We seek to understand and document all radio transmissions, legal and otherwise, as part of the radio listening hobby. We do not encourage any radio operations contrary to regulations. Always consult with the appropriate authorities if you have questions concerning what is permissable in your locale.

Author Topic: Undercover Radio 20th anniversary show  (Read 2118 times)

Offline Zoidberg

  • DX Legend
  • ******
  • Posts: 2364
  • Gopher Stomp, Texas
  • i c u
    • View Profile
    • Email
Undercover Radio 20th anniversary show
« on: August 31, 2008, 1034 UTC »
(Note: Technical details of signal report follow narrative.)

Undercover Radio 20th anniversary show.  6925 kHz USB, 8/31/08, 0101-0223 UTC.  Dr. Benway live show with history of Undercover Radio.  Started as Progressive Music Radio in 1986.  "It was kind of weird listening to those old tapes, you know, the dated music, cheesy sound effects," he said.

Played audio clips with Progressive Music Radio voice ID's with sound fx.  (My off-air recording is only fair with noise and fading.  Link to better off-air PMR recordings available courtesy of Ragnar Daneskjold: http://www.archive.org/details/PMR040406)

Story about his father making him get rid of Viking II transmitter years earlier, so he started over with different equipment when got back into pirate broadcasting during the mid-1980s while living in apartment complex.  Talked about climbing out of third story window to roof to put up antenna, despite slippery snow, and having to swing himself back through the window.  Sneaking telephone service to speed up listener feedback, instead of waiting months for feedback via magazines, only to discover his shows weren't listed.  Played taped shows, waited for phone calls from listeners, broadcasting from apartment.  Worried about investigations, eventually decided to go mobile.  Dr. Benway's familiar signature line: "Broadcasting from the middle of nowhere."

"I remember having a turntable, three cassette decks, one for ... music, one which I heavily modified so I could vary the speed for my vocal effects, and one to record the program tape.  I had an outboard Electro Harmonic equalizer ... some kind of old microphone I scavenged from an old tape deck.  QSLs and reception reports required a lot of patience."

"Tuning a pirate broadcast was a very iffy proposition.  You could go months without hearing a single broadcast."

Dr. Benway welcomed merging new technology with traditional radio.  "These days all you need is a computer, a microphone and some sound editing software.  You probably have thousands if not tens of thousands of mp3s to choose from ... thousands of songs are available right off the internet ... sound software has dozens of built in digital effects, EQ, digital delay ... everything you could possibly need."

He spoke of advantages to listeners.  "Within minutes of going on the air you know how well you're being heard from postings on the FRN online and chat rooms.  You get instant feedback.  And everyone can see the postings and tune you right in within moments of your going on the air.  It's all instant gratification."

"Even the mobile unit I'm broadcasting from tonight has a broadband internet connection ... I can check postings in real-time while cruising down the highway."

"Technology invented over 100 years ago is still in wide use.  But you still can't ignore the power of the internet."  Talked about the relevance of pirate radio despite the internet because it's relatively freer.  "You don't have to worry about copyrights... it allows me to broadcast whatever the hell I want without worrying about consequences."

But he adds, "There's always the obvious risk of being caught.  Never take pirate broadcasting for granted.  I'll always be looking over my shoulder."

"And there are definitely those who will embrace the legit hobby band and be happy to be able to broadcast legally.  But legal broadcasting is not for me.  It'd choke my creative freedom and ability to broadcast whatever I want, without consequence.  Pirate radio is in my blood."

"Commercial radio will never be free.  Pirate radio is free speech."

Dr. Benway promises special QSLs for valid reception reports of this show, but asks listeners to be patient while he prepares them.  Reports to:

Box 293
Ontario, CA

(Note: Ellipses in quotes indicate areas where signal fade and static made words or phrases unintelligible.  Rather than risk misquoting Dr. Benway I've taken the liberty of patching together what I could clearly copy from the audio clip. -- Lex)

6925 USB, 8/31/08
0101 UTC: Dr. Benway with air checks, "Hello, radio. Anyone out there this evening?"
0106z: "One, two... (mumbling)", asking listeners to e-mail him with signal reports.
0108z - Green Day "American Idiot", audio level a bit lower than Dr. Benway's voice, some fading.
0111z - Head East "Never Been Any Reason"
0117z - Dr. Benway with live voice ID, "...broadcasting from the middle of nowhere..." with e-mail and snail mail address for signal reports.  "Just testing things out a little bit..." Talking about looking forward to winter for better propagation conditions.
Audio clip: http://www.mediafire.com/?czlui2jgolp

0124z - Dr. Benway talking about 20th anniversary in pirate radio, saying that his earliest experiment went back to 1976 when his tests apparently blew up a TV.
SINPO - 33322, some "shwoop!" QRM tones, presumably utes. Good signal at times with fading.

0136z - Continuing with music (Peter Gabriel or Genesis), weaker signal, more fading now.
0138z - (Received e-mail confirmation from Dr. Benway, confirming this was a live show.)
0139z - Dr. Benway talking about the Viking transmitter he used years ago, broadcasting from an apartment complex, narrative about risking life and limb to put up antenna, with background bed of music. (Reminds me of free-from FM radio from the late 1960s-early '70s from a station in Connecticut I heard from rural Long Island. -- Lex)
0150z - Laurie Anderson.
SINPO - 24422

0209z - Dr. Benway continuing narrative comparing early days in pirate broadcasting with convenience of current technology, instant feedback from net logs and e-mail. Talks about embracing the best of new technology to enhance the traditional radio experience.
0217z - Sly and the Family Stone "Stand"
SINPO - 34322, very good signal at times with fades.
0223z - Dr. Benway with shout-outs to folks posting FRN logs. Much weaker now, longer fades, barely audible.

45 minute audio clip for most of final segment: http://www.mediafire.com/?hmemfq3imyy

Overall, SINPO - 33322, very good at times to both radios with indoor antennas, occasional deep fades.  (Palstar R30C with indoor antenna and Sony ICF-2010 on the whip.)

Thanks for the show, Dr. Benway, and happy anniversary!

(N. Central TX)
That li'l ol' DXer from Texas
Unpleasant Frequencies Crew
Al: Palstar R30C & various antennae
Snoopy: Sony ICF-2010
Roger: Magnavox D2935
(Off-air recordings.)

Offline corq

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 627
    • ICQ Messenger - 6176320
    • AOL Instant Messenger - uncorq
    • View Profile
    • corq dot co
Re: Undercover Radio 20th anniversary show
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2008, 1655 UTC »
Though I missed the later show, I caught the sound checks from Central FL, and was refreshing to hear the good Doctor!

Undercoverradio was my *first* QSL, and as most know, he sends exceptionally nice QSL packages.

I'm glad he's around and still comes up for transmissions when he can.

I am but a SWL'er with recent exposure to pirate radio via the bands, but it is great to know the dedicated operators are out there keeping this alive and (live!)

Thank you Dr Benway and Happy 20th Anniversary!!!

Icom IC-705/AirSpyHF+ Discovery via GR5V
plz qsl: corqpub ~at~ gmail.com
Captures posted to: http://youtube.com/uncorq
Kicks, Screams and Other Heresies: http://corq.co


  • Guest
Re: Undercover Radio 20th anniversary show
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2008, 2012 UTC »
"Tuning a pirate broadcast was a very iffy proposition.  You could go months without hearing a single broadcast."


Then one day, conditions will allow a flea fart in Halifax to propagate to Vancouver and BINGO! There's nothing like the exhilaration :D



Item image   Simple Low Cost Wire Antennas by William Orr W6SAI and Stuart Cowan W2LX