Here's an email I wrote to a fellow from a local conservative think tank. He wanted to do an article on KBFR so I wrote up a fairly detailed response. I included the entire email thread just for good measure.

Monk@kbfr.org
--------

Date: Thu, 1 Jan 2004 07:57:15 -0800
From: monk@kbfr.org
To: Jon Caldara
Reply-to: kbfr@kbfr.org
Subject: RE: [KBFR] kbfr article
Jon,

I can appreciate where you're coming from.

Maybe I can answer some of your questions about what KBFR is about in this
email.

We work out of many environments. We have storage space we rent to keep
equipment in. Sometimes we'll work out of a garage somewhere when we have a
live band (or we'll pull the van up to a band practice studio and stream it
live). Primarily it's a van, though (it's a fully outfitted as a radio
station.. you'd be amazed at what you can fit into a van and how little it can
cost compared to a regular station). If you park a van with 150 watt
transmitter on the side of a mountain (think of it as a 2000 foot tower) you'd
be surprised at how far you can reach and how clear the signal can be. We've
identified all the best locations around Boulder (we use TopoMap software to
get the best locations pinpointed, then we find friendly listeners willing
to 'host' an antenna and power source for us.. more on that later in this
email).

We use pro level equipment from a company out of England. One of our two dozen
DJ's is a professional RF engineer and EE. We're very careful to be good radio
citizens and to have a clean non splattering signal. We use low cost
compression equipment and software to get a good sound and are almost
exclusively MP3 based (you can fit about 100,000 songs onto a 300GB Hard
drive.. which is about the size of our library). We do play CD's as well and
have a dual CD player. We tried supporting albums (with turntables) but found
most of what we wanted we could get in MP3 form, so that's mostly what we go
with.

We have internet access via wifi (802.11b or g) connections that we tap into
around town. Boulder is a very wired city with a lot of hot spots we've been
invited to use by our listeners so we can be almost anywhere and have good high
speed internet access (which is how we stream live).

We also have antenna's scattered around town in tree's, in buildings, on roofs,
and we park the van next to these spots and plug in. Again, local
listeners 'donate' this space (often along with a power source we can plug into
so we don't have to have the van running and burning gas). The Van also has a
mobile antenna that allows us to do it from anywhere, but a larger 5/8th wave
or 1/4 wave antenna well placed gives us better range and sound.

We're not overly political as a group (although some of the DJ's are very
political). We range from far left to far right. We only really have three
rules: no one under 18, no drugs and no guns. That last one was for our
libertarian members. You'd also be surprised if you meet some of us. As an
example, one of our members is a dreadlocked 20 something with a well developed
taste for herb, but a registered republican who owns his own business. Our
DJ's age's range from 18 to into our 50's.

Interestingly, we're not looking for revolution. We're looking for public
access to the airwaves. Currently, radio is almost unlistenable. Our Clear
Channel friends have made it into McRadio. No diversity. The same songs over
and over. Pure commercialism (which we don't condemn, but hell, you've GOT to
balance that with local content, music and views.. something sourly missing
from our airwaves today). We are not, as a group, democrats, republicans,
libertarians or anarchists. We are tolerant of all points of view.

Our view is radio spectrum is a rare and limited resource that's been sold off
to corporate America and NPR (an evil institution, at least in my opinion).
Low Power FM (LPFM), which is what we really are, was cut off at the knee's by
NPR and the NAB in 2000 using lies and fear. I had started the process of
getting a license and had ordered the equipment when NPR and the NAB bought a
couple off senators, faked up a CD to scare congress and got the LPFM rules the
FCC had put into place in 1999 to enable LPFM changed to make it impossible to
have a station in any urban area with humans around. For more detailed info,
see the Boulder Weekly story at:

http://www.boulderweekly.com/archive/090601/coverstory.html

More links on our website at www.kbfr.org

I had a choice then, sell the transmitter on ebay or say screw it and put it
up. I put it up. We've been visited by the FCC several times. Interestingly,
we aren't actually doing anything 'illegal'. We are breaking FCC rules, but
it's not something that has a federal enforcement agency with powers to arrest
behind it. The FCC must get a federal or local police officer to enforce a
court order obtained by the FCC through a local or federal judge. FCC agents
have no power to arrest. Each time we're visited we simply move the van (often
we'll leave it in one place for days or even weeks at a time). That resets the
legal process of getting a warrant to seize our equipment (they use an arcane
law now to get a warrant for the equipment, not a person-a maritime law used to
seize pirate ships in the 1800's). The FCC process is: first a warning, then,
get a warrant and take the gear. If you keep moving, each contact is a 'new'
contact and get's only a warning. To date it's worked well.

