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Microbroadcasting Summer Camp

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the fight-the-man dept.

Communications 272

ScottGant writes "Wired has this story about Steven Dunifer and his four-day Radio Summer Camps sponsored by Free Radio Berkeley that offers how-tos for building transmitters and antennas, along with advice on handling any FCC agents that might come knocking. Imagine this: A thousand little stations send radio programming across cities and towns from senior centers, dorm rooms and attics. The understaffed FCC would be powerless to shut them down. Audiences would have substantive content choices. No one would tune into Top-40 radio. And the media moguls would slink back into their caves. The FCC and Big Radio are obviously paying attention to the microbroadcasters -- it was pressure from independent broadcasters that forced the FCC to grant a limited number of low-power, or LPFM, radio licenses to community organizations, a decision that the NAB resisted. Are these Pirates or Patriots?"

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MicroBroadcasters (4, Insightful)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087247)

I know this will not be popular, but there is a reason for the FCC to be around and to control the spectrum. Think about it, if the FCC did not exist I could drive around with a 2kilowatt spread spectrum transmitter on 2.4Ghz, good by WiFi, or I could jam all cell phones anywhere. The FCC may not be perfect but we need it. Also with these vandals (yes I use the word vandals) it would be nice if they were low power and such, but they get their kicks from broadcasting over another station. That is one reason for the FCC to protect peoples right to their freq. If one wants something on the air there is always the public access stations. Or you could do a net stream, there are many other options, the FCC is not there just to hurt the little guy, they are there to protect the bands, they are not always good at it, and they make mistakes

Re:MicroBroadcasters (4, Interesting)

MisterJones (751585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087309)

I agree. Aren't these microbroadcasters on the same level as spammers? By broadcasting whatever they please over top of the expected/indended brodcasts, they interfere with the regular reception on my radio. Maybe I don't want to listen to their band's demo tape for 60 hours in a row. What if I prefer 'top-40' drivel?

Does the fact that larger radio stations are owned by a company and have a license make them evil?

Re:MicroBroadcasters (3, Interesting)

hackman (18896) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087635)

It doesn't make the larger radio stations evil directly, they ended up that way because they are under control of a very few companies. (Basically 2 to my knowledge).

They are trying to gain some audience so they can change the way the FCC operations, the fact that significant resources beyond the technical gear is required to communicate over the airwaves could be interpreted as limiting freedom of speech.

I'm not saying it should be wide open to anyone, it certainly needs some regulation. I'm saying the existing restrictions on frequency use have gone beyond just protecting the frequences and moved into the realm of monopoly-like power over a critical resource.

Re:MicroBroadcasters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087318)

That is one reason for the FCC to protect peoples right to their freq.

HEY NOW! You *know* those freqs have to be FREE!

Re:MicroBroadcasters (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087379)

Good point, unfortunately.

Historically, when I see the words "Berkeley" and "Free speech" mentioned in the same article, I put on my hip boots. "Free speech" at Berkeley usually means "Free speech for people who agree with us; everybody else gets a free roll of duct tape."

I hope the Free Radio Berkeley people aren't actively encouraging folks to broadcast on top of legal FM licensees. That's a bad idea from both a political standpoint and a technical one (the 100 kW station will generally win, due to the FM capture effect).

Re:MicroBroadcasters (1)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087453)

Well depends if I am a block from you with 5 watts and the 10kW station is 45x the distance from you I will be stronger, do to the invers law of RF, aka the power of the transmition is 1 / sqrt(distance)

Re:MicroBroadcasters (3, Informative)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087484)

sorry it is 1/distance^2 not sqrt, the number is about right, I just missed typed.

Re:MicroBroadcasters (4, Insightful)

Rik van Riel (4968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087396)

That's why they need to be regulated, and probably given a few channels where they are allowed to broadcast at low power.

Freedom of speech is good, freedom to make yourself heard even better. I'd really like to see a way for microbroadcasters to get on the air without disturbing the current users of the spectrum.

Re:MicroBroadcasters (4, Insightful)

warpSpeed (67927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087436)

While agree with you that the FCC is there to protect the spectrum from abuses, they are also crushing any kind of innovation by not accepting simple low power transmitters, used responsibly, as a legitimate use of the spectrum. If they were to allow low power transmitters, and provide specs as two what make said transmitter, you would see something happen akin to the WiFi market. There would be lots of people that would be interested in legal hardware that could provide the low power broadcasting. Simplify the process for applying for a licens for one of these low power transmitters, and you would have a vibrant market.

The FCC says that only pirates are doing this, but until they sanction low power transmitters with legitimate rules, the hardware manufactures will not produce the product the "average joe" use...

The FCC it self is the problem, because they are in the pockets of the Big Radio corps...

