Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Patron Saint of Pirate Radio

There's a lot to be said about pirate radio. I've posted on it many times in the past on it and surely will do so many more. http://www.freeradio.org/images/primer.pdf Stephen Dunifer is the most brazen pirate in modern times. It's one thing to sit on 96.9 in San Diego for 5 years. It's another to put up a web site, do interviews and challenge the FCC to come get him. Stephen Dunifer is the founder of Free Radio Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Free Radio Berkeley, an unlicensed micropower pirate radio station, was involved in a protracted legal case with the Federal Communications Commission in the mid-1990s They were eventually acquitted of all charges, marking a major victory for micropower radio.

He calims: "We're not stealing anything. We'’re claiming something that's rightfully ours... It’'s always been our position that if enough people go on the air with their stations, the FCC will be overwhelmed and unable to respond.” Dunifer goes as far as to hold camps to teach peopel how to start and run pirate radio stations. Stephen Dunifer literally wrote the book on it, being the author of several books on the micropower movement. It's out of context, but he also said “The FCC can kiss my Bill of Rights.”

That' s balls right there. Over 185 pirate broadcasters received fines, cease and desist letters or had been raided by the by betwrrn January and September of 2005. This is an increase of at least 50% in 2 years! It's up from a total of 151 enforcement actions 2005 and a mere 92 in 2004. Clearly they are enforcing VERY aggressively under the Bush administration. but here is Stephen daring them for a bust that's usually considered inevitable.

The FCC spokesman David Fiske states "“We are completely complaint driven,” he said. “If there are more enforcement actions, that’’s because there have been more complaints.” Which sounds like a lie... because it is. Not every complain spurs an investigation, not every investigation spurrs a an enforement action and not every enforcement even garners a successful prosecution. the staff at the Enforement bureau has held stable at 333 people for years.

Dennis Wharton the spokesman for (NAB) National Association of Broadcasters, said “It’’s like whack a mole,” he said. “You knock it out in one place and it pops up somewhere else.” So despite increased enforement, even NAB feels a sense of hopelessness in the fight. So maybe Stephen is right?