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You Got Served ...

You Got Served ...


On Sept. 28, just as Nüz was fantasizing about taking a Wednesday news nap, our hotline went crazy with SOS calls, warning that U.S. MARSHALS and FCC agents were raiding pirate station FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ. Hotfooting it across town, we found a knot of FRSC DJs and supporters gathered outside the house on Laurel Street which is home to the ZAMI housing co-op--and has hosted the pirate station in its basement since May. This latter arrangement ended at around 8:30am that morning, which is when federal marshals woke Zami residents with shouts of "We have a warrant! Come down!" -- hardly the best way to wake up in the best of weather, but especially not when it's so cold and foggy outside. Anyways, hoping this was all just a bad dream, bedheaded and pajama-clad residents tumbled downstairs, only to be greeted by gun-toting officers, who promptly frisked the lot of them, before toppling the pirate station's antenna. In the process, they ixnayed a Howard Zinn broadcast on the essentialness of art in wartime, which they should have known would fuel speculation that the bust was yet another attempt by an increasingly desperate Bush to muzzle free speech before November's election.

Deeming the bust "a tragedy and a travesty," as officers hauled off an estimated $5,000 worth of equipment in red and white-striped boxes, FRSC's JOHN MALKIN listed reasons for the bust: "We're a threat. We don't have a license. We generally don't share the same values as the U.S. government. We're non-violence based and we present a lot of independent, local and national news critical of U.S. domestic and foreign policy."

ROBERT "SKIDMARK BOB" DURAN called the bust "A sad day for free speech," while VINNE "V-MAN LOMBARDI said that under the FCC's current licensing scheme, "Free Radio Santa Cruz is ineligible for a license even if the collective wanted one, since the FCC excludes anyone who has previously broadcast without a license" (which describes what V-Man and other FRScers did at 807 Laurel St. and three other local sites).

... We Got Campaigned ...

The bust also gave local politicians on the campaign trail a chance to make their positions known, beginning with City Council incumbent MARK PRIMACK, who stated that the council passed a resolution in support of FRSC months ago, after marshals first showed up at 807 Laurel St, (a visit that occurred five days after the station started broadcasting there, at which point marshals were denied entry, because they had no warrant).

"Always the question in Santa Cruz is 'Are we being targeted?' And I don't think we are. Some rockabilly station was also busted recently," said Primack, in what Nüz assumes was a reference to the FCC bust one week earlier of Tennessee's KNOXVILLE FIRST AMENDMENT RADIO.

Meanwhile, City Council challenger TONY MADRIGAL, whose white-and-green campaign sign was strategically stuck in the front yard of 807 Laurel St, popped up carrying a bullhorn to lead the crowd in a "Si Se Puede" chant.

Mayor SCOTT KENNEDY showed up to state that the current City Council "strongly supports Free Radio"; that the raid was a "waste of resources, especially in this climate of war"; and that this "curtailing freedom of speech was inappropriate." He also noted that the raid was entirely an FCC action, and that the SANTA CRUZ POLICE DEPARTMENT had neither cooperated nor was involved in it (although one SCPD officer reportedly responded when nine tires on five agents' cars were slashed, a poorly thought out attempt at payback that the SCPD plans to investigate, according to SCPD chief HOWARD SKERRY).

... They Got Irate

A couple of challengers in the 17th Congressional District race were also at the bust, with the GREEN PARTY'S RAY GLOCK GRUENICH telling Nüz that, if elected, he'd reserve a portion of the spectrum for microbroadcasting and drastically reduce the amount of market share a handful of media corporations can have, while a loudspeaker-clutching JOE WILLIAMS, who is the PEACE AND FREEDOM PARTY's congressional candidate, denounced the marshals as "tools of the FCC," and urged them to "Hurry up and leave, so we can get on with putting the station back on the air!"

It was at about this moment that supervising federal deputy CHERYL KOEL, whose shades and cheekbones suggested Blade Runner meets the Matrix, emerged from the student co-op to make a statement, first warning Glock, Williams and the rest of the crew: "If you're gonna be rude and crude, I won't continue." Nüz imagines they would have been devastated.

Koel then stated that three people had been served with civil court orders, that another individual had "run away," and that these orders advised them their equipment was being seized due to FCC licensing violations--and that they could all protest these orders in court.

Bust Blowback

FCC orders notwithstanding, within 24 hours of the bust, FRSC was up and streaming again via the Internet at -- and planning its return to the airwaves in defiance of federal regulations.

This week, 17th Congressional District incumbent SAM FARR fired off a letter to FCC chair MICHAEL POWELL stating Farr's belief "that the time and resources spent on this action could have been better focused on the FCC's larger mission of ensuring that the nation's airwaves serve the public interest."

Noting that just two months ago, the FCC held a public hearing in his district about, of all things, localism, Farr said, "It's my hope that through this public participation, the FCC will see that localized media, such as low-power radio stations, are an integral part of the national discourse."

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