Re:MicroBroadcasters (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087565)

I don't have the slightest idea how radio trasnmissions could or could not be safely regulated, and accordingly have no view on what policies the FCC should enact.

What I do know is that setting up my radio station because some badass-in-his-own-mind from Berkeley gave me some instructions and now the whole world will be able to listen to my homemade techno mixes and Top 40 stations will be doomed and the FCC will be powerless to stop me and I'll STRIKE A GLORIOUS BLOW FOR FREEDOM*****!!!!

...well, that would make me a nuisance and an imbecile.

Re:MicroBroadcasters (2, Insightful)

warpSpeed (67927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087621)

I don't have the slightest idea how radio trasnmissions could or could not be safely regulated, and accordingly have no view on what policies the FCC should enact.

This is why the FCC should produce specs on the subject, just like they do for WiFi equipment.

What that would do is signal to the manufactures what they can make and sell as a legitimate product.

Would'nt it be nice to legaly "STRIKE A GLORIOUS BLOW FOR FREEDOM*****!!!!", without getting arrested or fined?

Re:MicroBroadcasters (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087486)

Actually, what upsets me more is the fact that someone with a high powered linear can affect more than just equipment that deals solely with Radio Waves.

For instance, I watch tv, and pipe the audio through a home theatre receiver, which is then fed to my speakers. A few months ago, about once a week, we get this horribly loud noise of a trucker blaring out on his CB. Naturally, I thought it was a bit odd, because we're probably 2 miles or so to the nearest highway. In fact one evening it forced my receiver into an overload condition....

The problem here is that I can't exactly pinpoint the source of the signal and say "cut that out", because the guy is on the move. All I can do is hope that the guy gets on a different route and leave my poor amplifier alone.

Re:MicroBroadcasters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087500)

>> I could jam all cell phones anywhere

Methinks this might be a good idea.

BPL (2, Interesting)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087564)

Yet the FCC is shirking it's duties by accepting the upcoming wideband interference of broadband over power lines in the frequency range of 3 to 80 mhz.

Re:BPL (1)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087638)

as i said
and they make mistakes
I did have that but I forgote that slashdot removes anything between parenthesis.

Re:BPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087703)

What is the point of your signature?

Re:MicroBroadcasters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087589)

Or you could do a net stream

Right !!! Asshole...
the same sonsabitches already took care of that shit
you got any idea how many fuckin stations where
taken off the air when the big ass stations
started whineing...about net streamers stealing
their revenue...???

Wake UP dumbass....bigbrotherstationtroll

Re:MicroBroadcasters (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087598)

I know this will not be popular, but there is a reason for the FCC to be around and to control the spectrum.

The popularity of your statements is irrelevant. Their logic and basis is the issue.

Also with these vandals (yes I use the word vandals) it would be nice if they were low power and such, but they get their kicks from broadcasting over another station.

First, you've already made up your mind. Do you know any of "these vandals"? Have you met them?

In my experience (and I have LONG experience in both ham radio and microbroadcasting) most of the people you're talking about will NOT broadcast over another station because doing so is contrary to their own goals.

The goal of micropower radio is to HAVE A RADIO STATION OF YOUR OWN. It's a little counterproductive to go around vandalizing other stations. You tend to last longer the more you control your signal and keep it from interfering.

That is one reason for the FCC to protect peoples right to their freq. If one wants something on the air there is always the public access stations.

The peoples' right to their freq? Nobody has a RIGHT to a frequency under the FCC. The use of a frequency is a PRIVILEGE doled out to those who can either pass a test (ham radio) or pay enough cash (spectrum auctions, license fees).

Under the FCC, the PEOPLE have NO RIGHT to broadcast anything. And that's the problem. The spectrum belongs to EVERYONE but the FCC will only allow broadcasting to those who have deep, deep pockets.

Precisely whose interests do you suppose they are protecting?

Or you could do a net stream, there are many other options, the FCC is not there just to hurt the little guy, they are there to protect the bands, they are not always good at it, and they make mistakes

You COULD do lots of things. You could publish a book or you could distribute tapes or you could stand on a box in a park with a bullhorn.

The problem with this argument is that it's fallacious. It says, "You don't need to do A because you can always do B." Fine, there are always alternatives.

Why do you need to use the internet? I mean really...you could use the telephone or send a letter or distribute your data on floppies or cds. When you use the internet, you're risking interference to others. How do we know that your machine won't become infected with a virus and trojan and send out spam or attack our networks? We'd better regulate the Internet and make so that only the wealthy can use it! Oh, we'll give little 14.4k connections to those who can pass a test...that way if they get infected then they can only send a little spam.

