If, like me, you're among the thinking few, you're pretty disgusted with what passes for radio these days. Turn anywhere on your FM dial, and you're likely to hear the sound of some enormous multinational media conglomerate anesthetizing the masses with its spoon-fed pablum. From Hot 96 to Z-104, these stations are all the same: pre-packaged, focus-grouped DJs selling a bill of false goods to lobotomized teens who don't know the difference between revolution and repetition. Even non-commercial, so-called "public" radio is just a cog in the Great American Money Machine.
Well, I, for one, have had enough. It's time to shake up the status quo and put a little fear in the heart of the Establishment. Yes, consider this an official declaration of war: Look out, Corporate America, here comes my pirate radio station!
Last Friday, Radio Free Tate, the city's first and only broadcast forum for the disenfranchised voices of the country, went on the air. Located somewhere between 89.5 and 91.3 FM, Radio Free Tate is going to let corporate America have it with both barrels: the truths they're afraid to say and the songs they're afraid to play.
I may not have the broadcast range of a big station, but I compress a whole lot of rebellion into a six-block radius. You'd better believe this mouse is going to roar.
And, unlike the rest of the world, I'm not interested in feeding my audience a steady diet of nothing. While most radio listeners are complacently soaking in the latest teeny-pop brain sedative or the semi-digested pap of the Tweedledee & Tweedledum Morning Zoo show, I'm out there telling it like it is. I'm not afraid to talk about the class war against the poor, the deplorable state of popular music, or the sham election that put Dubya into the Whitewash House. Corporate America, you'd better watch your backside, because there's a new sheriff on your radio dial!
I had no idea starting a pirate radio station would be so easy. All I needed was a microphone, a PLL transmitter, a Comet antenna, a 20-watt dummy load kit, a 6-watt amplifier, some old Minor Threat and Bad Brains records, and a self-constructed broadcast booth in my basement. It's so simple, I'm surprised more people don't do it. Then again, how many people have the guts? After all, I'm living outside the law. I know for a fact that the government and the corporate fatcats would love to shut me down. They don't want people to hear what I'm dishing out. Well, tough! I'm going to bring The Man to his knees, one song at a time.
A bunch of my friends have already said that when they're in my neighborhood, they keep their radios tuned to Radio Free Tate. You're probably thinking they're just saying that because they're my friends, but they're not. Where else are they going to hear Black Flag's "TV Party" followed by a scathing anti-PepsiCo editorial followed by Gang Of Four's "Guns Before Butter"? On K-Rock? I think not.
A desperately needed home for alternative ideas, Radio Free Tate will provide a forum for the forumless, a voice for the voiceless. I tried doing a call-in segment last Saturday, but the masses weren't quite ready for it after spending so many years imprisoned in corporate radio's shackles. (A case of Stockholm Syndrome if there ever was one.) All I got were two 12-year olds making fart noises with their hands and requests for (ugh) Ja Rule and (double ugh) Nickelback. Clearly, these people are so hooked on the Pop Narcotic, they lack the faculties to appreciate my blend of hardcore punk with take-no-prisoners commentary on Generalissimo Bush's real motivations for the so-called war on terror.
When I'm not shooting truth straight from the hip, I'm getting down. While much of the playlist is drawn from classic SoCal and D.C. punk, you'll hear everything from Roky Erickson to Neu! to Burning Spear. I throw in some old-school hip-hop, some No Wave, a little spoken word, and some free jazz. Once, I played the entire Tony Conrad box set as a big "fuck you" to all the mainstream DJs who are too chickenshit to play experimental composers. And, once in a while, I take a cue from rap pioneer DJ Cool Herc and mix it up by "scratching" my records. Try finding that on your average station!
I'd encourage all of you to tune in to Radio Free Tate. Like I said, it's somewhere between 89.5 and 91.3 on your radio dial—depending on which side of Maplewood Street you're on. Before long, you'll be able to find our listening area simply by paying attention to who suddenly goes through a political revival. They'll start using less, caring more, and voting with their hearts and minds rather than their wallets. And they'll be listening to the best mix of music you won't hear anywhere else. Find that neighborhood, and you've found Radio Free Tate.
Oh, and one more thing: Corporate America can suck it.