Free Radio Olympia Off the Air

The long-standing unlicensed station Free Radio Olympia is off the air as of May 22 in order to avoid a probable raid from the FCC. However, they are maintaining their internet stream at their website.

Here’s the story according to an email sent to FRO allies:

Free Radio Olympia ceased transmitting its signal over
the airwaves on Tuesday, May 22nd to avoid a probable
raid by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The interruption of our service to the community will
last until a new volunteer steps forward to host our

Recent FCC harassment has escalated significantly,
both statewide and nationwide. The FCC has also
recently harassed two other unlicensed stations in
Washington State, according to DIY Media’s FCC
enforcement database. They are located in Port
Townsend and Everett.

We recognize that free speech is a right which is
denied the people by the federal government as
represented by the FCC and corporate media groups such
as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and
its powerful members such as ClearChannel. These
corporatists maintain a powerful monopoly over media
in the United States and have no interest in providing
the public with access to the public airwaves.

We oppose the corporate domination of radio, which
privatizes what should be a public community service.
In addition, we believe that the FCC’s recently
enacted licensing structure for low-power FM (LPFM)
operations have failed to serve the needs of
communities, though we love and support KOWA 106.5FM
in its struggle to maintain local licensed low power
operations within the ridiculous broadcast location
restrictions to which they have been assigned by the

Free Radio Olympia’s goal is to provide information
and education to the community by offering diverse
content including independent and local music,
alternative commentary and news programs, and coverage
of local events, none of which are made available by
corporate radio stations in our area.

The content and nature of free radio broadcasting is
determined by whoever feels the need and desire for
expression on the airwaves by participating in the
Free Radio Olympia collective, with the only limit to
speech being an intolerance of hate speech and direct
threats to individuals.


On October 29, 2004, in response to a request by KBCS
on 91.3 in Bellevue, Free Radio Olympia moved our
broadcast frequency to 101.9 FM, where we continued to
broadcast in defiance of the government’s and
industry’s unwarranted attempts to restrict and
control access to the electromagnetic spectrum.

FRO’s use of 91.3 might have prevented some Olympia
listeners of KBCS from tuning in their favorite radio
station, thus limiting their freedom of choice. KBCS
is not a commercial radio station or an NPR franchise,
but a progressive community station that airs many of
the same important public affairs programs FRO airs
such as Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News.
The members of Free Radio Olympia reached consensus
that the responsible course of action was to change
our frequency to one not used by broadcasters near
enough to have listeners in Olympia.

As an unlicensed, unregulated micro-power radio
station, FRO has always held to the belief that no one
owns the airwaves, and that no government or entity
should have the authority to own, rent or sell access
to the radio frequency spectrum as if it were real
estate. In fact, some of us believe no one should have
the authority to own, rent or sell real estate! Still,
it is not the fault of the renter that the landlord
exacts a toll.

While KBCS as a licensed, and therefore
regulated station, it does not have freedom of
mobility on the dial. FRO, as an autonomous station,
has much more freedom. As good community oriented
radio pirates we held ourselves accountable to our
mission statement and relinquished our squat on 91.3
for the good of the people, letting the progressive
voice of KBCS again have some room on Olympia’s dial.

On March 1, 2005, FRO changed frequency again to 98.5 FM, this time in
response to pressure from KSWW in Gray’s Harbor, which operates on our
previous first adjacent, 102.1. FRO is proud to occupy 98.5 FM, the
frequency that was liberated on Eugene, Oregon’s dial by our comrades
Radio Free Cascadia from April 1998 until they were shut down by the feds
in March 2001, the month that FRO went on the air in Olympia.

As an unlicensed micro-power radio station, FRO is
being forced into a corner, and ultimately there will
be nowhere left for us to go on the dial. We did not
make our stand on 101.9, but there will come a time,
sooner or later, when we will be forced to make a
stand, to defend our right to broadcast under the
first amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech
and of the press. When that time comes FRO will need
all the community support we can get.

For more information about Free Radio Olympia or to
get involved, visit us online at, or
email us at, or call us at 705-9780, or

you can drop off notes or goods for us at Last Word
Books downtown.
You may contact the author of this article by phone at



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One response to “Free Radio Olympia Off the Air”

  1. rich Avatar


    Apologies for posting this as a reply…I am not sure how to contact you directly.

    I have a vested interest in the news story reported below, as my partner and I own and operate Indie 101.5 FM in Santa Fe, NM (one of the subjects of this article).

    We are fighting a buyout of our signal (despite previous arrangements with the signal’s owner) by a big money radio corporation, Hutton Broadcasting (based in Vero Beach, FL).

    If the buyout described below occurs, Hutton Broadcasting will own 45% of the radio stations in Santa Fe. There will be no more Independant, commercial FM stations in Santa Fe. This is, in our opinion, a travesty: the airwaves should be for the public, not for one company or one person to control.

    I, or my partner Ellie, would be happy to talk to you further on any details or questions you may have.
    Media Consolidation is having a signficant negative impact on our Democracy. Please help us spread the word about this latest attack against Independant Media.

    Best Regards,
    Rich Garrett
    Indie 101.5

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