The fallacy is about convenience. Why do 3 to 6 megacorporate conglomerates get to control ALL public discourse in the United States via the most powerful media? They clearly don't do a good job and they clearly have a vested interest in keeping certain information from us (like when their other products are faulty or their CEO commits a crime).

Why can't WE THE PEOPLE, by whose authority public resources are SUPPOSED to be available fairly (if not equally), use broadcast media for our own purposes?

Cost? Anyone can now buy or build a transmitter that will comply with regulations for little money.

Scarcity of spectrum? Maybe in New York or LA but in a town like Des Moines, Iowa there's PLENTY of specturm available...and a town like that NEEDS the diversity of voice.

Standards? BULLSHIT! America has no standards but the dollar.

The issue is competition. Understand this concept and everything else makes sense. People who have money and power will DO ANYTHING (lie, cheat, steal and kill) to keep others from getting money and power. Win lose mentality. The FCC are merely their buttboys.

The problem with this is that microbroadcasting isn't about money and power. It's about freedom and it's about choice and it's about diversity and it's about art and it's about expression. But the big corps can't fathom this. How could something not be about our one right true and only God MONEY????

Top 40 and talk radio are a disease. Micropowerbroadcasting is the cure.

Re:MicroBroadcasters (2, Interesting)

Woodmeister (7487) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087644)

Yup. All of your points are quite valid. The main problem here though is probably "Big Radio". Because spectrum is scarce and the need for a reliable means of the most essential means of receiving information exists, we do need the FCC (or the CRTC up here in the Great White North) to enforce rules regarding the improper use of the public airwaves. However, the airwaves are a "public" resource, and some of it should be allocated to any Joe who wishes to operate a low power (ie. a couple of watts or less) FM station as a service to the community. The need for licencing such LPFM stations is still there (to let the authorities know who is who), but it should be more trivial for folks to obtain said licences. Big radio will always be able to play the game, but much pressure has been applied over the years to make them the only player.

73, DE VO1JWW

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087249)

asdnasklndlkjasndlkjnasd asdasd

Are these Pirates or Patriots? (5, Interesting)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087258)

Are these Pirates or Patriots?

Can they be both?

Re:Are these Pirates or Patriots? (2, Insightful)

SteveM (11242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087335)

Or Neither?

Re:Are these Pirates or Patriots? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087357)

well he said Are these Pirates or Patriots not Are these Pirates xor Patriots so I guess yes they can be both.

Re:Are these Pirates or Patriots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087380)

Are these Pirates or Patriots?

Can they be both?


You're thinking of a Pietriot.

Re:Are these Pirates or Patriots? (1)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087420)

If they were both: they would make them Patriot Pirate People - PPP, so we just call them Protocols

Definitely Patriots (1, Insightful)

2names (531755) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087521)

The airwaves don't belong to any government, they don't belong to any private organization, they don't belong to any person.

The FCC is a sham and should be dismantled.

Re:Definitely Patriots (3, Insightful)

johnkoer (163434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087658)

The airwaves don't belong to any government, they don't belong to any private organization, they don't belong to any person.

The FCC is a sham and should be dismantled.


And the ozone does not belong to any government or private organization, but does that mean we should dismantle the EPA?

While I am not a fan of the FCC, it does exist to regulate the usage of the airwaves. I think its power should be limited to protecting the airwaves from being overpopulated, however, they should not regulate the content being provided.

Everyone wins...mostly (4, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087261)

Not only is this is a good idea in terms of some diversity over the radio waves, but it might get kids interested in electronics again like ham radio and a few other hobbies used to do:

"...offer how-tos for building transmitters and antennas..."

I also like what it can do for neighborhoods where it might enhance a sense of community which is sorely lacking these days. Either way, I think everyone wins and that doesn't happen very often (well, the NAB doesn't think that they win but anything that promotes radio eventually helps the NAB).

Happy Trails!

Erick

Re:Everyone wins...mostly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087342)

If you want to get kids interested in electronics and radio, promote a revitalization of the ham bands, rather than encouraging illegal broadcasting on licensed spectrum.

Re:Everyone wins...mostly (1)

croddy (659025) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087571)

We can start by dropping the morse code proficiency requirement.

Re:Everyone wins...mostly (2, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087694)

The reason Morse code proficiency is required is HAM's are meant to be an ad-hoc communications network in the event the proverbial shit hits the fan, and after the thermonuclear EMP has fried all your microchips and shit, you need a way to communicate, and morse Code over radio is able to function without fancy electronics,

To poor for camp (1, Interesting)

ifreakshow (613584) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087265)

I can't afford camp so I'm just going to rent this [imdb.com] instead.

Re:To poor for camp (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087705)

Once again please, for those of us with IT departments that treat us like children? (DAMN WEBSENSE!)

