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    Default Pirate radio signals in Nederland, Ward go dark in wake of FCC action

    From The Boulder Daily Camera:

    Pirate radio signals in Nederland, Ward go dark in wake of FCC action
    KNED and Way High Radio now broadcasting online-only

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    Gretchen Vahle holds a sign at the start of the Frozen Dead Guy Days parade in Nederland on March 12, 2016. KNED 93.1 FM, an unlicensed radio station that
    Gretchen Vahle holds a sign at the start of the Frozen Dead Guy Days parade in Nederland on March 12, 2016. KNED 93.1 FM, an unlicensed radio station that had been broadcasting in Nederland since 2010, shut down this week following a visit from the FCC but operators hope to get it up and running again by this year's Frozen Dead Guy Days, which the station traditionally broadcasts.

    A pair of unlicensed radio stations that for years had broadcast music, community events and more from high in the Boulder County foothills fell silent this week after reporting visits by the Federal Communications Commission.

    The operators of Nederland's KNED 93.1 FM and Ward's KWHR 90.5 FM each shut down their over-the-air broadcasts Wednesday following what appears to be increased focus by the FCC on pirate radio in Boulder County.

    "We are under attack from the FCC," the broadcasters behind KWHR, known as Way High Radio, declared on their Facebook page.

    Neither ever had been visited by the feds before, according to representatives of the two stations, though a predecessor Radio Free Ned, broadcast out of an accountant's office was shut down by the FCC in 2002 after eight years on the air.

    Will Wiquist, the FCC's deputy press secretary, would not confirm whether the commission took any enforcement action in Boulder County this week.

    Nikki P. Shears, director of the FCC's Denver District Office, did not respond to interview requests Thursday.

    But pseudonymous disc jockeys at both stations confirmed visits by FCC representatives to their respective mountain towns on Wednesday.

    Ig, a DJ with KNED, said the FCC served the 8-year-old Nederland frequency with what he termed a cease-and-desist notice, which prompted the station to shut down its FM signal and go online-only.

    In Ward, the FCC presumably had no trouble finding Way High Radio's studio, which, according to the station's website, sits next to town hall. The station has broadcast since 1997, aside from a break from 2009 to 2011.

    "They showed up and no one was in the studio," DJ Porsche Steve said. "So they went next door to the post office, and said, 'What's going on?' And the gal at the post office said, 'I don't know, I've got nothing to do with it.'

    "So they left, and we turned off our signal."

    Way High also is continuing to broadcast online, and posted a long statement on Facebook on Thursday afternoon urging listeners to contact their government representatives about the FCC's visit.

    "This action threatens the safety of our mountain community," Way High said in the statement, recounting how the station broadcast vital emergency information during the Cold Springs Fire in 2016. "Many people up here do not have internet, cell coverage is spotty at best, ham radio coverage is limited and reverse 911 has failed in the past."

    'Very, very hot' station in Longmont

    The high-country enforcement follows the FCC taking note of a pirate signal launched late last year in Longmont. FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly scolded an online news outlet for publishing an article noting the station's existence in December.

    "Over the last year, the FCC has increased enforcement actions in order to cease pirate radio operations throughout the nation," O'Rielly wrote in a letter to the Longmont Observer. "It would be helpful if Longmont citizens and the Observer assisted this effort by, at a minimum, refusing to listen to or support such 'stations.'"

    In his letter, O'Rielly argued "pirate radio can cause real harm to Coloradans" because such stations don't comply with federal regulations or facilitate the over-the-air Emergency Alert System during public safety events.

    "We were kind of expecting" the FCC visit, KNED's Ig said, "because of the station in Longmont, which really kind of pushed the envelope for the FCC."

    That Longmont outlet, launched as KROC 106.5 FM, "was very, very hot," Ig said, explaining that it seemed to broadcast at a much stronger frequency than most pirates dare in a relatively urban area. "And it got press."

    At least one other pirate-radio operator in Boulder has been the subject of recent federal attention. A broadcaster who's long been the target of local FCC enforcers told the Daily Camera he has been cited three times this month.

    It's not clear if the feds have hit Boulder's Green Light Radio, one of the area's most prominent radio pirates, and, along with the Nederland and Ward stations, a member of the Colorado Community Radio Network.

    Green Light Radio's operators did not respond to an interview request.

    'They turn themselves back on again'

    But it's Green Light Radio and its predecessor the long-running, on-again, off-again KBFR Boulder Free Radio that the mountain stations point to as they consider their paths forward.

    The DJs from Way High Radio and KNED both noted that Green Light and KBFR had been hit with repeated notices of unauthorized operation by the FCC over the years citations that essentially tell illicit broadcasters to shut down.

    But no further action such as forfeitures, which can carry tens of thousands of dollars in penalties have been undertaken.

    "My understanding is there's people at Boulder Free Radio and Green Light Radio that have been visited by the FCC numerous times, and as soon as the FCC's car turns the corner, they turn themselves back on again," Porsche Steve said. "I'm not sure why we didn't do that."

    The FCC's online database of pirate radio enforcement shows 32 enforcement actions against unlicensed radio operators in Colorado since 2005; 20 of those were in Boulder alone. But they all were essentially warnings.

    In a recent interview with Inside Radio, FCC enforcement chief Rosemary Harold said, "For every pirate radio operator, we probably have now at least three or four, if not more, reportable actions before we start an initiative to shut them down."

    KNED's Ig said he hopes to see the Nederland station up and running again before the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in March, an event the station traditionally has broadcast for local listeners.

    "One reason KNED has been left alone is it's a long ways away, and it doesn't step on anybody's signal," Ig said. "We don't have advertising. We just play music and broadcast live events.

    "It's pretty disappointing that they don't just leave us alone."

    Web-only for now

    Nederland's KNED 93.1 FM and Ward's KWHR 90.5 FM both halted their unlicensed radio broadcasts this week after they say they were visited by FCC officials. But both continue to broadcast online.






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