[Landline addenda] Transmissionaries
Liberation radio-related addenda and erratum for last week's Landline No. 22
ADDENDA AND ERRATUM for last week’s radio-centric Landline
1. A friend of Landline reminded me of the most excellent Radio Garden radio-listening resource, which has grown into something quite impressive and liberating: a one-stop website to listen to live radio from all over the planet.
Radio Garden invites you to tune into thousands of live radio stations across the globe. Our dedicated team is hard at work tending to the garden on a daily basis. Planting seeds for the future and keeping the weeds at bay.
2. I have been reliably informed that Radio Is a Foreign Country is in fact not being run by the Sublime Frequencies people, which was my semi-educated guess. Of course my informant could be part of some larger Sun City Girls-style misdistricktserism effort, right? I give! No idea who is behind this benevolent operation.
3. Other helpful comments and tips from Landline readers on the state of low-power “community” FM radio coming in (relatively) hot here:
4. I mentioned the FCC crackdown on the pirate radio movement in the ‘90s, linking to a November 1998 news article on the subject keyed to the recent bust of KBLT, the all-volunteer L.A. FM pirate radio station where I deejayed on Sunday afternoons. Here’s an excerpt:
KBLT was only the latest, though certainly one of the most prominent, of approximately 250 stations shut down by the Federal Communications Commission this year.
After a run-in with FCC workers at the site of the station's transmitter, KBLT operator Paige Jarrett was given the choice of surrendering her transmission equipment or paying a fine of $11,000.
She chose to surrender the equipment, the value of which she estimates at $500. The station, which featured regular DJ stints by the likes of former Minutemen/firehose bassist Mike Watt and Keith Morris, formerly of Black Flag and currently the Circle Jerks vocalist, has been silent since.
Jarrett said she had experienced a range of emotions over the bust.
"First it's shock, then it's anger, then it's sadness, then it's frustration. I really wasn't expecting it to happen," she said.
Operated on a budget of less than $100 a month, KBLT, heard on FM frequency 104.7, played a variety of music, ranging from old-style country to drum 'n' bass, rock and jazz. Broadcasting seven days a week and 24 hours a day from the Silver Lake district, the station was rated Los Angeles' best by local weekly publications for the past two years.
"It's a very romantic idea," Jarrett said of pirate radio. "I think a lot of people wanted to do it, but didn't quite know how, so when they found out that it existed they wanted to be a part of it. I was very lucky. It was just a magnet, really, for all different types of people, a lot of different artistic people."
"Every day I feel more and more doomed," she said, adding that she just heard of another bust in another state that demoralized her even more. Whether or not KBLT continues, she said, she hopes to raise public awareness of the free speech issues raised by the government crackdown on what she calls "radio by the people for the people."
"Paige Jarrett" was Sue Carpenter's KBLT name. Six years after the bust of KBLT, she she published 40 Watts From Nowhere: A Journey Into Pirate Radio (Scribner’s, 2004), a well-received memoir of her experiences running a pirate radio station out of her Silver Lake apartment in the mid-1990s.
40 Watts From Nowhere is unfortunately out of print now, but here’s something from the Arthur Magazine archives: a piece Sue specially assembled for Arthur’s ninth issue on recommended best practices for the contemporary home pirate radio operator. Enjoy.
HIDE THE BEER
Some advice from SUE CARPENTER about running a pirate radio station out of your own apartment
Originally published in Arthur No. 9 (March 2004)
It terrified my parents, amused my friends and inspired the DJs who got involved, but for me, squatting on a piece of prime FM real estate was simply a challenge—to change a system I did not like and break the mold of my overly ordinary, and earnest, existence. Here’s what I learned in the three years I was on air in Los Angeles…