Top 40 (3, Insightful)

All Names Have Been (629775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087267)

No one would tune into Top-40 radio.

Aaahhh .. yeah. Never underestimate the banality of the common man. Even in areas where there is substantial choice, Top-40 pulls 'em in. Like it or not, it's there because it makes money.

Re:Top 40 (0, Troll)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087437)

It makes money because people listen to it, people liten to it because they like it, like it or not, the average "slashdotter" music is the same as the average "rebel student magazine music ed" music - total crap.

Re:Top 40 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087463)

aw, c'mon... don't you know that once we fire up this "Internet" it will be wonderful because anybody will be able to have their own "website" that they can fill with their own content for all of us to see.

It will be great. I also envision these "websites" having a feature that allows people to write down their fascinating thoughts on everyday life. These daily logs on the "websites" ( I coined the term "weblog", but it might be too wordy) will be a fascinating addition to the body of human literature.

Maybe some day we can do the same thing with radio stations.

It will be great.

Arrrrr! I'm a pirate! (0, Redundant)

Visaris (553352) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087273)

I helped set up a pirate radio station once. Well, I painted it camo so the FCC wouldn't find it... They found it anyways. That's why we moved it into a van. After that, they left us alone :)

Pirates or Patriots? How about idiots? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087276)

Imagine this: A thousand little stations send radio programming across cities and towns from senior centers, dorm rooms and attics. The understaffed FCC would be powerless to shut them down. Audiences would have substantive content choices. No one would tune into Top-40 radio.... Are these Pirates or Patriots?

Try "idiots". There's only so much radio band out there. If there were 1000 little stations then result would not be 1000 choices of content, it would be ZERO choices of content, because there'd be so much mishmash and overlap that nobody'd be able to tune in shit without interference.

If you want to kill off FM Radio, this'd be a good way to do it. But it wouldn't be a good way to help out the people who just want to hear tunes. Want to broadcast your selection of tunes? Go get a license like everybody else.

Re:Pirates or Patriots? How about idiots? (1)

ziggy_zero (462010) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087398)

Yeah, that's exactly the word that came into my mind when I first read it.

If you want to start your own radio station, do it on the internet.

Packetize it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087662)

Better yet, turn radio INTO the Internet! Make all the broadcasts packet-based. Then we can have several program streams broadcasting on the same freqency.

In fact, why not break the stations' fare into syndicated shows? I'd like to tune into shows from around the country and around the world when I feel like it-- and the local broadcasters can still 'drop in' their own local advertising between show segments. Everybody wins!

Re:Pirates or Patriots? How about idiots? (2, Insightful)

forand (530402) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087438)

I agree with most of what you said but you seem to have missed a rather large point to all this: the FCC charges 100,000 for a liecense, so "everybody else" cannot afford to broadcast. I think we need regulation of the radio waves mainly for the purposes of science, I have had to deal with annoying people who transmit where they shouldn't be while I was trying to do science in the same bandwidth. But I don't see why this means we need to have 50 clearchannel stations and none or very few from average Joe's. Surf around the FM and AM bandwidth in your area and you will find that there are a lot of bands not being used, why not give those to nonprofs? schools?

Re:Pirates or Patriots? How about idiots? (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087707)

But I don't see why this means we need to have 50 clearchannel stations and none or very few from average Joe's.

The most stations I'm aware of, in one location, that ClearChannel owns is 12. That one I've seen personally, as they simply bought all the radio stations in the area and moved them all into the same broadcast building. The content of them all didn't really change, just the advertising schemes.

But I doubt anywhere at all has "50" channels owned by the same people (be it ClearChannel or anybody else), as there's only 100 tunable FM channels on your radio. Count 'em up.

As for Low Power licensing, I'm all for it. But I agree with the original AC poster who said that these guys are idiots, as simply having thousands of unlicensed ppl broadcasting simply won't work. If you want to get the FCC to offer cheap, low-power, licenses and regulate the max power and locations and such, then more power to you. But simply training people on how to build their own broadcasting devices and antennas and then turning them loose without instilling any kind of "good neighbor" attitude towards the airwaves is just a receipe for disaster.

It's everybody's sandbox, and everybody has to play nice in it, or it becomes a big giant mudhole.

Everyone knows that (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087449)

THIS [lyricsondemand.com] killed off FM long ago.

FM Radio Is Already Dead (1)

SteveM (11242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087469)

FM Radio died a while ago. When the FCC (or was it congress?) relaxed the rules on station ownership. Bye bye diversity. Hello corporate bland.

But I agree that having thousands of idiots kicking the corpse ain't gonna help it get any better.

SteveM

Re:Pirates or Patriots? How about idiots? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087493)

Bingo.

In addition, the claim that there would be so much more "substantive content" is patently silly. It takes a lot of work to create substantive content. It takes a lot more than just looping your entire mp3 collection. It takes people and time and money.

