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Avast! Radio pirates kill what's left of WCRB in Dorchester

Geoff Edgers reports that somebody's illegally broadcasting gospel and hip hop at 99.7, making it impossible for people in Ashmont to hear the classical station. Wonder if it's these guys? In any case, Edgers adds the FCC is on the case. I found the link to the station site on this page, which lists a whole bunch of low-power and pirate stations in Boston, many serving the local Haitian community.

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Back in the 1990's when a wave of unlicensed low power FM's swept the country, no one could deny that based on FCC rules they were not broadcasting legally. However, it was part of a protest against draconian FCC rules and an attempt to bring localism back to the dial after massive consolidation in the industry.

I was a part of one of those stations.
We were shut down. But, we did not and would not cause interference. The whole point was to prove to those at the FCC (who were too busy listening to the media monopoly lobbyists) that it IS in fact possible to fit more small stations on the dial to serve localized areas without causing interference. We wanted to be able to become licensed and legit.

A few years after being shut down, we went back on the air with a part15 compliant (yes, legal) AM signal. Under part 15, you do not lay claim to the frequency you choose - but part 15's generally don't want to step on each other's broadcasts.

However, our signal was soon squashed by an AM Pirate station that didn't seem to care. We contacted them. We tried to tell them that we were there first and that since neither of us could claim that piece of spectrum, it was better to work together. No dice. That illegal station was in fact leasing out its airtime. That's right. It was FOR PROFIT. We had to move to a different frequency.

I wonder if these are the same people. They were also Haitian. I'll grant them that there's no "legit" representation of Haitian culture on radio and that they deserve access to the airwaves as much as any culture. But, there also seems to be a culture of radio piracy, one-upmanship, and a lack of respect for anyone else on the dial within that community. Some of these stations have even been associated with gangs...at least in Florida that was the case.

When will the FCC realize that we just need to open up the airwaves to more licensed stations? There is room. We have the technology. It will be FCC monitored and therefore interference will probably even be lessened. The only way to get rid of radio piracy is to eliminate the need for it.

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I too was part and actually founder of a unlicensed broadcast station WDOA that ran in Worcester from January of 1996 until the end of October 1997. We had carefully picked our frequency and monitored our transmission equipment so that we would not be causing any interference to existing stations. We knew that interfering with other stations would not do us any good (who wants to broadcast on or around a local station's frequency). However starting in early 1997 are signaled started to get crunched by a non-licensed religious (possibly Haitian) broadcaster. We actually tracked down the location of the station and talked to one of the operators who of course at least pretended to speak very little English. Since the frequency we were on was basically the only open frequncy in Worcester, we tried to work out a frequency sharing plan. The operator claimed to understand what we were saying and agree to it, but when it came time during the designated time of the day for them to sign off and let us broadcast they ignored the agreement. It seems like on many levels feel that God himself has given them a license to broadcast and anyone else be damned (literally). We got a visit from the FCC in October of 1997 and ceased operations, but I could still hear the bible thumpers for months later on the frequency. Don't know if the FCC visited them, but they would have had a tougher time than with us, as the religious broadcaster was located in a pretty scary neighborhood in Worcester, plus of course the "no hablo Inglis" factor. We have been broadcasting since 1998 on the internet, but still miss the days of good 'ol live over the air broadcasting.

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I'm a reporter working on an in-depth magazine article about the history of Boston's unlicensed pirate radio scene, and I would love to talk to anyone on this thread who is a part of it. I'm interested in the bygone era of low-power radio as well as today's Haitian-dominated scene. Email me at julia.reischel gmail com (make it an email address) if you're interested in being interviewed.


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