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Hip-Hop News: Pirated Rap & Hip Hop Flood Local Airwaves
Police in South Florida have difficulties finding the culprits broadcasting pirated hip hop music.
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Posted by Dave
Rap News Network
3/19/2006 9:53:53 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Various Artists. Hip Hop, Rap, Radio and FCC.

It began with airline pilots reporting hip-hop songs playing on two frequencies from a station calling itself Da Streetz.

Authorities pinpointed the source of the transmission: a stucco-and-brick, two-story warehouse in Opa-locka. Joseph Zeller, a state agent, discovered a large radio antenna mounted on a tower next to the building.

Armed with a search warrant, he confiscated three computers, a monitor, a mixing board, a stereo compressor, a microphone, a two-deck CD player, a telephone, a DSL modem, two stereo speakers, three gray three-ring binders and 10 cases filled with CDs.

But no radio transmitter. And no disc jockey.

''No arrests. This is still an open case,'' said Paige Patterson-Hughes, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Da Streetz remains on the air.

The music from the pirate radio station has been so troublesome over the last month that a federal engineer who specializes in frequency transmissions has arrived in Miami to help investigators locate the signal.

''It's intermittent. Not all day, every day,'' said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. ``But clear communication between air control and the pilots is a critical part of flying.''

Helping in the investigation: the Federal Communications Commission and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

It is believed to be the first such case worked by state agents in South Florida since a new law gave law enforcement broader authority to go after illegal radio stations.

It's unclear if agents have a suspect or how long the station has operated from the building. The owner of the warehouse had no idea the building was being used as an illegal station, authorities said.

With its flat terrain, South Florida has long been described as the pirate radio capital of the United States.

On any given day, between nine and 20 illegal stations are playing in South Florida, according to the Florida Association of Broadcasters. Some air around the clock; many switch frequencies and locations often.

''They get a kick out of it. They laugh at everybody,'' said C. Patrick Roberts, the organization's president.

With readily available technology and radio mega-companies that critics say have limited playlists, unlicensed radio stations have proliferated in recent years.

Supporters contend the stations provide niche programming -- often geared toward ethnic groups -- not found on overcommercialized radio stations.

The FAA says it has launched 30 similar investigations into pirate stations interfering with airport transmissions during the past decade. They now have more help from the state.

A Florida anti-piracy law went into effect last summer, making interfering with signals from licensed public or commercial stations, or broadcasting without a license, a third-degree felony.

That gave FDLE the power to aggressively go after pirate radio stations. Since then, agents have shut down about five illegal radio stations.

So far, they have arrested at least two men in South Florida.

Last year, agents shut down Vibez, a popular Caribbean station that had operated quite openly.

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