Berkeley Liberation Radio Faces Another FCC Action

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday March 18, 2009 - 07:11:00 PM

Berkeley Liberation Radio’s never-ending war with the Federal Communications Commission is heating up again. 

The underground station, which operates with benefit of an FCC license, has been targeted with yet another enforcement letter from the agency’s western regional office in Pleasanton. 

“We found it on the door Thursday (March 12),” said Soul, a veteran activist and one of the station’s three mainstays. 

The notice, left by FCC Agent Glen Phillips, notified the station that they were operating illegally at 104.1 FM and must respond within 10 days or face up to a year in prison and fines of as much as $100,000. 

“We’re responding right now,” said Soul. “We’re on the air.” 

The station broadcasts ‘round-the-clock from a small private studio space on Peralta Street in West Oakland. 

The station has witnessed several FCC raids in the new century, including a Dec. 11, 2002, invasion by more than a dozen armed federal marshals, supported by an Oakland police officer. 

During that raid, Soul told the Daily Planet in 2005, “They shoved a gun into the face of a student who was visiting at the time.” 

The station was back on the air 16 days later, with its transmitter sending out the station’s unique blend of programs until a second action in June 2005, when BLR was forced to abandon its studio on 55th Street. 

“We came back, then too,” said Soul. “And now we’re more together than at any other time in our history.” 

While the FCC notice served on the station in 2005 claimed BLR’s transmissions were interfering with radio signals at Oakland International Airport, the latest notice made no such claim. 

“They didn’t claim we were interfering with anyone else’s signals, and we’ve been getting along peacefully with out neighbors without any complaints,” she said. 

The station first went on the air in the mid-1980s, she said. “We say we have the right of freedom of speech for the voiceless. Berkeley Liberation Radio will continue to stand up because we feel it is our responsibility to take the keys away from the very people who are driving us to Armageddon.” 

BLR was also a target in another federally coordinated raid last year, when a team of UC Berkeley Police, Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputies and the FBI raided the Long Haul Infoshop at 3124 Shattuck Ave. in South Berkeley under the aegis of the federal Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force. 

While the search warrant specified that the officers were seeking the source of e-mail threats to UC Berkeley animal researchers allegedly sent from the Info-shop’s computers, they also seized the radio station’s hard drive—which was eventually returned along with other computers and storage devices after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electric Frontier Foundation offered their support. 

“Berkeley Liberation Radio is alive and well,” said Soul, in signing off her phone conversation with a reporter. “We will not run like rats.”