The O.P.s — Original Pirates — Full Power and Micropower

As long as there have been transmitters, there’s been broadcasters who aren’t interested in appealing to a higher authority for the right to use them. As for nearly as long, there’s been some federal agency hunting them down. But not nearly successfully enough to quash unlicensed broadcasting altogether.

To whit, this 1934 Modern Mechanix article complaining about not just the ship-board off-shore pirates and the Mexican-based border stations, but also the broadcasters operating with what we’d call micropower:

All the so-called “radio pirates” are not across the border or out on the high seas. A. D. Ring, principal engineer of the-federal radio commission, says that at least 200 outlaw stations have been under surveillance in the United States alone.

Most of these stations operate on from one to five watts power and claim immunity from federal restrictions on the assertion that their radio waves do not travel from one state to another. However, supersensitive equipment employed by federal investigators has broken down this claim and as a consequence many such station operators have been indicted and held for trial in the federal courts.

It’s somehow comforting to know that the “my radio signal doesn’t cross state lines” defense was alive and well more than seventy years ago, even if it didn’t hold any more water then than it does now.

It’s also comforting to see that despite all the bluster from the regulatory agency, unlicensed broadcasting is still alive and well 3/4 century later. (via Slashdot)

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