Pirate Radio Part 2: Aftermath

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Remember when I told you not to build a radio station without the proper licensing? Here is why....

The radio station was going along swimmingly, and with almost no work on my end. One day I get a knock on my door. I open it, and it is two men from the FCC and four(!) police officers there to shut me down.

Now that I have your attention, let me explain to you why you don't want to build one of these. Look past the legal issues for a moment. The electromagnetic spectrum is a finite resource. There are only so many spaces on the spectrum that radio signals can fit. Without regulation, there is anarchy on the spectrum, where only the people who can afford the most powerful of transmitters can use it. The FCC provides the needed regulation.

When I built my station, I did not fully understand these concepts. I thought of the FCC only as a body focused on censorship. I WAS WRONG. By not doing the proper research into these matters, even though I my intentions were good in creating the station, I was in a way encouraging the sort of anarchy on the electromagnetic spectrum that should never be encouraged.

At the end of the day I can say this, building this station was a dumb move on my part, not due to the legal reasons, but due to not taking the time to understand WHY these regulations exist. I can assure you, that will not happen again.

Time to get off my soapbox...

The guys from the FCC were actually very nice to me. They understood that I didn't do the research first, so they let me off easy. They confiscated all of my radio equipment, but did not levy any fines. I was facing a possible $10,000 fine, so I'm very happy with the result. As a bonus, I got to see the equipment they used to track me down, and they even told me to apply to the FCC after I graduated! Their logic went like this: I used to run a pirate radio station, I obviously know how they operate, so I'd be an ideal person to help find them. Works for me!

In the end though, I ended up with a great story to tell, and a much better understanding of why some of the laws are in place. I think that is worth losing some of my equipment over. If anything, my radio station will always exist in my heart.

I'll never forget you... *sniff*


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