The Airwaves Belong to the (Properly Licensed) People! Boston Radio Station Raided, Shut Down


Reason contributor Garrett Quinn reports out of Boston on how the federal government keeps the fraying edges of civilization together: by raiding and shutting down a nice thing that made lots of people happy, Boston radio station Touch 106 FM:

An underground Boston radio station considered by some as the voice of Boston's African-American community while operating in Dorchester for last eight years was raided by federal agents on Thursday.

Touch 106.1 FM was shutdown after a raid by U.S. Marshals this morning, according to the station's owner and operator, former mayoral candidate Charles Clemons.

A defensive Clemons told reporters today that the station was shut down for operating without a license, something the station has been doing for years.

"We are unlicensed. It's point blank. We are unlicensed," said Clemons.

The station is a low power station with a range that does not extend very far beyond Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury. Agents, according to Clemons, took anything related to transmitting from the Touch 106.1 FM studios….

Universal Hub is reporting that Clemons was fined $17,000 by the FCC for operating without a license in 2008.

Reason's Jesse Walker wrote a history of scrappy rebellious radio, Rebels on the Air. Hat tip: Jeff Patterson.

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  1. My God!

    Is there no end to the bad policies authored by Herbert “Keep Economic War Planning In Peacetime” Hoover?

    1. We all know it was you who dropped a dime on the station, tarran. Stop trying to change the subject.

      1. Puhleeze! I don’t listen to radio. And what my monocole polishers listen to as they slave away in the sweltering heat of my basement is none of my concern.

        Well, that’s not quite true; my factotum showed me that listening to Justin Bieber and Katy Perry tended to reduce the life-span of my orphans by a median of 150.8 days. So they aren’t allowed to listen to that. I use a tune recognizer that drives shock collars, and the incentive to avoid pain does the rest.

    2. Wait, Herbert “De Re Metallica” Hoover was president? I thought he was a mine engineer. How did a mining engineer become president?

      1. He gave Calvin Coolidge lots of advice.

  2. But Brian, in a a democracy, the government is us. The people elected the government officials, so the licensing regime is what the people decided, so therefore the radio station is STEALING from THE PEOPLE.

  3. the voice of Boston’s African-American community while operating in Dorchester for last eight years was raided by federal agents

    So much for that national conversation on race, I guess. Although, I didn’t see the twist ending coming: “You black people just need to shut up already if the white man hasn’t given you permission to speak.”

    1. It’s par for the course here in Boston. The local dem machine would probably lynch Thomas Sowell if he tried to run for office here.

      1. Of course. Remember folks: when school integration was ordered, most cities didn’t have race riots. Boston did.

        1. How can that be? Bostonians keep telling me that there’s no racism there. Isn’t that city on a navigable waterway — the mighty river Denial, perhaps?

          1. I have never heard any Bostonian deny that there is a lot of racism there.

      2. Oh, is that how you ended up with a white mayor who was actually retarded for so long?

        1. Voting him out of office would have required people to get outraged at him, and his incoherence made it impossible for him to say anything that would infuriate anyone; few could understand a word of what he said.

  4. The airwaves are like subsidy in Yes, Minister. They’re not to be given to what the people want. They are for what the people don’t want but ought to have.

    1. I don’t think that’s a great comparison. There is the stupid “public service” part of FCC broadcast licenses, but that’s really a joke. Commercial broadcast TV and radio are hardly filled with high brow stuff that no one wants.
      I don’t think it is good that this happened. A low power station like that isn’t interfering with anyone else’s business. But the rule under which they are being punished is pretty clear and generally applicable. You broadcast on certain frequencies without a license and you get fines and your gear gets seized.

  5. It could be worse. There could be a Canadian-style 10% content law for Boston. How much J. Geils can a person listen to?

  6. It is also a law that all GPS travel instruction direct you to “bang a left” at least twice.

  7. Touch 106.1 FM was shutdown after a raid by U.S. Marshals this morning,

    Life imitates Eagleheart.

  8. See NY times? Libertarians are sympathetic to Bundy AND black DJ’s operating without a license against federal overreach.

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