Monday, April 20, 2009

Arrr, Matey! We be pirates!

Back when radio started, there were no rules. You wanted to put a station on the air, you did it; anything went and nobody could complain. Except, perhaps, for finding your antenna on the ground in the morning, chopped into little pieces.

Later, the Feds took all the fun out of things when it issued a set of rules. Did I say, “took all the fun out”? Well, most of it. Pirate stations began popping up here and there, low-power operations with no-license operators.

Putting them out of business was akin to ridding your home of cockroaches: step on one and two would appear. Try to find where they lived and you came up empty. Even now, in New York City the pirates pop up in speaking their own language, antennas hidden from the FCC, on and off the air with a schedule apparently known only to their listeners.

During the twenties and thirties, listening was great. Doc Brinkley was selling his goat gland operations (Viagara was in the future) with studios on one side of the Rio Grande and “border blaster” transmitters on the other side, covering the entire U.S. and parts of the planet, as well. He wasn’t quite a pirate, but people in Washington were grinding their teeth and saying some bad words.

The evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson moved her station around to whatever frequency she felt would be better to spread God’s word. When notified she could not do this, she berated the Commission and said she had God’s permission.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew you were a pirate when I heard you saying The Pirate's Prayer - otherwise known as the Arrrr Father.

April 21, 2009 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey,that's pretty good!

April 22, 2009 3:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

We got some clever people out there.

April 24, 2009 12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'M green with envy..

Exit 318

April 25, 2009 6:00 AM  

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