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Radio Free Santa Cruz Shut Down During Raid

Radio Free Santa Cruz Shut Down During Raid

Station Has Been Operating Without License For 10 Years

September 29, 2004

SANTA CRUZ,Calif. -- Armed federal marshals and Federal Communications Commission agents raided the studio of Free Radio Santa Cruz early Wednesday morning.

About a dozen federal agents closed down the station, confiscating all the broadcast equipment.

The supervising U.S. marshal said the station does not have a broadcast license, and, without one, the operation is illegal.

"(It is) a violation of FCC station rules and regulations, operating a radio station without license," said U.S. Marshal Cheryl Koel. "We have seized only property. It is not a criminal action against people. It is a civil action against property."

Free Radio Santa Cruz operated as an unlicensed radio station for the past 10 years.

Even though the plug was pulled, federal agents couldn't silence supporters of the all-volunteer, pirate radio station.

"They're seizing probably $5,000 worth of equipment," said a station spokesman called George.

The equipment is inside a home where 22 people live. Some tenants said they have nothing to do with the station.

Free Radio Santa Cruz programmers said they aren't surprised they were shut down.

"We've been on the air 10 years. We've been running an unlicensed station. It's always a chance. Every day you have to be prepared that this could happen," George said.

In the past, some city leaders have thrown their support behind the unlicensed radio station. Even Mayor Scott Kennedy condemned the raid.

"I'm not out here to intervene or obstruct what they're doing. I think it's in gross contrast with the sentiment of this community," Kennedy said.

Station members vow to reconnect with their hometown audience as quickly as they can.

"We're going to go back on the air. Probably, some other location at this time. But eventually, we're going to pop back on," said programmer Skidmark Bob.

No one was arrested during the raid.

Action News contacted the FCC, which would not comment on the case. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office also offered us a "no comment."

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