Re: [videoblogging] FCC raids a micro (pirate) radio station in Santa Cruz…

At 10:20 PM -0700 9/29/04, Shannon Noble wrote:
>What was this all about?

Free Radio Santa Cruz ( has been broadcasting illegally for about 10 years. I don't know what the ups and downs of their ongoing battles with the FCC have been, but today the FCC did what only the government can legally do: sent in people with guns to achieve their objectives.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the situation. Being not very subversive myself, I think people should try to obey the law, even when it is stupid. Then you try to change it. 10 years is a pretty long run, after all.

Most of the people that were in the crowd viewed it (solely) as a free speech issue, but if everyone could just set up a transmitter and start broadcasting, and there were no restrictions regulations, what would stop some Clear Channel classic rock station from blowing them off the airwaves?

I don't know the details of the technology and law for FM broadcasting, but I think the reasonable solution would be to change the law (or regulations) to allow micro-broadcasting under reasonable conditions. In this specific case, I don't think that FRSC (aka "Freak Radio") was hurting anyone (i.e. interfering with another signal.)

The FCC took their antenna, transmitter, computers, tape players, turntables, and I heard they were taking records, tapes, and CD's too. That's the stuff they're loading into the "undercover" camper-shell pickups that you can see in the slide show.

A lot of similarities to what we're trying to do with videoblogging. Three major differences are:
1) Low technology (Analog radio)
2) Illegal
3) Audio

The cost of communicating locally or globally with audio and video continues to drop and if we safeguard the first amendment (or equivalent) there will be ways to (legally) do this sort of thing. Whether the airwaves are socialized or privatized there must be some rules/regulation to determine who gets to use a particular frequency in a particular location.

FM is an old technology and is dominated by "big media" so it may not be the best place to fight for independent voices. WiFi (wireless "ethernet" networking) is largely unregulated and it was somewhat enlightened of the FCC to allow it, and it truly is revolutionary. In Santa Cruz there is an organization called "Third Break" that is dedicated to spreading free WiFi as widely as possible. ( This is legal and subversive at the same time!

Jay and the other community TV folks may have some additional insight into pirate radio as it borders on their world. I also made an effort to chat with folks who had (working) video cameras and met a woman who is involved with community TV in Santa Cruz. She's going to give me a tour of the studio and I'm going to talk to them about videoblogging. (She had heard of MNN, Jay!)

One interesting thing about FRSC is that they call themselves a "collective" and as I was hanging around asking questions, it truly seemed like no one was "in charge". I've never really listened to the station, but if they get a new transmitter, I'll try and tune them in. I found a live stream on the website, which currently has a looped informational message about what happened and a song called "F**k you FCC" playing.

There are biased but accurate (at least about the parts I saw, since I arrived late and left early) summaries here:
and a photo essay here:
(When I left the feds were trying to fix their flat tires, I didn't get to see the spectacle of the tow trucks showing up…)

>Did Al Gore have anything to do with it? Jest.

Clearing the way for INdTV, I guess. 😉
You're *really independent* when you're a pirate!

— Sean

>On 9/29/04 8:18 PM, "M. Sean Gilligan" <seanlist@…> wrote:
>… and I was there with a DV camera with a dead battery. So, I shot a little video and a handful of camera-phone photos. The posts are here:

M. Sean Gilligan : 831-466-9788 x11
Catalla Systems, Inc. :