The Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communication Commission descended on three New York broadcasters to notify them — and everyone reading through the FCC’s Daily Digest — that they must cease communications.
The three alleged operators of the pirate stations — Joseph Rodney, Everton Ladrick and Earl Armoogan — are all from the Bronx, and were brought to the FCC’s attention after receipt of complaints that unlicensed broadcasts were operating on frequency 105.7 MHz (Rodney) and 92.5 MHz (Ladrick and Armoogan, who are listed as residing at the same address).
The New York Enforcement Bureau office used direction-finding techniques on both frequencies to determine that the field strength of the signals emanating on those frequencies in the Bronx exceeded the maximum permitted level for unlicensed devices.
“Unlicensed operation of this radio station must be discontinued immediately,” the FCC said in a notice released on Dec. 28. Potential penalties include a monetary fine, seizure of the radio equipment and criminal sanctions including imprisonment. The individuals had 10 days to respond with evidence that they have FCC authority to operate; no word yet from the FCC on what — if any — response was received.
The issue of finding and shuttering down unlicensed or pirate radio operations remains a contentious process for the current commission. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that shutting down unlicensed broadcast stations is a priority, but has admitted that the process is a slippery slope, as the FCC sends out warnings only to find that some unauthorized broadcasts cease moved to a new location or frequency. During a Nov. 17 FCC oversight hearing held in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the chairman asked Congress to give the FCC legislative support against pirate radio operators. “Congress could make it illegal to aid or abet pirate radio operations and deny them the opportunity to operate in this way,” Wheeler said then. “This would be a significant means of thwarting the continued growth of pirate radio.”
New York in particular has been plagued by unlicensed and pirate radio operations. “Radio frequency disruptions can cause significant problems for citizens throughout New York, and especially in New York City,” Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a joint letter to the FCC last summer. “We urge you to continue to use all possible enforcement tools to address this issue, and to devote what resources you can to help prevent these types of disruptions in New York.”