pirate radio WCPR WFAT WHOT RFNY oldies top-40
rock and roll
As with most pirates, WFAT
existed to fill a missing niche in the New York radio market at the
time: the total lack lack of any locally-originated, AM, late-night,
open topic talk shows. Everywhere you turned on the AM dial you
heard Larry King - and that was pretty much it. WFAT achieved
legendary status as a pirate station due to its pro sound and killer
signal that could be heard across much of the eastern U.S. (the luck
of having a fantastic antenna location) and acquired listeners very
quickly that grew with each broadcast. In some ways, that may have
been its undoing.
Jim had gotten wise to
the fact that they were under FCC surveillance. He began getting
strange interference on his TV and tuned to hear what it was. It was
the FCC agents talking to each other on their walkie talkies. Yep,
the FCC - causing interference. There's a joke in there somewhere.
In fact, WFAT had been
under investigation for months. The guys would find out later when
looking at their file (see below) that by sheer luck, they would
miss nights when the FCC was trying to monitor them and go on nights
when they weren't. However, knowing that the heat was on, they
decided to do one more "goodbye for now show" and lie low for a
WFAT signed on April 14th, 1979 to say goodbye - at least
until things calmed down a little. As they were preparing to wrap up
the show. Jim noticed the courtyard below filling up with
official-looking vehicles, out of which FCC agents began running
into the building. "Hal" and "Larry" announced that the FCC was on
the way up, and immediately pulled the plug on the show, dismantling
the transmitter and cutting the long wire antenna. The FCC agents
were not fooled.
After the bust, the guys
sent out a letter to the listeners that were on the mailing list
explaining what had happened. As word spread about what had happened
to WFAT, there was a great deal of interest what Hank and Jim were
doing. They were interviewed by many publications, as well as a
flurry of TV and Radio appearances. There was even a
screenplay developed that might be a movie today, had the writer not
fumbled the ball.
There were excellent articles that
printed in the local New York papers, including the Times, and many
magazine pieces as well. The guys also did many TV interviews as
well to talk about FAT’s popularity and the bust.
For a while, there was
some question as to what the next step would be for a pair of
erstwhile Brooklyn broadcasters. Needless to say, it wasn't long
before there were more rumblings on the radio dial.
all the notoriety that WFAT would receive, it was only a hint of
what was to come next. Things were about to start getting REAL
the world-famous WFAT-AM QSL card - front and back - which was
sent to dozens of FAT Radio listeners! Click on the thumbnails
Long-time WFAT fan Robert Swirsky was nice enough to send
us TWO WFAT mailers - one from right before the
bust (left) and one from right after (right). Thanks,
Another shot of "Hal" and "Larry" in their natural habitat at
WFAT (before the FCC bust). Click thumbnail to enlarge image.
Click on the right to see the "Bust Notification Letter" that
was sent to listeners. This is the actual copy that was sent to
my brother (Dated 4-15-79)!
***NEW VIDEO!*** CBS-TV newsmagazine "No Holds Barred"
airs a feature report on the
FCC Bust of WFAT (see your favorite FCC agents live and in
Click images on the
right to see
excerpts from the FCC’s case report of WFAT’s surveillance and
eventual shutdown. The actual report is much longer, but this will
give you a good idea of how much manpower and time was used to bring
WFAT down. Your tax dollars hard at work!
One of the better
pieces on WFAT, from the New York Times(4-21-79).
(UPDATE: Quality upgrade of this article provided by
George Maroti. Thanks, George!)
of the many articles written about the WFAT bust from (of all
places), OUI magazine(May 1981).