What you need:
A Studio Transmitter Link Setup (this is placed in someone’s back yard with the antenna mounted in a tree or on the roof).
Gear: Total cost for new equipment: $5000 (max).
– FM transmitter. Best ones cost about $3000 and are from Broadcast Warehouse out of England or progressive concepts in the united states. It is advised to get a transmitter with a low pass filter and a stereo exciter. The filter ensures no interference with television and air traffic control signals (which are the big violations to the FCC and very viable reasons for the police to issue a warrant.) There are also outlets in canada and other locations but they are typically just reselling the chinese manufactured transmitters which lack a lot of components I mentioned and have, historically, always been very poorly made.
– A Comet 5/8ths wave antenna. They’re easy to tune to the frequency you want on the dial and have a near perfect circular broadcast range
– 100 feet of 50ohm cable. Get it when you buy the antenna.
– A cheap laptop. An old one with a wimpy processor works fine. install a free remote access program to control the computer from any location with internet. I suggest using teamviewer and telling them its for personal use and they will give you the program for free.
-An outdoor plastic case (to put all this gear into unless it will be indoors). Get it at Home Depot for $50.
(warning, this container method should include a ventilation fan and good ways to deal with heat exhaust and there will be tutorials eventually on making solid outdoor housing structures. )
-A small mixer (Behringer makes a great one for $50).
-An internet connection.
All of this gear is plugged together to make a working remote radio station
The following describes what a classic independent station should use for a studio, but there are methods to running a station without a studio as well, as noted later in this section
-Another computer with a library of music and an internet connection
-Another Behringer mixer.
-A decent microphone. You can get one at Best Buy for $30.
-An account with a streaming service for internet radio, there are very cheap options out there that can be pointed out.
What you’re going to do is set up a studio that feeds an internet stream of your show to the server you purchased internet streaming from. You’re then going to log into that stream from the cheap laptop sitting in the box, which is plugged into the transmitter which is plugged into the antenna. You get power from the house and you get internet from either a cable running from the houses internet or from a solid wifi connection between the house and your cheap laptop.
By separating the Pirate DJ from the transmitter, and giving the house where you’ve got the transmitter plausible deniability, you can play a cat and mouse game with the FCC for years as there procedures don’t allow for a raid or seizure without law enforcement aid. Remember, the FCC is a REGULATORY agency, not an ENFORCEMENT agency. Only law enforcement can seize your equipment with a proper warrant. This is why it is encouraged to not antagonize your local police department, as the first thing you learn is that your most dedicated listeners will be those who drive in your frequency range. That means taxis, pizza delivery guys, and the police. So keep that in mind, but of course the intent of your station is up to you.
When (not if) the FCC shows up, your remote transmitter setup is going to want to be inspected and then seized by the agents. The person hosting that site simply says: “I thought it was some ham radio thing. I met a guy at a party that asked if they could put it in our back yard because we had a good location and they’d pay our internet bill for us. We had no idea it was an FM transmitter!!”. The FCC may buy it, they may not, either way there belief is not legally binding and they have to do the same thing everytime: Ask your host to turn it off (which they do immediately) and then if they can have the setup (the answer is: “No, it’s not mine”). The FCC will have what they want: It’s off. So they leave. They may leave a Notice of Apparent Liability. This is a letter that says ‘show us your license to run this or turn it off in 10 days’. No license, but it’s off. They win. They leave.
Your host then calls you. You come some hours later (giving the FCC time to clear out of the area) and you set it up at your next host location (which you’ve hopefully already set up and prepared). Downtime is usually 24 hours or less if you prepared a back up host. Your hosts are (usually) also your DJ’s. Or, they’re friends and fans of the station.
Not Having A Studio
For some radio stations, it is more efficient and makes more sense to not have a centralized location for all DJs, or sometimes not everyone can use the studio due to transportation or timeframe needs. This is where internet relay streaming comes in handy. Essentially, all you are doing is buying two more internet streams with low listeners. These streams will be used by your DJs to connect to and these streams will only be listened to by the radio stations main stream. This does cause a multiple second delay from what is said over the internet to what is heard on FM, but it also allows any of your DJ’s with a solid internet connection to be rebroadcast over the main relay without having to be in studio. This also secures more degrees of seperation for the DJ’s and also allows the possibility of rebroadcasting live events as well. (provided the event has a solid internet connection you can upload too and a sound board to connect to.)
Some basic ideas/rules we suggest you follow:
Never use real names. Everyone has a handle. Everyone uses it. No one knows each others real names. This is easier than you think and fun at parties (yell across the room “hey Beerguy.. I saw JuiceBag yesterday” can be very enteraining to the other guests).
Keep your studio and transmitter separate.
No one under 18, no drugs and no guns in the studio. Ever. This will discredit all other intentions, and smoking should also be banned as cigarette smoke will destroy your audio equipment quickly with the build up of the tar on the internal components.
Have Fun! I will take a quote from Rocky Flats of Green Light Radio:
“Sure, politically crazy and frantic folks can fill your pirate airwaves, and you can fight against the man if you like. Or maybe you just want to play some good tunes cause your so angry at Clear Channel for overloading us with the same limited playlist. Or maybe you want to unite your community even more than they are. Just know, that if you have fun with it, you will always move forward and others will be a part of that excitement with you. You just have to start. ”