11/26/97 -- 7:25 AM
Pirate radio supporters reclaim spot on the dial By DEAN SOLOV of The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - Supporters of pirate radio stations gathered in protest Tuesday across the street from the FCC office.
Supporters of pirate radio thumbed their noses Tuesday at the Federal Communications Commission, reclaiming 102.1 on the FM dial as their own as they protested last week's bust of three unlicensed stations.
As the protest began across the street from the FCC's Lois Avenue office, 102.1 returned to the air, six days after federal agents raided the Temple Terrace home of Doug Brewer and seized thousands of dollars in equipment and music collections.
``Do I look like a fighter to you?'' a jubilant Brewer asked shortly after arriving at the demonstration. ``I'm not dead yet.''
The protest, which drew more than 100 pirate disc jockeys and supporters, took on a defiantly triumphant tone as familiar voices in the underground radio scene took to the air from a remote location, slamming the FCC between tunes.
Through a cellular telephone that was passed around among protesters, many others were able to take on-air jabs - some profane - at the federal officials who shut down the stations. They carried signs that read, among other things, ``Federal Censorship Commission,'' ``Nazis Raped Us'' and ``What Good is Free Speech if You Can't Hear Us?''
``They're not going to get rid of us,'' vowed Matthew Adelman, who was a DJ at The Party Pirate, Brewer's station. ``They're going to have to deal with us.''
In an early morning sweep a week ago today, federal agents raided three homes, confiscating equipment and music collections and arresting Arthur Kobres of Lutz, one of the broadcasters. Kobres was charged in a 14-count federal indictment with operating an unlicensed radio stations. He was released on $25,000 security bond.
Kobres operated Lutz Community Radio, 96.7 on the FM dial, where he largely aired anti-government material. Brewer operated The Party Pirate at 102.1, and Kelly Benjamin ran 87X at 87.9 on the dial. Brewer's and Benjamin's stations aired music, much of it rock, as well as DJ banter.
Protesters said they were pleased with the turnout, given the short notice and their inability to promote the event over their stations.
Pirate broadcasters question the FCC's right to control who takes to the airwaves and define the battle as a free speech issue. The FCC requires licenses, they argue, yet will only issue them to large corporations.
Federal officials say it's simply a matter of following the law - and the pirates don't.
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