Media Freedom, Pirate Radio & The Digital Revolution.
Originally a blog about running a Pirate Radio Station in Boulder Colorado, USA from early 2000 to early 2005 when the FCC finally shut Boulder Free Radio (KBFR) down. Will continue to post though on the developments of underground radio in all forms, analog and digital (from pirate radio to Podcasting). The world is changing and it's going to be interesting.
We're having a hard time keeping the stream stable for some reason. Moving the output of the studio to the STL works most, but not all, of the time. The system has gotten so complex in some ways (with so many potential points of failure) that I'm just not sure how we CAN make it more stable.
So, for now, it requires a fair amount of babysitting. It's generally easy to fix. Just long into the remote STL computer/transmitter setup using WinVNC (the free program you can use to control a computer remotely) and restart the stream. All the BURG (Boulder Underground Radio Group) DJ's know how to do this so we're, reasonably, on top of it.
However, there are times, especially during the day, when the stream will go down for an hour or two (sometimes more) before someone can get to the STL via the internet (either from home/business or studio) to get it restarted.
Ahhh.. pirate radio. You just never know what to expect. ;-)
There's really a need to expand what's happening with pirate radio. This idea of creating a network of pirate radio stations (1000 over the next 10 years). The only way to do that is to come up with a sort of template that's reasonable and easy to replicate.
First, we need a model of how an individual station runs. What's works? What are the social structures that seem to stand up over time? This includes a primer on how to get started, who to trust, who not to and how to keep your station on the air and safe from FCC interference for as long as possible (if not indefinitely). This includes clear legal advise provided by our legal council in plain English with specific procedures on what to do in any conceivable situtuation.
Second, we need a clearly written technical primer on equipment and setup of a pirate radio station with clear drawings, suggested equipment and suppliers and, potentially, negotiated deals with those equipment suppliers for special pricing t…
I've been thinking about the FCC's recent announcement that they'll be allowing up to 1000 LPFM licenses that have been rotting in the system to go foward and I've been trying to decide, is this good?
I've come to the conclusion that no, it really isn't. Mostly because it's a spin thing... Powell, the FCC chairman, is getting nailed by the public and congress for being too 'big media business friendly'... so he's doing this mostly to counter the (correct) perception that he's anti-local media. When a Scripts newspaper (like the Boulder Camera) does a positive article on pirate radio, as they just did, you know that the FCC's gone too far. This whole LPFM thing is, now at least, a red herring. It's a way of saying: 'hey, we give them a way to get licensed... so the unlicensed guys are just being jerks'.
But, if you think about it, that's just not true. Most of the LPFM license applications that were accepted were from…
CONTACT info: If anyone's actually reading this, which I doubt, feel free to drop me a line sometime. My email is MONK@KBFR.ORG. That's our website as well (www.kbfr.org). Live stream of the station and other fun and interesting info. We've also got a mailing address: 1750 30th Street #565, Boulder, CO. 80301. And the studio line is 720-276-4493. If you leave a voicemail for me the DJ's will make sure I get it.
Trying some new things today. The internet stream to the remote location has been flakey so we put a 100GB hard disk in that machine loaded with music. We can control it remotely via WinVNC (a free program that allows you to bring up the screen of a computer that's far away via the internet). Works great. I can log into the computer from my house, the van, the studio, anywhere with a web browser and internet access, log into the computer, and adjust the playlist. The only thing I can't do is go live on air via mic (yet.. working on that).
Imagine the possibilities! A little box that holds a transmitter, computer, small mixer and a wifi connection device that's picking up a local wifi hot spot along with an antenna on the roof and you've got a complete radio station that you 'hide' almost anywhere that's got 3-4 (yea... three or four) square feet of space, a power outlet, and a nearby wifi connection.
Having a hard time keeping the internet connection/stream up today for some reason. The local DSL guys who give us access aren't doing an overly great job. Right now we're using that stream to move the signal across the internet to a remote site for broadcast and an unreliable internet connection just isn't a good thing to have. Make damn sure you've got reliable internet access if you're going to do reasonably 'safe' pirate radio.
1) NEVER use real names. If the FCC can't get a real legal name to attach an action (fine) to, they don't have any leverage to stop you. In your group, always use alias's, even day to day. This is your best protection against getting shut down long term. You may get shut down short term, but if they don't have a name, you can come back over and over again.
2) If you're running hot (i.e. a transmitter IN the studio you're broadcasting from), eventually, you WILL get a visit from the FCC. DO NOT let them in without a warrant. Regardless of what they say, they CAN NOT come in without that warrant.
3) DO NOT talk with them. Say "I have nothing to say to you, you're on private property, please leave". Even if they have a local cop with them (which is likely) you don't have to let them in and you don't have to talk with them. They are generally very good at drawing you out and getting you …
Got a call from a reporter today that writes for The New Yorker, Wired, etc.. looking for an angle on how to position the big media companies against the loss of a local voice in media (in this case, radio).
Trying to decide if it makes sense to talk with him. One of the great strengths of being a pirate is the underground nature of it. The lower your profile, the better. The higher you get, the better target you are.
That, unfortunately, has to be balanced with the need to get the word out about what we do and why it's important. You have to take the risk of being 'known' to be supported (which also targets you).
Still deciding what makes the most sense. We've been getting alot of media attention lately, and a small film crew is doing a documentary on us that they plan to submit to the Sundance Film Festival.
Tough choice. Good one to have, but tough nonetheless.
How do we run Boulder Free Radio? We use technology to the fullest to create a semi-safe environment to broadcast a 150 watt 'unlicensed' signal to 95.3FM in Boulder, CO.
We work out of several 'fixed' studio locations. We also operate out of a mobile van setup. The van has the ability to 'plug in' to antenna sites setup around Boulder (antenna's in tree's and power cords running from houses/business of listeners who support us).
We also use STL (Studio Transmitter Link) setups that use internet streaming.
The STL consists of a computer, mixer, transmitter and wireless (WiFi) connector that allows us to pick up a high speed internet connection. We log into the www.kbfr.org site and start the 'stream' that comes out of one of our fixed studios. This stream is sent to the mixer, which is hooked into the transmitter, which goes to an antenna (usually in a tree, or on a tripod in the back yard of the STL 'host' site).
Ahhh technology.... The wifi link between the van and the studio transmitter link via an internet stream 'feed' didn't work... we found 6 potential wifi links hours before the show.. come show time.. all of them had disappeared...
The virtues of being mobile. Wifi is wonderful, but it's not ready for prime time just yet.