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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 while.

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.

For 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 interesting…!

It's the world-famous WFAT-AM QSL card - front and back - which was sent to dozens of FAT Radio listeners! Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

       

***NEW!!!*** 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, Robert!!!

    

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 color)! (1980)

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!)

One of the many articles written about the WFAT bust from (of all places), OUI magazine (May 1981).

 

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