Of course, if you are just retransmitting something someone else has produced, it is a lot simpler, but then, you're just retransmitting someone else's work.

As for this killing top-40 ... har. The only reason it would kill top-40 is if someone is deliberately interfering with the top-40 station to the point that people cannot listen. And the FCC assumes that interference from illegal stations is deliberate, because it is. Forcing the legal licensee to complain about interference is a certain way to get the FCC's interest, along with a lot of staff lawyers for the corporation owning the top-40 station.

Re:Pirates or Patriots? How about idiots? (4, Informative)

akb (39826) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087552)

The FCC proposed doing just what you have said is impossible, that is, licensing thousands of low power FM stations. However, the broadcast industry purchased a vote in Congress [slashdot.org] to override the FCC's technical findings. They cut the number of stations from thousands to a few hundred by requiring overly strict and told the FCC to study it a second time. The FCC study came back recently [slashdot.org] with the same results as the first one, thousands of stations can be licensed w/o causing interference.

Watch for a new bill from John McCain to allow thousands of low power FM stations to be licensed. Maybe if you become more informed about the issue you will ask your Congress critters to support this legislation since your interference concerns have been allayed. If you want more info take a look at the Free Press LPFM page [freepress.net]

No one would tune into Top-40 radio? (5, Interesting)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087278)

Bullshit. That's like saying if you broadcast pirate TV shows, noone would watch Survivor or American Idol.

Re:No one would tune into Top-40 radio? (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087399)

It's typical niave thinking that says if I don't like something, nobody likes it.
A lot of people like top 40s. Top 40 was around before radio stations where owned by clear channel.

Re:No one would tune into Top-40 radio? (1)

Country_hacker (639557) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087682)

Umm, can I call 'Duh'? The only reason a particular song is in the "Top-40" is because most people like it more than other songs. That's the whole concept behind the top 40. Now, I admit there's a whole lot of music out there that doesn't get the appreciation it deserves because they're not affiliated with the RIAA, but that doesn't change the fact that out of the music being widely distributed, the "Top 40" is the 40 most popular songs.

Re:No one would tune into Top-40 radio? (2, Interesting)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087414)

well, given that illegal movie downloads have tripled over the past year according to this BBC article
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3692999 .stm

i wouldnt be surprised if some people start broadcasting pirated movies any time soon...

just imagine the backlash that this would cause!

chaos... (2, Insightful)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087286)

Ahh, the ignorance of the OSS type mind!

Everyone is free to do what they want, including broadcasting over someone on a popular frequency if you don't agree with their message. Should your local little broadcast station become too popular, one of your competitors mearly has to jam your signal out of existance. nothing you can do, no reprecussions, you just have to sit and take it.

Re:chaos... (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087337)

and remember kids, large RIAA backed groups can afford biger broadcast gear then you can.

chaos can be good (1)

CarrionBird (589738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087619)

if it can be used to bring down an opressive system. These people seem to think that the FCC is an opressive system. There are probably better ways to get your message out than this, but it's a protest and protests are often silly.

gut reaction (4, Funny)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087316)

This sort of underground culture is such a good thing that, if the repressive laws causing it didn't already exist, we should enact them.

imagine... (2, Interesting)

neiffer (698776) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087332)

adding the internet to this mix...streaming a station to 100 people who then broadcast it to a combined millions...someone could broadcast to a substantial audience from their basement

Re:imagine... (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087461)

Sort of like Slashdot and Wired. Wired publishes a story, and a few days later, it shows up here.

Its like speak blogging (1)

AMG (110468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087334)

Should be nice to be there and to rate the stations, even its posible to sindicate programs shared by mp3 or ogg files.

Could you imagine 200 radio stations repeating useful information about anything?

"The Mediun is the message" Marshall McLuhan

Dave Berkman at wpr talks about "pirate" radio... (1)

mobiux (118006) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087336)

Check this one out.
It was pretty good and actually had some input from people who do this.

I know it's in real player, but ya gotta take what they give ya.
Pirate radio show. [wpr.org]

Yes. (1)

bbockholt (543469) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087340)

Last first, pirates, rebels, patriots are just views of the same person from different directions. First last, chaos is more robust than order. You cannot easily knock out 1,000 little transmitters, but one big one is easily disabled. Also ran, the information payload for chaos is either infinite (as in the number of monkeys typing) or zero (as in the sense of what they have typed).

Better Try a Lower Wattage Bulb (2, Insightful)

VonGuard (39260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087346)

So, Congress is supposedly still investigating whether a low power, 100 watt station, will interfere with a 10,000 watt big boy broadcaster. This is why the FCC pulled out about 75% of the possible frequencies and number of low-power stations per district.

