Why I am a Covert Broadcaster

Guerrilla Micro-Radio Broadcasters take back 104.1 FM

Since that injunction against Free Radio Berkeley came down (see article this page), it has become necessary for microbroadcasters everywhere to move operations into the hills once again. Microbroadcasting advocates, now more than ever, are needed to stand up and put their personal freedom on the line for the sake of the larger freedoms and goals of the society – liberating the public airwaves. The FCC gleefully began shutting down micropower stations all across the country, completing the corporate stranglehold, and it is up to us, free speech advocates, to tear it down once and for all.

It is no time to sit around and pretend that you are not participating in the corporate controlled media domain by boycotting television and reading books, whining about Disney this and Westinghouse that. Now is the time to put your ass behind your convictions, and stand up and take back the airwaves. We no longer have the safety of the U.S. v. Dunifer case pending in the courts, when microradio was in a legal gray area and micropowerbroadcasters could just point to the Dunifer case as protection; that has been ruled on. Now we must engage in civil disobedience, fully exposed to arrest, jail time, and any number of humiliating and horrible experiences, so that others in our society may be free. By taking the airwaves, the FCC has taken our voice. We must take it back.

Covert broadcasting is a small art form that, when accomplished, is better than warm milk for one s pride, confidence, and spirit of radicalism. What I, Miss Hearst-Landers, have been doing is climbing the side of a mountain and broadcasting off the top of it to the community below. It doesn t take much for electronic civil disobedience. The equipment, of course: transmitter, antenna, filter, mixer, tape player, microphone, car battery, a panoply of wires and cords, and a few friends. We hike up a mountain, slipping on tree leaves, pausing under the weight of that damned 60-pound car battery. The evening sun is always in the perfect position to blind us on our way up. The surrounding forest is still, the buzzing of insects constant. Sweat dripping, we pant and gasp our way up this hill, curses to the FCC on our lips with every step. When we reach the top, we go through a trail filled with poison oak and ivy.

When we finally do start broadcasting, it is truly a feeling – rather like excitement mixed with fear, queasiness, and pride. There are good tactical reasons for choosing a mountain – the fact that your signal will blanket much of your chosen area with only a little power, and also the fact that a bust is improbable. I could throw the FCC official farther than he would walk from his Suburban, and the terrain is not especially adapted for vehicles.

If you do decide to jump in head first, remember the risks but be proud of your decision. I was scared at first (and still am), asking myself what was I doing and why the hell for? I came to this answer: I am grateful for the risks my forefathers and foremothers have taken in the years before me that have ensured me my freedoms (Upton Sinclair, the Wobblies, Mother Jones, Tom Mooney, Emma Goldman). It is only right for me to do the same thing for future generations. I couldn’t live with myself if I did anything less.