Area. Do you have a satellite radio or MP3 player that transmits sound to your car radio or home stereo? 
The KBFR (Boulder Free Radio) Van!

Great overall post on how to do a pirate station from the Wired wiki.

The best transmitter for pirate radio.

We ran several of these for years in Boulder. We put them in boxes that sat in back yards, garages and attics. Pretty extreme conditions. 100+ degree in the summer and below freezing in the winter and they just kept on running. There are still 2 being used to this day by area pirates, 12 years and countless online hours later. It's not cheap ($2325) but it's a pro setup. And it's cheaper now than it was 12 years ago (they were $3,000 then).
The TX150 is a top specification FCC certified & RTTE/CE compliant FM broadcast transmitter.

The best antenna for pirate radio. The Comet CFM95 SL 5/8 Wave FM antenna.

I've used dozens of these over the years and because they're cheap, tough and are extemely easy to tune to whatever frequency you find. Under $100. Also, the seller (Progressive Concepts) is one of the best places to buy equipment in the US. Get your 50Ohm cable here to.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome to my blog!  I'll be writing about media and radio, mostly radio, mostly underground and pirate radio, but some day's like going to be whatever I feel like writing.  Stay tuned!