Pirate Radio and the FCC : Blue Meanies in Austin

Blue Meanie (with antennas at alert) / Yellow Submarine.

TAB conference in Austin:
Keeping it legal

By Jim Radio / The Rag Blog / August 25, 2009

AUSTIN — The Texas Associaton of Broadcasting (TAB) annual conference was held here in Austin last week. A local radio activist group infiltrated the industry conference and filed this dispatch.

During the Q&A following his “Keeping it Legal, Avoiding FCC Fines,” presentation to about thirty Texas radio industry members, Mr. Stephen Lee, an FCC Resident Agent, based in Houston, was immediately asked a number of questions about “unlicensed radio operations,” AKA radio pirates.

“We actually chased a guy house to house here in Austin!” (I suspect the diminutive Mr. Lee would not be much of a challenge in a foot race…)

He was referring not to a literal foot chase, but repeated visits to followers of Austin’s infamous Alex Jones. Jones’ numerous inflammatory, conspiracy-inflaming programs are distributed on the commercially-supported Republic Broadcasting Network online and are broadcast on both licensed and increasingly, unlicensed, stations across the country.

According to those who routinely monitor the Austin airwaves, there are currently at least two such RBN stations operating somewhere in the city. Thus you now have the phenomenon of “commercial pirates,” touting gold futures, water filters, dried fruits, and of course, Jones’ numerous videos.

“Even after visiting one house,” said Lee, “we have to check tax records, etc. to check ownership before visiting another house.”


After a few more questions on the pirate issue, one of the undercover reconn team members, smartly dressed in a suit and tie, with a perfect copy of the conference registration badge draped around his neck, weighed in.

“I was in California recently and visited both Free Radio Santa Cruz which has been broadcasting for years without a license, overtly, publicly, they even run the local city council meetings! (Big laugh from audience. Lee squirmed.) And the Pirate Cat Radio/Cafe in SF which is operating with impunity from their own popular coffee shop. With the ready availability for anyone to purchase an FM transmitter over the internet (armstrongradio.com; freeradio.org) and the ability to deliver a signal via the internet to virtually anywhere, how is the Commission going to address this issue? I mean, it seems like there’s a real movement afoot to forgo all the regulatory hassles and just go straight on the air.”

Stammering a little, Lee responded, “Well, um, that’s a little above my pay grade. The Commission has to deal with the ‘problem de jour,’ and there has not been the same push for [busting] pirates as there has been, say, for cell phone jammers, which is a big issue. I really can’t advise you all policy-wise.” (methodshop.com; phonejammer.com.)

About that time, cell phone service in the room mysteriously went out…

[Jim Radio is a community media activist in Austin.]

The Rag Blog

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5 Responses to Pirate Radio and the FCC : Blue Meanies in Austin

  1. Anonymous says:

    nice work recon team!

  2. Malcolm says:

    "smartly dressed in a suit and tie"… there's only one joker in Austin who dresses like that at radio conferences and his initials are JE…

  3. jim radio says:

    Another Austin radio listener asks about 90.1FM

    Assuming you are not referring to the 90.1FM signal of the legendary KPFT/Pacifica outta' Houston, I am guessing you are trying to listen to an Austin pirate parked on that freq. It is one of the RBN-sourced stations, featuring Jack Blood and Austin's own AJ. It may have been taken down by the pirate busters, or could be having

  4. Anonymous says:

    Jones was not on RBN. RBN still broadcasts on 96.3 from as best I can tell somewhere in Round Rock. The other two frequencies were shared with other networks.
    I say ‘shared’, that might be a stretch. Let me clarify. Private individuals “own” the transmitter, and run what ever internet stream they want. These people ran strictly talk radio streams.
    It is my opinion, that the disappearance of these very valuable stations is a tragedy. These brave souls risked a lot to bring to their community at their own expense an alternative story to the “official story”. The official usually being pure propaganda, and lies. They offered a chance to hear the news before, and after an actual event hit the spin cycle of the FCC controlled mainstream media.
    Without the whole story of what is taking place not only around us, but around the world We The People cannot come to a logical conclusion, or a fully informed understanding of any event that takes which directly, or indirectly affects all of our lives in a profound way be it, the nature of a bill before the house or senate with all it’s hidden agendas, an alleged terrorist attack, or even the dangers of vaccines, and GMO foods. They also had shows that would actually teach people the law from a standpoint of not only keeping what freedom we have, but to get some freedoms back, which we have lost. The issues that were discussed, usually in great depth, were always of great importance to us all. I suppose I should say that is if you are one who enjoys what so called “freedom” We The People have left is important, here in the land of the ignorant and the home of those who care not to have a clue. Myself, I have a clue, and what is on our doorstep is not good for us as a country, or individuals. What this country is walking into will be it’s demise unless We The People become informed of what is taking place under our very noses. Without these micro broadcasters We The People no longer have the freedom to hear the rest of the and decide for selves what is true. Those who find these issues important now no longer have a way to listen, and keep track of what is going on without lugging around a computer, and trying to find a yfi let alone listen in the car.
    We are now in the dark.

  5. Anonymous says:

    does anybody know who it was who went into the meeting?

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