This weekend I discovered an entertaining and eye-opening pirate radio documentary online - Priate Radio USA.
Given the post-Clinton legalization of media monopolies, the subject of pirate radio has once again become a hot-button topic. Pirate radio broadcasters use homemade technologies to take over radio frequencies , broadcasting without licences, beyond the reach of FCC rules and regulations.
Pirate radio has become a form of civil disobedience. The various subjects of the documentary fight directly against the corporate media by simply “stealing” FM bandwidth to broadcast their radical, rocking messages. Of course, the irony is that the airwaves above the United States are owned exclusvely by the public.
How can you steal what you already own?
Most of the stations in the doc are based in Seattle. This setting becomes pivotal to the film’s high point: the civil emergency during The Battle of Seattle. Some of the footage of police firing rubber bullets and tear gas is riveting and the abhorrent recasting of events by the national mainstream media is skewered unmercifully.
This doc starts slow, but it ultimately pays off with real-world demonstrations of the power of independent broadcasting. The pirates’ ingenuity is inspired and although some of the events and footage are a bit dated, the issues raised by the film are largely unchanged.
Here’s some propaganda from the film’s website:
Pirate Radio USA is a feature length digital documentary about the underground world of illegal radio in America, where people play what they want and say what they want–unless the FCC catches them…
DJ’s Him and Her, from their live Pirate Radio USA Studio, take you on a rock -n-roll journey inside rogue radio stations across the country to see why Americans defy Federal Law to free the radio airwaves.
On the way see the rise of Big Media, the growth of Citizen Media to encounter it, and witness their showdown over the truth during the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle.
Pirate Radio USA was broadcast–or really microcast–with a 4 watt transmitter live, as an uninterrupted radio program. The effect will be to ’see’ a live pirate radio microcast about pirate radio: a first.
See the battle to free the airwaves live–and find out the real price of freedom.
It’s not about Left vs. Right, it’s about Big vs. Small.
Ladies and gentlemen – Pirate Radio USA
Enjoy and leave a comment!
Joe Nolan <3