Anyone want to place money on the outcome of that congressional research? I lay odds at 1 to 1 that the report will state that little broadcasters are ruining the signals of the big guys.

Congress is such a wonderful scientifically responsible and honest body.

Re:Better Try a Lower Wattage Bulb (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087478)

The 100 Watt station will indeed interfere.
The difference is only a factor 100 and as such any place were the distance to the small station is ten times as small as the distance to the large station the small station will appear to be stronger.
Even if it is more than ten there will be a substantional area were it will be in the same power range as the larger one.

Jeroen

Re:Better Try a Lower Wattage Bulb (1)

Rigor Morty (149783) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087686)

In an odd turn of events, locally (Athens, Ohio) recently got a few of the new low-power FM liscenses. We have a very rough terrain in our region, and the radio we can get consisted of A. Country, and B. Pop music pond scum. Weak-FM (very appropriately named) has about a ten-mile coverage, and plays nothing but oldies, and the occasional public service announcement. It's SO much better than ClearChannel, it's not funny. And I'm almost certain it's a couple of guys screwing around with Winamp.

How bad are things that two guys with an MP3 player can out-perform a national chain?

I'd put in a link, but there's no web page yet.

FCC would shut them down (1)

spotteddog (234814) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087362)

Why? Money. The FCC can impose a $10,000 fine per incident. If you were caught broadcasting for several days - say a week that's $70K. You can pay several FCC salaries with that kind of cash. If thousands were doing it, it would only take a little time for the FCC to ramp up staffing to collect that kind of cash.

The licensed broadcasters would most likely kick in some $$ too. (At least they would lobby the political side to protect them.)

(BPL) the thorn in the toe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087368)

Broadband over Power Lines, lets destroy the spectrum!

Substantive content choices? (2, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087369)

Most 'pirate' radio has tended to broadcast either 'college' rock/alternative or political speech from one of the two classical extreems (socialist left or faschist right). Substantive content choices will have to mean more than "Not Brittany". It will need to include educqtional programming, targeted at the specific neighborhood, or musical programming preserving vanishing jazz or blues artists, or op-ed that's more substantive (there's that pesky wood again) than the soundbite of the moment approack.

Re:Substantive content choices? (1)

infofreako (194212) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087604)

Nothing is more frustrating than tuning in to a pirate or even LPFM broadcast and hearing the same PAP which a Clear Channel broadcasts! If you're going to the trouble of building your own transmitter and risking personal freedoms in order to broadcast - MAKE IT WORTH WHILE. Not only for you, but for your listeners as well.

-pjc

Re:Substantive content choices? (1)

Unkle (586324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087625)

Unfortunately, though, having a true choice on content WILL include the Brittany Spears's and boy bands that this crowd loves to bash. Though it seems nobody here would ever believe it, some people actually, honestly, truely LIKE this kind of music.

Free speech (and free choice, as well) has the nasty side effect of exposing people to stuff they don't want to hear.

Anyone seen... (1)

over_exposed (623791) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087373)

Pump Up the Volume with Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis? Same thing, except the movie shows a little more T&A than this camp probably does...

Re:Anyone seen... (1)

NineteenSixtyNine (775581) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087698)

After summer camp experiences as a youth, which I will not go in to, I don't ever want to go to summer camp again.

Pirates or Patriots (1)

ArmenTanzarian (210418) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087382)

A thousand little stations send radio programming across cities and towns from senior centers

Yeesh... I mean, old people and I both love Sinatra, but yeesh... that's a powder keg of boredom and crazy ranting waiting to go off...

I find this hard to believe (4, Informative)

caffeineboy (44704) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087406)

"The Underground" was a radio station broadcast from the top of one of the dorms at OSU. They tried without success to get a license to broadcast, including a low power license, for years... Finally, they just started broadcasting at a couple of watts from the dorm with no license.

To put it in perspective, I lived about 300M away from their broadcast site and I couldn't get any reception.

Anyway, the FCC came in and turned their power down to the legal limit. You can't get their station from 4 floors below their antenna anymore.

"there are too many, they can't get us all" is not a valid way to go about changing things, especially when the penalties are harsh like the penalties for FCC violations.

Plus, who wants the local idiot to set up a station and swamp out a station you actually like? I'm not saying that I like anything that is being broadcast, and I wish like hell I could get the underground on my radio, but it just isn't going to happen until we start reforming media ownership laws...

Ignorant snobs (4, Insightful)

Genevish (93570) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087407)

No one would tune into Top-40 radio.
This always annoys me. Why do you think it's top 40? Most people like that form of music. Just because YOU don't doesn't mean everyone is clamoring for other music, otherwise the "indie" labels would be much more successful.