Several local attorney's have also volunteered their time pro bono to advise us
and, if necessary, defend us (hopefully, as long as we keep on the move, that
won't be necessary). I believe we actually have a better legal team and
resources than the FCC itself right now (they have two lawyers in DC that deal
with radio related legal issues, we've got more than that here on our side in
Boulder, and yet more in other parts of the country waiting to help if needed).

It's time for this. We NEED locally focused radio that creates a platform for
local points of view, local music and local events information.

Our long term goal is to be the nexus of a national network of underground Low
Power FM stations we're calling the Real Public Radio network (RPR). If we can
create a network of 1000 stations over the next 10 years, we become a defacto
entity that has to be dealt with. No intent to be grandious here, but it's not
unlike the USA at it's inception (as I'm sure you're well aware of: the US
was 'illegal' in the eyes of England for some time.. when it became a real
economic force in the world, the existing power structure had no choice but to
recognize it's legal status as a country.. what we're doing is something
similar- our force won't be economic as much as a voice with influence in the
local community). All we really want is to see Low Power FM made fully
legitimate and available in urban areas and opened up so thousands of small
stations can spring up in towns and cities across America, creating a local
voice for the citizens of this country. A platform for local voices of all
types. Something I believe is part of what America is all about.

We believe we can create this RPR network using the internet as our
distribution system similar to how radio networks use satellites today. Each
station can take a 'stream' of content when no one's in the studio, or pick and
choose shows or local music from other parts of the country recorded and
uploaded to a central server or set of distributed servers. I suppose this is
why NPR, specifically, seems so set against LPFM. We could do what they do for
a fraction of the cost and do REAL public radio. Local and relevent to the
listeners. NPR stations nationawide are centralizing as you read this.
Colorado's NPR is all centralized in Denver and all towns in the state hear the
same programming. Nothing local, it's all regional now.

KBFR comes from Boulder Free Radio (BFR) and I put the K on it for the hell of
it when I started. No reason other than that. One guy in a basement messing
around who got pissed off when they changed the rules mid stream and
said 'enough is enough.. let's do something about this'.

in terms of funding, I bought the original equipment (a basic station costs
about $5000 for everything) and, as the group formed (we call it 'BURG'..
Boulder Underground Radio Group) we decided to be self funding. By keeping our
costs low it takes about $25-30 a month per DJ to keep it all going (prepaid
cell phone for a studio line, storage space rent, etc). We're often offered
money by listeners, but we always ask them to, instead, donate to the other
real local radio stations in town (KGNU- a true local/public radio station) and
1190AM (the college station).

We are planning a benefit concert in Jan. Several of the local bands that have
played on air at KBFR have agreed to do the show (they get exposure and air
play.. in exchange) to raise money. Our first benefit concert. People who
come to the show get great music and an opportunity to buy a copy of our CD
(music from the bands that have been on KBFR) or a T-shirt. We don't solicite
donations in any form though. We always give you something for your money
that's solid and of specific value. We do no on air 'please give us money'
campaigns. Our view is, if we take money from non BURG members, we give up a
little of our freedom to do what we do on air. So we always give something in
exchange for money (a t shirt, a CD, a concert).

If this benefit concert goes well, we hope to raise enough money to either fund
the station for several months (up to a year) OR to fund equipment purchases to
start another station in Colorado.

Part of what we're doing is trying to model what an underground station looks
like, how it's run, how it's funded and how it can be replicated by local
groups across the country. Once we get a reasonable and workable model figured
out, and we're getting close, we'll publish it as a how to book (free to
download or for sale in paper form to help raise money).

I hope that answers some of your questions. If you'd still like to talk, I can
give you a call.

