Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tree Radio

There is a strange tradition of broadcasting from trees in Berkley California. Berkley is home to KALX, KPFA, Radio Free Berkley... and a large number of micro-radio advocates also known as pirates. Regardless of where your opinion falls on the topic the history is interesting. In florida pirates go to prison. In Alaska they get licenses... There is a range of normal.

Back in November of 1998, Free Radio activists conducted a non-stop two month broadcast from atop a tree in Berkeley. they were trying to bring attention to FCC harassment of micro-radio/pirates. A picture of their banner is to the upper right. The FCC actually sent two field agents to issue them a cease and desist but were unable to breach the crowds and the very tall tree. Eventually federal marshalls ended the fun.

In the intervening years Berkley Liberation Radio used the 104.1 frequency. But on 9/4/08 the FBI raided a berkley area community library. They seized computers, and lists of people who borrowed books. In all fairness, the officers did have a warrant. It stated that some of the hardware had been used in a felony. The felony was unnamed, as was the felon. But they also seized a laptop belonging to Berkley Liberation Radio. In the Bay area this is widely beleived to be retribution for their demonstrations at the RNC. Who knows.

But back to tree radio. I got an email from AMPB recently. They filled me in on the state of tree radio. In July tree radiobegan covering a tree-sitter in Berkley. University of California at Berkley has a plan to raze some trees and build a spiorts center. Some of the students would rather have a nice big stand of trees than another gym so they protested. Don't judge 'em. That's just the way stuff get's done in the East Bay. He wrote

"One of the better media efforts had to be Tree Radio. Using hacked-together equipment including a laptop with a network card and a stationary bicycle powering a twelve volt battery, this micro-station was able to link to the Berkeley Liberation Radio transmitter."