Re:Ignorant snobs (1)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087583)

Most people like that kind of music because that is ALL THEY HEAR. People turn on the radio, go to the movies, change channels on the TV and that is ALL THERE IS.

Yes, not everyone 'clamors' for 'other' music, but these people don't know that there IS OTHER MUSIC.

Never underestimate the laziness and apathy of Americans, because MOST ALL OF THEM ARE.

You'll see that the RIAA is making use of the fact that people will consume WHATEVER IS IN FRONT OF THEM, a fact that MS uses in including IE with every copy of Windows.

How many people even know that THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES?

I hope that this post has been as annoying as a CLEAR CHANNEL BROADCAST, and INVERSELY INFORMATIVE.

Re:Ignorant snobs (1)

causality (777677) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087610)

Why is it top-40? It's the same phenomenon you see with Microsoft really. Microsoft is a marketing company first, and a software company second. A distant second at that. Same with assembly-line, cookie-cutter music like you get with most of the content of top-40. As long as listeners are more impressed with shiny flashy "YOU MUST HEAR THIS!" messages than they are with actual artistic ability, then yes you are right, top-40 will remain quite profitable and is here to stay.

FCC wouldn't stay understaffed (1)

jdunlevy (187745) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087419)

The understaffed FCC would be powerless to shut them down. Audiences would have substantive content choices. No one would tune into Top-40 radio.

... And Top-40 radio would lobby real hard to be sure the FCC didn't stay understaffed and that the FCC would be adequately empowered to shut them down. In the meantime, they'd probably lobby real hard for the FCC to make examples of some of the more visible microbroadcasters.

Sources... Kits... or not (5, Informative)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087456)

Try this [northcountryradio.com] if you want to build a free-standing FM transmitter from a kit, or this [pcs-electronics.com] if you want to drop a PCI card into your PC and be on the air instantly.

Pirates or Patriots? (2, Funny)

johnkoer (163434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087465)

Are these Pirates or Patriots?

Both: They are Piratriots.

Powerless to shut them down??!!??!! (4, Interesting)

MisterLawyer (770687) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087489)

"The understaffed FCC would be powerless to shut them down."

Young Skywalker, do not underestimate the power of the FCC [radio4all.org] :

When the Federal Communications Commission came calling to shut down two local pirate radio stations late last year, the pirates say they got hit with a heavy dose of law enforcement muscle - choppers, submachine guns, flak jackets and other equipment and tactics usually seen in the takedown of killers or major drug desperados. (emphasis added)

umm...no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087495)

maybe i'm dumb, but this just seems an easy way to get pinched. the way the fcc is going lately, i wouldn't want to do anything to get them pissed at me. if you really want to do a "pirate" radio show, why not just do it over the internet.

Pirates (3, Insightful)

alienw (585907) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087497)

These people are definitely ordinary radio pirates. The FM band has licensing for a reason -- because there is not enough space for everyone. I cannot find an empty spot on the FM band even in a college town with less than 20,000 people. The band is crowded, and there is not enough room for everyone and their dog.

Besides, has anybody else noticed that the reason most "microbroadcasters" are "micro" is because nobody wants to listen to them? After all, if everyone is dissatisfied with clearchannel and likes some random local broadcaster, they can always persuade the FCC to give the small station a license instead. After all, that works for college stations, NPR stations, and many local stations. So, the pirate stations have to resort to tactics like interfering with a legitimate broadcaster in order to promote their crappy and unpopular format.

Stupidest. Idea. Ever. (4, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087514)

You're kidding, right? Analog FM bandwidth is a very limited resource. Worst case scenario you end up with so many different signals you've got nothing but noise. Only slightly better (and the best you could reasonably hope for, with this, IMHO) would be many tiny cells in each city, within which you could hear a given station.

This isn't better. I'd rather listen to a commercial rock station and hear mediocre songs all the way through and put up with ~25% advertising than institute a model where I can't hear any song to the end in my car, because I lose reception too fast.

Even if - maybe especially if - it's a song I love.

The FCC, for all its flaws, serves a useful purpose. It regulates the use of a freely-accessible (technically, at least) resource which is extremely limited in supply.

perfect timing! (1)

tloh (451585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087525)

Now that friends has just aired its series finale, you *know* Americans are just dying to try something new and trendy. What could be cooler than making like Christian Slater and pumping up the volume!?!? That's right you Elvis fan, it's time to dust off your LPs and start gyrating them hips. Three cheers for the aspiring Marconis amongst the air waves!

pump up the volume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087526)

Talk Hard

No more Top-40? (4, Insightful)

Humorously_Inept (777630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087541)

No one would tune into Top-40 radio

How many of the unfeasible thousands of tiny radio stations do you figure would be playing Top-40 anyway? There really isn't enough diversity in music to support even a modest number of unique radio stations. Most of them would be playing dead-air or else experiencing wide overlaps in content.