Monk
Boulder Free Radio
www.kbfr.org

Quoting Jon Caldara :

> I understand your paranoia.
>
> I run the Independence Institute, a free market think tank, write the
> column for the camera, and work for your enemy, KOA, where I have a late
> night talk show.
>
> I have been hearing about KBFR from word of mouth, so I tuned it in.
> Great programming. When I heard Monty Python, I knew I should write
> something about it. I am not looking to get you busted, don't worry.
> But before I can write anything I need to chat with you, or someone.
> Can we have a phone call? Need to do it soon, or else I will have to
> write about something else.
>
> Do you really work out of a van or is that just an image? How do you
> get your signal so clear? Why do you try to run it legit? Why do you
> have call letters?
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: monk@kbfr.org [mailto:monk@kbfr.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 4:17 PM
> To: Jon Caldara
> Subject: Re: [KBFR] kbfr article
>
> Matt replied and told me you're an independent columnist, so we're cool
> with
> who you are.
>
> We're a bit paranoid, in case you hadn't guessed. Having a federal
> agency
> trying to shut you down for years on end can make you that way.
>
> No tax money supports us. We're completely self supporting (we add up
> expenses
> every month, divid that number by the number of DJ's and everyone put's
> that
> amount, usually around $30, into the pot). We pay for storage space,
> gas for
> the van, internet access, prepaid studio line cellphone, etc. with that
> money.
>
> Did a google search on your phone number and got some interesting hits.
> You
> seem involved in quite a few out of the mainstream things. Tell me a
> little
> more about what you do.
>
> I ask because the last FCC visit we had to our location (we weren't
> there, but
> a friend of the station was) left us with the impression (they said so)
> that
> there was a 'sting' operation in the works to try and catch us. So..
> again,
> we're more than a little paranoid.. hope you understand and don't mind
> us
> vetting you a bit before we talk.
>
> Monk
>
>
> -------
>
> Quoting Jon Caldara :
>
> > I just do a column for them.
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From:
> > To:
> > Cc: ;
> > Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 10:04 AM
> > Subject: Re: [KBFR] kbfr article
> >
> >
> > > Jon,
> > >
> > > Why aren't you sending mail from the daily camera domain?
> > >
> > > Matt, do you know Jon? Does he work for the Camera?
> > >
> > > Monk
> > > ---------
> > >
> > > Quoting sapphire@kbfr.org:
> > >
> > > > er...sorry about that, jon. no offence intended, we just have to
> be
> > soooo
> > > > careful...
> > > >
> > > > -sapphire
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Quoting monk@kbfr.org:
> > > >
> > > > > hmm... OK.
> > > > >
> > > > > Well, what DO you think? Good or bad?
> > > > >
> > > > > I've found with editorial folks that they, mostly, already have
> their
> > > > minds
> > > > >
> > > > > made up.
> > > > >
> > > > > In past lives, I've dealt quite a bit with the press and been
> pretty
> > badly
> > > >
> > > > > misquoted and misrepresented (by small publications and the big
> guys,
> > > > like
> > > > > the
> > > > > Washington Post) so I have a VERY jaded view about the whole
> thing.
> > > > >
> > > > > And, we've found, the more press we get, the more heat it tends
> to
> > bring
> > > > down
> > > > >
> > > > > on us.
> > > > >
> > > > > However, if Matt's going to do a story, and we decided we'd
> support
> > that,
> > > > I
> > > > > see
> > > > > no reason, as long as it's coordinated with Matt, for you to do
> an
> > opinion
> > > >
> > > > > piece. If you've already made up your mind, however, I'd prefer
> just
> > to
> > > > let
> > > > >
> > > > > you do your thing without talking at all. If you really don't
> have a
> > > > fully
> > > > >
> > > > > formed opinion yet, we can talk.
> > > > >
> > > > > Let me know
> > > > >
> > > > > Monk
> > > > > Boulder Free Radio
> > > > >
> > > > > Quoting Jon Caldara :
> > > > >
> > > > > > I have know idea what you are talking about. I write for the
> > editorial
> > > > > > page. Had no idea someone else was looking at kbfr. They can
> only
> > > > > report.
> > > > > > I can give an opinion on it being good or bad. I would still
> like
> > to
> > > > > chat
> > > > > > with someone. 303-279-6536
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Thanks
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Jon
> > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > > > > From:
> > > > > > To: ; "Jon Caldara"
> > > > > > Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2003 4:13 PM
> > > > > > Subject: Re: [KBFR] kbfr article
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > > Jon,
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > Your music editor, Matt, has already contacted us (and
> talked to
> > your
> > > > > > editor on
> > > > > > > it).
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > You might want to coordinate with him first.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > Monk
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > Quoting Jon Caldara :
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > Hi,
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > Jon Caldara here. I have been enjoying your radio
> station. I
> > am
> > > > > > thinking
> > > > > > > > about writing a column on it for the Camera and need to
> chat
> > with
> > > > > > whoever
> > > > > > > > runs it. Please call me at 303-279-6536.
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > Jon



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