Have I found a pirate radio station in Chicago?
October 17, 2007 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Have I found a pirate radio station in Chicago?

I have an itrip which uses 87.9, the only usable frequency in Chicago, and everytime I get within 2 or 3 blocks of Western and Lawrence I hear old Dragnet radio shows. The signal is pretty powerful and makes my itrip useless for a couple of blocks. Needless to say this is extremely annoying whenever I pass in the area. I've done some web searches but I cant find anything that should be on that frequency in the city. There are no commercials or call letters. Its just dragnet 24/7.

This is driving me crazy as I find myself in that area more frequently nowadays. If I report them to the FCC will they shut them down? Is there anything I can do? I wouldnt mind this so much if it wasnt so damn powerful.

Changing frequencies on my itrip isnt an option. Its 87.9 or nothing in this city.
posted by damn dirty ape to Technology (10 answers total)
This search at the FCC for 87.9 MHz in Chicago found nothing. So, I think it's safe to say the transmitter is unlicensed. It might be low enough power to be legal, but maybe not.

Along the lines of what WCityMike says, this FCC decision (of a bust of a pirate station) notes that "FM broadcast operation on frequency 87.9 MHz is limited for use only by licensed noncommercial educational FM broadcast stations that have been required by the FCC to change frequency."
posted by exogenous at 8:38 AM on October 17, 2007

The California station, I think, is this -- Pirate Cat Radio. Maybe the Chicago station is an homage?
posted by Mid at 9:34 AM on October 17, 2007

I worked with Pirate Cat for 18 months, just recently left them earlier this year. We do play radio dramas that probably include Dragnet episodes, but only from midnight to 2am, PST. Further, I wasn't aware of anyone in Chicago rebroadcasting us; we only transmit in San Francisco and LA.

The FCC probably already knows about them, and hasn't done anything about it because it's only affecting a couple of blocks' area. Their resources are very limited; Pirate Cat has operated for ten years in the bay area and never been raided. The FCC knows all about them but doesn't care enough to bother hassling them.
posted by autojack at 9:45 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: I doubt its a rebroadcast. I get this at all times of the day.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:13 AM on October 17, 2007

I'd bet this guy knows something.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:00 PM on October 17, 2007

So might this guy.
posted by mykescipark at 3:56 PM on October 17, 2007

Maybe it's somebody running one of these (no affiliation or endorsement implied). I'd be surprised if it's not more powerful than your rig. If that's what it is, I doubt the FCC would do anything.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:20 PM on October 17, 2007

Drop in on your local amateur radio club's meeting, and see if anyone with foxhunt (direction-finding) equipment is up for a game.
posted by Myself at 5:14 AM on October 18, 2007

Another possibility is that someone is using a satellite receiver with the "re-transmit" option.

Sirius redesigned their units a while back because of complaints from consumers that the signals from the original units was overpowering other receivers in the vicinity.
posted by Irontom at 11:42 AM on October 18, 2007

Response by poster: I'm not so sure about the sirius/xm connection. Neither company offers a 24/7 Dragnet channel. I am familiar with how powerful those transmitters are. If I pull up to a truck on the expressway my signal often gets overriden by Rush Limbaugh or country music. This area effect measures about 20 feet or so. What I'm getting in Chicago measures almost 4 city blocks and a few blocks more if you consider that my radio is statically as it approaches the dragnet radio station.

Im just leaning towards some asshole with more equipment than manners over-riding everyone's signals just because he can. I think I'm just going to write this out for the FCC.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:54 AM on October 18, 2007

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