One thing is clear: pirate radio is illegal. We take a look back at 15 years of nonviolent civil disobedience.
My first encounter with pirate radio was when I was 16. I was visiting a kibbutz in Israel, and while we picked potatoes or assembled irrigation piping, we’d listen to rock ’n’ roll coming from what turned out to be a pirate radio station. Between songs a deep voice would announce: “From somewhere in the Mediterranean this is The Voice of Peace.” Like Radio Caroline off the British coast in the ‘60s and ’70s, these were renegades that broadcast without government approval, outside of capitalist culture.
Pirate radio stations—on land or at sea— have long been a part of social justice movements worldwide by promoting positive change and artistic creativity through an independent media. In 1995 a group of activists in Santa Cruz continued the legacy by establishing Free Radio Santa Cruz at 89.3 on the FM dial. Like The Voice of Peace, FRSC also broadcasts from unknown locations, though reporters and government agents have periodically found their way to the DIY station. (Join FRSC in celebrating 15 years of unlicensed, commercial-free radio at 7 p.m. Saturday March 27 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center. A donation at the door is requested for an evening that will include speakers and live music.)