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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 information… 

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 hasn't changed).

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. 

 

 

 

Yes, 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.

       

A reprint of an article about WCPR after the bust from local Brooklyn newspaper The Kingsman. Click thumbnail to see the full article.

 

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