Thursday, November 10, 2011


In 2006 I wrote a post claiming that there had been only two attacks on radio stations in the US, and that both of them were at KPFT, and that both of them were carried out by the same Christian extremist group. I have recently found that there is a third radio station attack, this one on KRKO-AM. But this one has a somewhat more dubious pedigree. It does not involve explosives, though the E.L.F., the group commonly credited, often used incendiary devices. Here's the whole story.

The E.L.F., the Earth Liberation Front, struck first on April Fools day 1992. In fairness I'll concede that the group traces it's own groups to prior work of other activists back to 1975. More on that here. The group was very active in the 1990s inviting the ire of the FBI. Fast forward to 2005, and several core members were arrested for multiple arson. The group lived on. More here. ELF almost always signed their work. Btu after the 2005 bust their U.S. activity diminished. There were just 2 arsons in 2006 and one anonymous arson in 2008 that's assumed to be them. Then there were zero in 2010, zero so far in 2011. But in 2009 there was one with their name on it.. but without the gas fires. The problem with a popular winning recipe is that it's easily imitated. On September 4, 2009, two out of the four KRKO-AM towers were toppled by vandals. A painted sheet was left at the site with the following words: "Wassup? Sno Cty?  ELF"

It wasn't exactly verbose. But the ELF Press Office in Washington D.C. did later send out a press release. But the ELF press office, for obvious legal reasons, operates independently from the arsonist hippies that do the wet work. So their statement mostly just says that the act is congruous with their belief system. Their statement in part read
"Two radio station towers were torn down early Friday by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in the Lord's Hills valley in Snohomish County, WA. The towers, owned by station KRKO, have been a source of controversy for years. A sign left at the scene claimed responsibility by the ELF. Due to the health and environmental risks associated with radio waves emitted from the towers, we applaud this act by the ELF," stated Jason Crawford, a spokesperson for the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office. "When all legal channels of opposition have been exhausted, concerned citizens have to take action into their own hands to protect life and the planet. For the past eight years, opponents have waged a legal battle against the towers, arguing that AM radio waves cause adverse health effects including a higher rate of cancer, harm to wildlife, and that the signals have been interfering with home phone and intercom lines."
In other words, they condone it, but can't take credit with any degree of certainty. The back story is that in August, a King County Superior Court Judge gave approved a decision by the Snohomish County Council for more and bigger and more powerful radio towers on that lot. There were all kinds of NIMBY actions fighting KRKO all the way. GM Andy Skotdal admitted "The testimony at the hearings was often very bitter and negative." But just late in the day on that fateful September 4th an FBI spokesman admitted that only one person was believed to have been involved in the collapse of the towers. He used an excavator to pull down the towers and that a neighbor chased him away from the scene with a shotgun.

The Skotdal family offered a $25,000 bounty that has so far gone uncollected. The station transferred its radio transmission to a backup site and remained on the air at reduced power. On September 28th, a follow up message appeared, spray painted on a building owned by the Skotdal family and visible from Highway 522. It also claimed responsibility for the ELF.
"MBA KRKO/Snotdol Empire. If you continue to risk killing children, mother earth and her creations, all your holdings are targets."
KRKO operated from the damaged site at full daytime power and reduced nighttime power until the towers were replaced almost two years later. In October of this year, undeterred, Skotdal  lit up 50,000 watts of 1380 KXA-AM from the same location. GM Andy Skotdal is still uncertain if the ELF was actually responsible and neither is the FBI. It's been two years now, and there have still been no convictions.