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.
Now here's a new one... the transmitter, running at about 150 watts, IF you put it close enough to the WIFI connection running into the computer, can KILL that WIFI connection. The STL (studio Transmitter Link) setup we have sits crammed into one of those rubbermaid porch storage unit things. The one's that fit in a corner.. so it's SMALL inside... not alot of room (but it's waterproof when you put a tarp over it and they're cheap). More room would be good, but we just don't have it.
Carl Nimbus finally isolated it to this.
What do you do then? Sparky, our engineer, says create loops (3, about the size of 4 fingers wide) running into all your gear with any wires. Particularly the antenna into the transmitter (and at the base of the antenna.. which you should do anyway). This acts as a trap for the electromagnetics flying around and helps keep the area cleaner of 'spray'. We haven't implemented it yet, but once we try it.. we'll see if i…
My buddy John Anderson from DIYMedia.org sent this email to me (see my comments following his email)- Just so anyone reading this blog knows... if you email me regarding this blog and it's contents, it's fair game for use in this blog. Email from John Anderson:
Ah, my zealous one. there is too a value in so-called "vanity radio."
Please do remember that not all may aspire to the level of
sophistication that you do in station operation, nor are all willing to
take the risks of such unabashed operations. That does not, however,
make such hit-n-run type stations less valuable.
***They demonstrate the technology and the fact that this form of civil
disobedience is pretty damn easy and can be done by just about
That is valuable. So, it might not reflect a depth and breadth of "the
community," and the size of the audience is (generally) smaller, but
that's the drawbacks of limited operation. Given the choice of all or
nothing, I would …
Leadership & funding. Gotta have it, but, how do you do it in a way that works for a group that is, by nature Anarchistic in nature? And, almost always, volunteer to boot? There's certainly no money to PAY anyone in a pirate operation (at least none that I've ever seen).
We also have the added issue of KGNU, the local public radio station in Boulder. They live off of donations, and are NOT NPR affiliated (which is a most cool thing). IMHO, they're the best public radio station in the country. So, you can't really do fund raising without taking away from them (at least to some degree).
We've tried a few things, but on leadership we've found that the benevolent dictatorship works the best. The key word here is BENEVOLENT. And this really ONLY works with small (a few dozen, at most) people in a group. One person has to be in charge and they MUST listen to and be sensitive to all the other members wants and needs (and responsive to them). If they aren…
So what kind of programming shoud a pirate radio station be putting on? I've heard that 'just music' is a waste. Somewhat true, but if you are putting on 'just music' with no commercials you're doing one hell of a lot to change the paradigm of radio. Commerical free music is something that you can only get by playing your own CD's and MP3's, or by paying $10 a month to a sat. based radio service (and you'll have to shellout $100 of more for new equipment).
So, 'just music' is powerful. Very powerful.
That said, once you've got a station up and running, you've now created an incredible platform for any kind of 'message' you want to put out there. Be it music that people don't normally hear, local musicians that don't normally get any kind of airtime, commentary on a broad range of subjects or news that's not mainstream.
A pirate radio stations got to use it's resources as well as it possibly can. Each st…
Ahhh the van.... We love this thing. An entire radio station in a van. We have a computer, big hard disk (about 1/2 the complete KBFR library), dual CD players, mics and mixer with a transmitter and 1/4 wave magnetic mount (for the roof) antenna running it.
We also have a wireless router that allows us to hook into the internet at several hot spots around Boulder. These are wifi based and we find them by driving around and finding open routers (wardriving) and by using wifi connections that listeners offer us in their homes or businesses (we just park out front and hook in wirelessly to the internet).
When we're hooked into the internet, we can stream, live, to the STL from pretty much anywhere in Boulder.
When we don't have a wifi connection (or feel like REALLY putting out a signal) we simply drive up flagstaff or one of the other roads that lead up into the mountains and fire up the transmitter (150watts). Man.. being 1000 feet above town is like being on on…
If you're running a pirate station, in my opinion, one thing you've just GOT to do is create a platform for local musicans. Getting that PO box set up for bands to mail their CD's to is damned important.
We've also set up a room in the studio (which, in case you're wondering, is a completely legal 'internet' radio station). Several mics, a nice big mixer and a dedicated recording computer. This allows a band to set up and do a live show in the studio (which we record... something we call "Studio Free").
That signal is streamed out over the internet for anyone to listen to.
The broadcast part happens with the STL (a computer, mixer, wireless connection to a nearby 802.11b router in the area) and a transmitter with a 1/4 wave antenna up in a tree (the whole set up sits in an outdoor waterproof box). We log into the STL with WinVNC and simply 'stream' the signal from the 'internet radio station' studio.
Ha! www.DIYMedia.net listed this thing as something worth reading. I don't know if that's true or not, but now that I suspect someone might actually be reading this thing, I guess I'm going to have to write things with the thought in mind you might actually read it.
I'll get you for this John. ;-)
On another note- met with Carl Nimbus (who's acting sort of as the operations/station manager right now) and he's getting the studio part of the operation very nicely automated.
We're now running 5 PC with XP Pro with one machine acting as the primary server. We've got just under a terabyte of disk space (about 980GB) linked up with dedicated drives for the KBFR library (about 300GB) and drives for each DJ and for newly ripped CD's.
We use WinVNC to control the studio remotely (as well as the STL-Stuido Transmitter Link). It's working well, but we're still having some problems with the internet link. We have DSL in the studio and Comc…