The Origin of Original Radio

Typically the idea of a pirate, the image of a large ship and an eye-patch come to mind, peg legs and parrots too. Neither glasses, nor a PhD in electric engineering, or enormous structures called towers that are constantly broadcasting the pirated frequencies of unlicensed digital, analog, invisible ‘booty’- RADIO… Radio pirates?

Yes, there exist those unique groups and individuals who build their own broadcast stations without following the mandatory government requirements that try and rule the invisible waves that are continently all around us. As the pirates from our story books ruled the vast and virtually impossible to own oceans, Radio Pirates surf the transparent sound waves. A “pirate” radio station is unlicensed, illegal station broadcasting in violation of the laws of the country it is located in.

Pirate radio is a relatively new development in the United States and Canada. Up until the late 1970’s, there was only a few unlawful pirates with their unlicensed radio programs. Most pirated radio programs operate on AM and FM bands, and are rarely heard outside their local territories. The most common time that pirated radio can be heard is on the weekend and evenings and nights, and it is most popular on holidays like Labor Day, New Years Eve and Day, and President’s Day. According to dxing.com, Halloween produces more pirate radio activity than any other night of the year!

The individuals who first explored pirated radio in the late 1970s used inexpensive ham radio transmitting gear suitable for pirate broadcasting because this tool was widely available. Another reason pirated radio because so popular is because the growing inability of the Federal Communications Commission, FCC, along with Canada’s Department of Communications, to enforce regulations against unlicensed broadcasting. Currently pirate radio activity takes place in USB on frequencies above or below various ham radio bands. The most popular range for pirate operators is near the 40-meter ham radio band. Most pirates tend to congregate around the frequency that has little interference, such as 7415 kHz, which was considered the “standard” pirate radio frequency. Unlike old fashion pirates whom were enemies, pirates of the radio world coordinate their schedules to avoid causing interference to each other. Since most pirates do not operate on regular schedules, the best way to hear them is to keep an ear on frequencies where other pirates have recently been active.

The following is a list of known pirate radio stations according to Wikipedia.

The sound of pirate radio is probably the most original radio you will ever hear. Unfortunately the program quality is highly uneven. Pirate radio is crude, imitative, and somewhat “high-school” sounding. On the other hand pirate radio at its best allows you to hear original material, especially social and political spoofs that you will not find on any other stations. Some pirated radio stations play a variety of things, such as the recently active Lounge Lizard Radio, which features many well known “cocktail music” artists. Another well known pirate station is KOLD, which plays mostly Big Band and boogie woogie music. (pirateradio.com) Because the pirated radio stations are usually low powered and use simple antennas the stations are more difficult to hear than most other shortwave broadcasters.