Pestering the Pirates

The Federal Communications Commission can't seem to keep illegal broadcasters off the air

In June, while their station was blasting a powerful 1000-watt signal across the county, some members of the 97.7 FM crew traveled to Washington. They say they met with FCC officials and expressed interest in obtaining a license, should the agency decide to allow new urban broadcasters. "If a window opens up, I want my people to be able to jump through it," says Bill Ferguson, a Miami-Dade lawyer who has been advising owners of 97.7 FM. "One percent of radio stations in this country are owned by black people," he adds. He says U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek was "instrumental" in setting up the meeting.

Walter Campbell, an electrician who is 97.7 FM's engineer, is tiring of the wait. He estimates federal agents hauled off $20,000 worth of equipment in the July 27 bust. "The FCC is essentially telling people what to listen to," Campbell protests. "Who the hell are they to tell people what to listen to?" He expects Miami-Dade pirates to continue their defiance. "We're pretty much making a stand," he says.

"We'll all be back on," promises Eaton, after the FCC battalion has cleared out of the parking lot. Then he and Garcia climb into their shiny blue station wagon and head home for some quality time with their two young kids.


RELATED STORIES By Kirk Nielsen

"A Pirate's Mutiny," January 28, 1999

"Making Airwaves," October 1, 1998


RELATED LINKS

8/24 press release: Florida unlicensed broadcast criminal case

FCC Audio Services

Unlicensed link to oodles of free radio sites

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