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Pirate Cat in fundraising mode to buy radio license

Pirate Cat radio says that the operation has “two FM stations that it has the option of purchasing,” but it needs $60,000 to do so. Hence a fund-raising drive on the Kickstarter site.

The Kickstarter campaign has until October 21 to raise the money.

San Francisco’s Pirate Cat has an interesting history. For a while it was an unlicensed station, then it went off the air following government pressure, then it starting providing programming for a station in Pescadero.

Now here it is, pursuing a legit license! Next thing you know, the staff will be doing presentations at the next NAB convention in Vegas! (Just kidding).

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5 Responses to Pirate Cat in fundraising mode to buy radio license

  1. Paul Riismandel October 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    I’m very curious about where Pirate Cat has found two licenses in the SF Bay area for $60,000. That amount sounds way too good to be true. I’d be surprised to see any license for a station that can be received in SF, Oakland or Berkeley go for less than $250,000.

    I can understand why Pirate Cat might not want to publicize the location of these potential licenses in order not to bring an unwanted bidder into the picture. Nevertheless, I’ll be curious to see what happens if the $60k gets raised.

    I also have concerns about how Pirate Cat will be run. In particular, who will own the licenses and make these important programming decisions? I’m not saying that Pirate Cat needs to put in place a byzantine structure like Pacifica or have the kind of bogged-down committee system that hampers a lot of community station. Rather, I think if an organization is going to fundraise as a non-profit, that organization ought to make clear how it will run things if it’s able to meet its goal. Those donating should have some idea of what their money will be funding, along with some assurance that the kind of station and programming that will result has some resemblance to what is being promised, or at least what the online station looks like now.

    There are a few clues to go on. The Kickstarter page says that a $5000 donation buys “5% voting rights on the Pirate Cat Radio Inc. Board of Directors,” while $10,000 and up buys 20%. Pirate Cat Radio is incorporated in California as of Dec. 2009. However, I see no indication that it is incorporated as a non-profit corporation. In fact, as far as I understand it, being able to buy a percentage voting right pretty much eliminates the possibility of Pirate Cat Radio Inc being a nonprofit.

    What that means to me is that those who donate less than $5,000 do not get any sort of voting stake or say in the operation of the future Pirate Cat Radio licensed station. In fact, it means donors are giving to a de facto for-profit enterprise, even if Monkey’s intention is to run it more like a non-profit. In any event, these “pledges” are not tax deductible.

    Now, if it turns out that these stations are in the noncommercial band, that might change things a bit. But that is yet to be seen.

    I do want to make clear that it would be better to see even a commercial station that looks and sounds like the current Pirate Cat than to have another cookie-cutter voice-tracked Clear Channel spin-off. At the same time, I wouldn’t be too interested in donating to a commercial station owned by a for-profit company. In that case it would seem that selling off shares/interest in the company to EVERY donor would be a more fair approach.

  2. Radio lover October 13, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    On the California secretary of states website

    http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/cbs.aspx

    PIRATE CAT RADIO INC. a California non-profit

    Entity Number: C3262710

    Date Filed: 12/04/2009

    Status: ACTIVE

    Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA

  3. John Anderson October 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    I hope Mr. Roberts is smart enough to keep himself off any FCC applications and documentation. While it is not often invoked, the character-qualification rule (on which I am ambivalent) might apply here.

    And what happens to the station in Pescadero?

  4. Jennifer Waits October 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    KPDO has a separate owner (Monkey just manages the station) and is airing programming from the local Pescadero community. My understanding is that they were never really intended to be a broadcasting arm of Pirate Cat. Pirate Cat just provided programming to help get them off the ground.

  5. Paul Riismandel October 15, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    radio lover: I did that search and I didn’t see anything about “non-profit” in the entry.

    To be fair, it doesn’t look like that search returns profit status at all. But that still leaves the question open as to whether Pirate Cat Radio Inc is a for-profit or non-profit corporation.

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