Fuckin' Radio has turned 100. Five years of low-watt, battery-powered,
indie-as-fuck, hip-hop slam rebellion, flying below the FCC scanner
and above the city's power structure, uncensored beat-banging
airwave anarchyIs it just a coincidence that Pirate Fuckin'
Radio arrived the same time as the Zapatistas emerged triumphant
in indigenous Mexico's Lacandon Forest?
To Irish punk-turned-turntable provocateur Billy Jam, the end
of a shining college radio career was the beginning of a free
radio mission. "In 1994, I got an advance release of Public
Enemy's new album Muse Sick-N-Hour Message which I played
in its entirety on KUSF without bleeping out all the curses,"
he says. Oops. End of show.
But when Jam met international pirate radio avatar Stephen Dunifer
and his chief technician Captain Fred, the leaders of a bedroom
station in the Berkeley Hills on Sunday evenings, destiny was
sealed. "Captain Fred told me that micro-powered radio would
be the perfect home for Hip Hop Slama place where the art
of hip hop would no longer be censored or tampered with in any
Under the FCC-free slogan, "Fuck The Bullshit", Jam
revived Hip Hop Slam. "Taking example from something I'd
seen the folks at Maximum Rock-n-Roll do I started dubbing off
these Pirate Fuckin' Radio shows onto cassette and mailing
them to any stations that would rebroadcast them." The show
was "picked up" across the country, including stations
like San Francisco Liberation Radio, Free Radio Santa Cruz, Steal
This Radio (NYC), Pirate Radio Seattle, KBUD (Mendocino, CA) and
808 The Bomb (Miami).
Free Radio Berkeley was finally forced off the air by the FCC
in June 1998. "In a show of good faith we decided to give
the FCC time to create a low power radio service for local communities,"
says Captain Fred. "They don't care that we have no access
to the media, which has been bought up by huge corporations. They
don't care that freedom of speech has been sold to the highest
bidder in government sanctioned auctions." The Free Radio
Berkeley crew's push for legal low-power station is still being
discussed in the sterile halls of federal agencies.
(For more information, see www.fcc.gov).
Many of the former FRB volunteers can now be heard on the new
Berkeley Liberation Radio (104.1FM). Hip Hop Slam continues on
D'z Nutts, the rap pirate station in Vallejo, CA.
On March 13th, 1996 Jam organized a whole day of Pirate Fuckin'
Radiothe first hip-hop event of its kind-broadcast from
the oily scaffoldings of an auto shop two doors down from San
Francisco's DNA Lounge. On the club stage, the Invisibl Skratch
Piklz, The Coup, DJ Shadow and Latyrx and the Conscious Daughters
were broadcast worldwide via transmitter and over the Internet.
"I wanted to make the point that there should be an all rap
radio station that plays uncensored music", says Jam. He
succeeded. FCC vans cruised up and down 11th Street all day and
night, but never found the signal source. Another victory for
the little guys.
In truth, there's nothing like the rush of a good pirate radio
broadcast. Free radio is the sound of the edge, skirting outside
society's rules, penetrating inside your private space. "No
censorship, no commercials, no silly rules," says Jam. "It's
total artistic freedomthe way radio as an art should always
This CD, a document of Pirate Fuckin' Radio's 100th anniversary
show, captures the best of Hip Hop Slam's five fuckin' great years
on the illegal pirate airwaves. Enjoy it, get inspired, and go
do it yourself.
written by Jeff "DJ Zen"
Chang and taken from CD's liner notes