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free103point9 Newsroom has moved to http://free103point9.wordpress.com/as of March 18, 2010 A blog for radio artists with transmission art news, open calls, microradio news, and discussion of issues about radio art, creative use of radio, and radio technologies. free103point9 announcements are also included here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

New York Times freelance writer provides no news on Brooklyn microradio

Today's The New York Times has a severely under-reported story about the plethora of microradio activity on the Brooklyn airwaves for the past fifteen years.

Without any sort of news peg (Ditmas Park Blog is taking credit for tipping off the Times), Alex Mindlin quotes folks from WBGO (88.3-FM) and WFUV (90.7-FM), with George Evans, the head engineer of the latter, going so far as advocating the draconian Florida law that allows local police officers who know nothing about Federal broadcasting regulations to arrest so-called pirate radio station personnel. Since the Federal government, and not the states or cities, regulate the broadcast spectrum, this Florida law will surely be thrown out once it is challenged in court.

Mindlin mentions the January 2007 $10,000 fine charged against Elroy Simpson of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, but fails to mention the Federal Communications Commission's Nov. 2 letter of Notice of Unlicensed Operation to Sean Buckner in Brooklyn for operating on 94.3-FM without a license, or any other recent FCC action.

The FCC is constantly contacting and fining Brooklyn-based microradio stations, and most of the stations remain on the air, operating on the few NYC frequencies that have any breathing room at all between licensed stations. Mindlin correctly mentions the many Haitian-oriented stations, and the several Hasidic operators, and grasps that the Flatbush area is a hotbed of activity. But he fails to mention several prominent hip hop and hipster stations, and fails to address the "why" at all. Mindlin's main news flash: WFUV's web site has received 294 complaints about interference from pirates since August, though they could all be from one person as he doesn't question this number at all.
--Tom Roe

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3 Comments:

At Feb 18, 2008, 7:43:00 PM , Blogger Ike said...

The problem is that some of these pirates are interfering, or have interfered, with good, legitimate non-commercial stations such as WFMU and WKCR. I'm OK with the idea of pirate radio in theory, but that "draconian" Florida law probably doesn't sound so bad to WFMU and WKCR and their listeners these days. I haven't driven to Brooklyn lately, but the last time I was there, the 90.9 FM pirate was splattering all over WFMU (91.1) in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Museum and Flatbush. (Is it still there?) An overmodulated 89.7 pirate was interfering with WKCR (89.9) and an 89.3 pirate was messing up WSOU (89.5) and WFDU (89.1). There were tons of others, but some of them had the decency to operate in relatively open spots in the commercial part of the dial, like at 99.9, instead of picking on little stations like WFMU.

Out here in New Jersey, a persistent and powerful 90.1 FM pirate, "Roadblock Radio," interferes with WKCR in western Newark and Irvington, and there's also a strong 96.5 FM hip-hop pirate, apparently also from Newark, which is adjacent to legitimate station WQXR. I don't like WQXR (which is owned by the New York Times) but you'd think this pirate would not be so insanely brazen. I've also heard a Latin pirate at 102.5, directly adjacent to the legitimate (if boring) 102.7. There are many other pirates who are sensible enough to use a more "open" frequency like 104.7 or 107.9.

The FCC should spend more time shutting down the jerks who cause interference with legit stations, and less time enforcing stupid, vague, undefined rules about profanity etc.

 
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