The Denver Free Radio folks where up for about three days before getting busted by the FCC running a little thirty watt transmitter. It amazes me that the FCC has the time and energy to even bother with this. But, if you think about it, it makes sense.

The first bust is usually the one they try to scare you with. "We can fine you $11,000 and put you in jail for a year'. You're in big trouble. Just cooperate. Give us your equipment.

The reality is, the have no real power and know it, so they resort to fear uncertainty and doubt. They are not at all above lying to get into a transmitter site. They trespass on private property regularly to get a look at things. They do all they can without going through the hassle of getting a warrant to scare the crap out of you to keep you from going on air again.

They are all about complience (shutting it off), first and foremost.

What I've learned over the last several years of running KBFR is that, if you make it clear to them that they don't scare you and you are NOT going away, eventually, you reach a balance with them. They come visit your transmitter site ever six or so months, leave a warning (forcing you to move it) and move on.

KBFR has several lawyers that will work for us pro bono (free) if need be. We've let the FCC know that if they do want to go to court, that's fine. We're prepared and it's not going to cost us anything other than time.

We've let them know we are friendly with the local press and, whenever they bust us, we tell the press and they write a story on it. Not always, but usually friendly to the cause of free speech and local media.

We stay in good stead with the local authorities, especially the political ones. City council type friendliness.

And we make sure the FCC knows that the community, the media and several lawyers support us in our efforts to bring the airwaves, or at least some reasonable portion of them, back to the people in the form of small locally focused radio stations that know and understand the neighborhood and town they serve. That give a shit about what's really going on and report about it. That play local music and local news and announcements and that support local businesses.

If you do that, they'll eventually lay off. They'll harrass you periodically (they have a job to do they'll tell you) but you can come to a sort of uneasy peace with them if you don't let them intimidate you into gong away after a bust or two.


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