Over the years, many
people have asked me, "How in the world did you get involved in
underground broadcasting?". The answer requires a little background
Going all the way back
to my earliest days on Earth, I'd always been around radio. On the
windowsill in the kitchen of my parent's house
(back in Midwood,
Brooklyn) we had a white Panasonic radio (a 60s-vintage, plastic
thing). My Mom
always had WABC on that radio, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I
would sit at the kitchen table after school and do my homework while
she put dinner together and listened to Big Dan Ingram day after day
after day. The one thing that always stood out in my mind was the
fact that he sounded like he was having FUN. It was probably then
that the seeds were planted.
It was always Big Dan in
the afternoon and Harry in the morning. Summers at Manhattan Beach
meant the sounds of
WABC everywhere you went. The only disruption in
this daily routine would be when a Yankee game was on - and the
sounds of Phil Rizzuto, Bill White and Frank Messer would
temporarily pre-empt the audio flow.
Later on, my brother and
I would listen to WXLO (99X) a lot at night. But it was still WABC
the rest of the time. When the Disco Era began, that finally pushed
my Dad over the edge. The first time I got in
the car and heard "93...WPAT...where it's always beautiful"
- instead of WABC - was a rude awakening, indeed. The
kitchen radio suddenly switched to 1010 WINS, too.
I was probably around 8
or 9 when I first started to experiment with this odd hobby of DXing,
or listening to distant signals on the radio. As such, I knew enough
about the AM and FM bands to know where all the radio stations
were, even the out-of-town ones. I also didn't sleep much (that
One night during the
winter of 1976, my brother came into my room and announced that he
thought he had found a "pirate" station. "What's THAT?", I asked. He
explained that it was a station that "wasn't supposed to be there".
Sure enough, he had found a station at the end of the AM dial past
1600 called WCPR, with hosts "John Doe" and "Perry Harris". Little
did I know at the time that we were listening to future pirate
stalwarts Hank Hayes ands Jim Nazium!
Every once in a while,
we would tune up the dial, and WCPR would be there. It took a while,
but Bro even mustered up the chutzpah to call in. Then all of a
sudden, they were gone. I wouldn’t know until years later that WCPR
had disappeared because it had fallen victim to an FCC bust. It
would be the first in a long line of scuffles with the Federal
Communications Commission for a couple of wild guys from Brooklyn!
For those that don't
know (and shame on you if you don't), Hank and Jim aren't just a
radio team - they have been good
friends since childhood. They grew up together on the same floor of
the same apartment complex in Brooklyn, and have been broadcasting
in one form or another (with and without license) ever since young James Nazium
first figured out how to take a standard FM radio and turn it into a
mini-transmitter. More on these aforementioned infamous broadcasting
exploits (and how the three of us came to meet) to follow...
Months after WCPR vanished forever, Bro and I would hear another
"pirate" station - in
the same spot as WCPR - called WFAT. The D.J.s sure sounded like the WCPR
guys, but now they had new names – Hal Hall (Hank) and Larry McRae
(Jim) – and the station sure sounded more polished and professional,
with jingles and everything.
We figured it out pretty quickly
and became rabid "FAT Radio" fans and regular
callers. Alas, after a little over a year, the FCC came calling
once again. This time...to much greater fanfare.
it's a genuine WCPR-AM QSL Card, (front AND back)! Like they say
at the Viagra web site, click on the thumbnails to enlarge.
reprint of an article about WCPR after the bust from local
Brooklyn newspaper The Kingsman. Click thumbnail to see the full