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FCC Ramps Up Pirate Hunt in N.Y., N.J.

One operator warned after agents detected high levels of RF radiation

Lawmakers have long complained that New York and New Jersey have been a hotbed of pirate radio activity. Recent enforcement actions from the Federal Communications Commission seem to be proving that out.

In the first week of June, the New York enforcement bureau sent three notices of unlicensed operation to alleged pirate operators in New York; Mount Vernon, N.Y.; and Passaic, N.J.; for operating radio stations at levels that exceed permitted levels.

And on one case, an alleged operator was warned that high doses of radio frequency radiation were an issue.

After a complaint of an unlicensed FM station operating on the frequency 95.3 MHz in New York, agents used direction-finding techniques to determine that radio signals were emanating from the apartment of Maria Santiago.

Even more serious, the field strength of the signal was measured at a whopping 823,656 µV/m, which exceeds the maximum permitted level of 250 µV/m. This led the bureau to warn Santiago that there are rules on the books that limit human exposure to radiofrequency radiation emitted by radio transmitters. Agents from the New York Office determined that the RF radiation caused by the radio signals emanating from Santiago’s apartment exceed those limits by a significant margin.

A similar pirating situation occurred 16 miles away in Passaic where agents confirmed that radio signals on frequency 99.9 MHz were emanating from a residence on Gregory Ave. belonging to Martin Sanchez. Agents heard the radio station identify itself as “La Poderosa 99.9 FM.” In this case, the field strength of the signal on frequency 99.9 MHz was measured at 354,837 µV/m, which exceeds the maximum 250 µV/m maximum.

Half a state away in Mount Vernon, N.Y., enforcement agents visited the Sea Lounge Bar & Restaurant and issued a notice of unlicensed operation to Dexter Blake for allegedly illegally operating on frequency 104.5 MHz from that location. A similar warning was handed out earlier this month to George Brown at that same location. Brown was also identified as the operator of the station. The agents recorded field strength levels of 1,734 µV/m at the time.

In each case, agents warned the alleged operators that unlicensed operation of these stations must be discontinued immediately. Each has been given 10 days to respond with any evidence that they have authority to operate.