There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Monday, August 19, 2002

I'm on a Mexican, who-oah, Radio

I was wondering how long it would take for someone to pick up on the possibility of pirate netcasting. Doc Searls notes a post by Kevin Marks on the subject of offshore broadcasting in the UK in the 1960s. It's true that the offshore ships in that area had a huge impact (and not just in the UK), leading directly to the creation of BBC Radio 1, but you don't have to look at the UK for inspiration. There's a long history of pirate broadcasting right here in the good old USA. In the 1920s and 30s, another Doc, Doc Brinkley, was chased out of the US and set up a powerhouse station in Mexico, XERA, to peddle his particular brand of quackery (something involving goat glands). In more recent times, the owner of international shortwave broadcaster WBCQ, Allen Weiner, has tried his hand at offshore broadcasting. Radio New York International held New York City at rapt attention for a few glorious days in 1987 until the Coast Guard and the FCC raided the ship, smashed the equipment, and arrested all on board with malice aforethought, including a reporter for the Village Voice.

Today there are still thriving pirate radio scenes. Every weekend between 6900 and 6955 kHz there are flea-powered broadcasters grinding their axes. Andy Yoder publishes a magazine, Hobby Broadcasting, that brings together the various threads, the shortwave RF geeks, the micropower FM radicals, and the netcasters. The Free Radio Network is the online epicenter of the movement. And Allen Weiner, despite having gone legit after a long history of pirate broadcasting, is still trying to get a shipboard broadcaster on the air. His most recent attempts have centered around Belize. And maybe that's the answer to your question, Doc.

Posted at 8:30 AM

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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