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Radio World - Pirates

December 11, 2014 12:53AM
This was an interesting article, I don't think I've posted it before.

Do people in the broadcast industry really feel this way about pirates? I've known people in broadcasting who had their own bootleg stations at home as teens and found they liked it so much that they went on to commercial radio - and are still in the business years later!

Usually they don't advocate people taking up pirate radio to get in the business, but they have fond memories of their friends at school hearing them on the air and how cool that was, so they leave pirate radio alone. Could it be that things have moved on in radio today, and radio people are less understanding?


Oct 23

Written by: Dan Slentz
10/23/2014 8:49 PM

For this “Off the Beaten Path,” let’s take a look at something a little different, U.S. pirate radio stations. Now no “respectable broadcaster” would have anything to do with pirate stations. Besides the fact that they’re illegal in the U.S., we know how much interference they can cause and really how potentially threatening they can be for everyone to public services (fire and police) to aircraft communications.

I’m focusing on U.S. pirates — the U.K. and many other countries have their own well-known pirates (like ship-based “Radio Caroline” and others). In some countries, the broadcasting rules and regulations are so different that legit stations actually “float” their frequencies according to interference from the unlicensed broadcasters! In a future Off the Beaten Path, I’ll explore foreign pirate radio.

As I see it, there are two types of U.S. pirate stations. Those who know what they’re doing technically and just want their own “voice,” and the rest who have no regard or knowledge related to the technology. The latter are the mono broadcasters; the guys screaming at 150% modulation and splattering all over the dial; the boneheads who interfere with airline traffic and other forms of communication; the people screaming on a $10 microphones, cussing and trying to pick-up people of the opposite sex (“bootie callin’” as the pirates in Miami scream out). Both are illegal and subject to fines and prosecution.

It’s strange how you can travel from city to city and find no pirates to hearing pirates all over the dial. As a Miami area resident, at any given time I can find three or four pirates within range of my receiver (keeping in mind that there are dozens that may not be within range).

I can honestly say I have yet to find any that fall into the first category above (a “responsible pirate”). I hear songs that scream out about all sorts of “socially unacceptable behavior” and DJs screaming over the music “suggesting” to women that they can call them if they want to go “clubbin’” together, and on-air “personalities” which really make me cringe. All I could say about what I hear is that this is NOT broadcasting but truly “narrowcasting” and really makes me feel that the FCC should step up the fines and the government support stronger punishment. The problem with the fines is that I suspect this is like getting blood from a turnip. From what I’ve read through Radio World to the FCC’s sites, a large number of pirates seem to come out of this southern Florida area (including one pirate whose station interfered with commercial aircraft radio), Southern California and the New York area.

And here’s the link to the information related to this map and the FCC.’s stance on pirates (including fines). Personally, I’d like to see all the fine money collected go back into the now defunct PTFP fund to help noncommercial broadcasters.

Frequently… maybe nearly always … you’ll find that the pirate stations feel they have the right to broadcast under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech rights. This is probably not the right venue to discuss this, though I think it’s safe to say that there isn’t enough spectrum for everyone to have their own piece of the spectrum. Also, there have been opportunities (through LPFM opportunities) for these groups to get licenses. If there is no unassigned spectrum under current technical rules, then there simply is no space. I would suggest that now, certainly more than any other time in the past, anyone who wants “their voice heard” has other opportunities (including the Web) to get their message out. "


Subject Author Views Posted

Radio World - Pirates

Radio Animal 656 December 11, 2014 12:53AM

Re: Radio World - Pirates

BramStoker 332 December 11, 2014 01:14AM

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