Pirate Radio: The Incredible Saga of America’s Underground, Illegal Broadcasters

Andrew Yoder

Despite its subtitle, Pirate Radio is international in its scope, covering high-powered ‘60s legends like Britain’s off-shore Radio Caroline and contemporary pirates like Russia’s Romantic Space Radio (the voice of whose groovy DJ can be briefly heard on the accompanying CD). Most of the focus of this well-documented history and survey dating back to 1925 is on North American pirate radio, ranging the spectrum from AM and FM to shortwave illegal broadcasts. Some surprising FCC-baiters include the bluegrass station WHBH (“Hill Billy Heaven”); WEED (guess the format); Black Liberation Radio operated by an unemployed and blind black man from a housing project in Springfield, IL; WKAR (“Wisconsin Kick Ass Rock”) emphasizing Christmas parody music”); WXZR (“Meontological Research Radio”) featuring industrial music and sound collage; the neo-Nazi “Voice of Tomorrow” with its distinctive wolf-howl interval signal; and WYMN (“Testosterone Free Radio”) with a female folksinger format which has been broadcasting sporadically since 1984. Pirate Radio provides valuable resources such as a worldwide address list of mail drops for pirate operators and leads on where to obtain monitoring equipment and technical information. The CD which accompanies the book reveals to the neophyte just how strange and intriguing the ephemeral realm of pirate radio might actually be. Includes CD. SS

Publisher: Hightext
Paperback: 256 pages

Radiotext(e): Semiotext(e) #16

Bart Plantenga

Radiotext(e) is a thoroughly enjoyable compilation which examines broadcast sound both in its wildest implications and specifically as a method of cultural insurrection and mass-consciousness alteration. Nearly devoid of the customary academic theory-speak oppressiveness that typifies this type of effort, it is an inspiring call-to-arms for Radio Rebellion at the moment when all media-corporate pundits’ eyes are firmly on the lumbering information superhighway. Texts range from the internal documents of the Muzak corporation to accounts of anarchist pirate radio in Amsterdam. Contributors include: Leon Trotsky, sound-collage agitators Negativland, trance music pioneer La Monte Young, Dadaist Kurt Schwitters, and the infamous brain-implant researcher José Delgado. SS

Publisher: Autonomedia
Paperback: 350 pages

Scanners and Secret Frequencies

Henry L. Eisenson

This book is written with an unabashed enthusiasm for making technological eavesdropping available to us all, despite the latest federal government efforts to legislate it away. Eisenson is a specialist in covering electronic “gray markets” wherein it is legal to make, buy, sell or own the products but illegal to use them. Until 1983, it was perfectly legal to purchase and use scanners that could receive cordless or cellular phone calls or even listen to baby monitors. Now that all this is technically illegal, it seems like the right time to find out what you aren’t allowed to do anymore and just what these Radio Shack “hobbyists” have really been up to. Besides the exquisite pleasures of monitoring your neighbors’ sleaziest private phone moments, the possibility also exists of tuning in Air Force One air-to-ground communication, frequencies for armored truck companies like Brinks and Wells Fargo, and even a specially designed band for evangelical operations where one can listen to the internal organizational machinations of Sun Myung Moon, Jerry Falwell or the Church of Scientology. The writing style of Scanners and Secret Frequencies is far from dry: “For instance, if you hear a rumor about a reactor meltdown, switch to 165.6625 MHz. That frequency is shared between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Airport Security Nationwide, so if the nuclear inspectors start calling ahead to bypass airport security, it’s time for you to hire a Piper Cub and scoot.” According to Eisenson, today’s “hobbyist scanner” is technically superior to scanners built for the NSA “not that many years ago,” and he would be in a position to know. Scanners and Secret Frequencies explains the basic principles of radio transmission, tells which brand of scanner the three-letter agencies are actually ordering, gives step-by-step instructions on how to hotrod specific scanners by brand name and provides instructions on computer-assisted scanning, frequency list sources and other essential info for the budding surveillance freak. SS

Publisher: Index
Paperback: 320 pages

Get Even: The Video of Dirty Tricks

George Hayduke

Beginning with the inspiring motto, “where the law stops, the vigilante begins,” Get Even: The Video of Dirty Tricks is a rousing call-to-arms to “turn the tables on your tormentors” presented in the form of a psychotic infomercial. In episodes such as “Fecal Attraction!” and “Fowl Play,” vengeance techniques are couched in sleazily endearing SCTV-style parodies ranging from the elementary (junk mail sign-ups, Krazy Gluing the locks) to the finer points harassment. Hide a chicken bomb (raw chicken parts + milk, placed in a glass jar) in your enemy’s couch, thrill to the knowledge that the noxious gases will deliver a putrid explosion a week later—“use chicken against the turkeys who try to keep you down, baby!” Low-tech electronic sabotage of asshole co-workers, bumper-sticker warfare, character assassination via the posting of flyers, as well as some cautionary CYA suggestions to stay clear of The Man should set the most long-suffering viewers on the payback trail. SS

Publisher: Paladin

In the Realms of the Unreal:“Insane Writings”

Edited by John G.H. Oakes

A compilation inspired by Jean Dubuffet which is most interesting for its writings (especially in translation) of such significant Art Brut figures as Adolph Wölfli and Henry Darger. Compiled from archives like the Prinzhorn Collection and the Collection de l’Art Brut. SS

Publisher: Unknown
Paperback: 256 pages

Madness and Art: The Life of Adolf Wölfli

Walter Morgenthaler, M.D.

Adolf Wölfli was a schizophrenic Swiss peasant institutionalized from the age of 31 until his death in 1930 after an episode in which he attempted to molest a 3-and-a-half-year-old girl. While incarcerated in Waldau Hospital, Wölfli was supplied with colored pencils and paper by his doctor, Walter Morgenthaler. This led to Wölfli’s prodigious output of interrelated drawings, writing, musical compositions and collages, which has made him the most acclaimed and studied example of Art Brut. Madness and Art is a combination psychiatric case study and artistic monograph written by Morgenthaler, and is the first book to appear on the subject of the art of the mentally ill (it was published in 1921, one year before Prinzhorn’s landmark work). Morgenthaler also allows Wölfli to speak for himself throughout the book by including Wölfli’s own “A Short Life Story” and extended excerpts of his distinctive prose. SS

Publisher: Unknown
Hardback: 176 pages

Other Side of the Moon: The World of Adolf Wölfli

A catalog, published to accompany an exhibition of Wölfli’s work in Philadelphia in 1988, which approaches his work in terms of contemporary views of Outsider Art. Includes beautiful color reproductions of his paintings and collages, a thorough analysis of his musical compositions, poetry and prose and updated information on Wölfli which has emerged since Walter Morgenthaler’s classic book about him. SS

Publisher: Unknown
Paperback: 64 pages