In Internet age, pirate radio arises as surprising adversary

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

IRVINGTON, N.J. (AP) — In the age of podcasts and streaming services, you might think pirate radio is low on the list of concerns of federal lawmakers and broadcasters. You'd be wrong.

They're increasingly worried about its presence in some cities as unlicensed broadcasters commandeer frequencies to play anything from Trinidadian dance music to Haitian call-in shows. And they complain the Federal Communications Commission can't keep up with pirates.

The rogue broadcasters can block listeners from hearing favorite programs or emergency alerts for missing children and severe weather.

Pirates are helped along by cheaper technology and can cover several blocks or several square miles. Most broadcast to immigrant communities that pirate radio defenders say are underserved by licensed stations.

The FCC has been discussing possible solutions, such as penalizing pirate radio advertisers, and last month urged landlords and government officials to be on the lookout for rogue broadcasters.