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Freak Radio Studio [image courtesy DIYmedia/flickr]

Freak Radio Santa Cruz's transmitter looking for a new home

Freak Radio Santa Cruz is one of the longest-running unlicensed stations in the country, in addition to having one of the highest profiles. The station has survived by pure tenacity, probably also aided by being located in the small seaside college town of Santa Cruz rather than a larger city where it would be under the nose of the FCC. That said, Freak Radio has had its run-ins with the Commission over the years. The most recent was a notice sent to the landlord of the building housing its transmitter.

Station volunteer DJ Uncle Dennis tells that

“Basically, we got a call saying the landlord had received a notice from the FCC saying a illegal transmitter was found and that he would be fined if he didn’t get rid of it…. This is a typical tactic they use to deal with unlicensed broadcasters.”

Long-time organizer and DJ Skidmark Bob confirmed the story to John at However, John also notes that Freak Radio keeps its studio and transmitter separated, and so the station can continue its live internet stream in the interim.

In other–much more clueless–pirate news, Rhode Island’s Block Island Times reports on unlicensed WOHP (“Old Harbor Pirates”) broadcasting out what is presumably a bar called Club Soda. However, it sounds like organizer DJ Jonah the Profit is a little hazy about broadcast regulations, telling the Times that

the group isn’t breaking any regulations…. “We operate under a 100-watt frequency,” explained Profit, so as not to interfere with other stations or two-way radios. “We abide by the FCC rules(.)”

I’m not sure what a “100-watt frequency” is, but if he means they’re broadcasting with 100 watts of power on the FM dial without a license, then WOHP sure as hell is breaking regulations. Did anyone at the Block Island Times fact-check this? Anyway, I’m not sure how busy the Boston FCC office is, but with this story in the press and the DJs’ apparent lack of a clue it’s just a matter of time before the Commission pays them a visit.


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3 Responses to Freak Radio Santa Cruz's transmitter looking for a new home

  1. Thomas Tew June 30, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    My Dearest diy Comrad,

    Much thanks for the hearty publicity.

    Great men with mustaches have written in depth about the concept of perspectivism; that is the idea that the process of creating new ideas may come from different perspectives, so that ultimately there is no eternal Truth. However, this does not rule out other perspectives from being more valid than others. This in no more evident when a local newspaper allows a sixteen year old girl to write a page 11 article.

    This article does not properly portray our radio station. Nor does Jonah the Profit speak for our radio station. One of the problems of decentralizing power in an organization is that certain perspectives of ideas may differ than what the truly valid ideas are. This article was supposed to be a character piece about a group of artists who are doing many different artistic arts around a small island. Instead, it focused on the most illegal activity of those artists in the majority of the piece. The FCC wasn’t supposed to even be mentioned in the article.

    So, much thanks for scaring the defecation out of the whole posse and well, I’ve scolded Jonah. I mean, he’s Head of Wires. He doesn’t represent the station’s legal arm. So, enjoy that link of the article while you can because hopefully the Times will be taking it down soon before anyone else notices and well, it’d be great if you could do the same!

    Thomas Tew

  2. Paul Riismandel June 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    Hello Thomas,

    Sorry the Block Island Times article didn’t work out the way you hoped. At Radio Survivor we only do retractions if we are in factual error.

    Instead of taking down our piece here I offer some advice: Re-read the part of this post about Freak Radio Santa Cruz and note how they’ve been able to stay on the air over ten years. They’re method isn’t fool-proof, but fools shouldn’t be broadcasting without a license.

    Also, don’t be too afraid of the FCC. They’re not cops, and they don’t have guns or handcuffs. Yes, they can send a lot of threatening letters and issue fines on paper. But collecting is another thing.

    Broadcasting without a license is against the law. Most people break some law sometime. So instead of being scared, be thoughtful and smart about it. If broadcasting is important then think hard about how to keep doing it. If the risk is too great to bear, then don’t do it.


    One Radio Survivor

  3. radio transmitter July 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    Before doing so we have to carefully consider the decision after it is a bit better.

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