Beyond that, what are the chances that this technology could be used for evil instead of good? Does anyone remember the hooligans who usurped a Burger King drive through system and berated customers for being fat? Unfortunately, a tool like radio would probably inspire the worst in poorly mannered people rather than the best in mild mannered ones.

The technical aspect is very interesting and well worth teaching. The social aspect needs a disclaimer.

ORRRR (2)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087549)

I turn on the radio and get cross talk and garbled words because of all the damn idiots broadcasting in my area.

Re:ORRRR (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087590)

FCC fines Stern for his typical less than politically correct show but won't address Oprah's show where "tossing salad" was graphically described. They're not likely to be any more consistent with very small rogue transmissions.

Power less (4, Insightful)

pottymouth (61296) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087568)

"Imagine this: A thousand little stations send radio programming across cities and towns from senior centers, dorm rooms and attics. The understaffed FCC would be powerless to shut them down. "

Is that like the RIACC is powerless to stop the millions of downloaders and file traders from sharing music, etc... because there's just too many people doing it? All they have to do is get the interested parties (commercial radio for instance) to call their lawyers who will call their lobbyists who will pay a few judges/polititians who will write a law that includes a fine so large (you know, like up to $150,000.00 per song) that no one will take the risk of getting caught. Then they just have to arrest a few people to set an example and all the sheep run back to the barn...

Welcome to America man, land of the Lawyer... Someday this may again be a free country but not today.

Judging from American history.... (2, Interesting)

gilroy (155262) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087573)


Are these Pirates or Patriots?"
...there isn't much difference, except time for a historical perspective...

FCC? (2, Insightful)

nukem1999 (142700) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087580)

If this happened right now, I think the FCC would be more worried about shutting down Stern than all these little transmitters. More money and votes to be won in censorship than in regulation.

Ultra low power FM (2, Interesting)

certsoft (442059) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087597)

You can also get "sorta Part 15 compliant" transmitters if you only want to cover a 1/4 mile radius or less. I put together one of these kits: FM100B [ramseyelectronics.com] and it works well.

As for subversive news, the article mentioned Democracy Now, I've never heard that one, but I often catch Free Speach Radio News on Pacifica Radio's streaming audio, or if I miss it, download it from FSRN [fsrn.org]

Riiiiight. (4, Funny)

CheapEngineer (604473) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087599)

"And the media moguls would slink back into their caves." Never before have I laughed so hard @ work that the Sation manager came down to the shop and asked me to pipe down, until I read this line. Stop it, *please*, yer killin' me. Cheap Engineer Somewhere in Corporate TV land

Great. (2)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087631)

Like it's not hard enough commuting and having the radio occasionally cut out to the Brittany Spears song .2 MHz off, now I have to be interrupted every fifteen feet by hundreds of 13 year olds with transmitters and their own call-in show listened to only by their next door neighbor playing their "All-Rancid-and-Green Day Morning, OMG WTF LOL!!!" on my way to work.

Setup Data Networks not radio! (5, Interesting)

dgp (11045) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087645)

Set up a thousand little 802.11 hotspots with point-to-point links to send all sorts of data across cities and towns from senior centers, dorm rooms and attics! Its already legal! The hardware is already cheap!

Now you've not only got local content streaming radio, you've got VoIP services, freely distributable media sharing, local news blogs, etc etc.

This is the dream of many wireless community networking groups, including The Personal Telco Project [personaltelco.net] in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Takes iPod headphones out of ears (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087650)

Did you say something?

Already happened (3, Interesting)

eltoyoboyo (750015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087652)

Maybe the poster might be to young to remember the Citizen's Band phenomenon in the 1970's. And while the underlying thought might be that the FCC is powerless or understaffed, try broadcasting in Clear Channel's AM/FM bandwidth and see how fast you get slapped with a cease-and-desist order.

One surfaced in my area a while back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9087655)

EPR FM (Erdenheim Public Radio). Lasted a little while, but the FCC finally came knocking. They are still on the web, though:

http://www.eprfm.org

shortwave (2, Informative)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087665)

Most "pirates" broadcast in shortwave, well away from any major AM and FM broadcasters.

www.frn.net has a sightings forum if you want to listen to this stuff.

Keep it quiet! (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087681)

he understaffed FCC would be powerless to shut them down.

But the DoJ would be empowered to prosecute these people for facilitation and conspiracy to break the law for telling all of these radio pirates that they should be broadcasting without licenses.

LK

Why on earth would anyone want to? (1)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9087689)

Haven't they got lives to get on with?

Ah, let's see, this is slashdot we're discussing this on ...
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