Friday, March 27, 2015

The Very First RNI Mailbag and Freedom of Speech?

Sunday September 30, 1990 was just a couple of days before the long awaited October 2nd German reunification, the true end of World War II.  Hope was in the air despite the rain in and around NYC that day.  And the most unique mailbag program ever to hit the shortwaves debuted that night at 9 PM Eastern (0100 UTC Monday).

Things did not exactly get off to a smooth start.  Even before the initial broadcast, the staff was embroiled in an argument over whether a song featuring profanity could be played, if it could be bleeped, or as Pirate Joe wanted, not to play it at all.  Dan seriously considered boycotting the maiden mailbag broadcast over Pirate Joe's authoritarian stance (no bleeping in MY studio!) on the matter.  However, the program proceeded and the conflict resulted in a good discussion around the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  In the end, Dan prevailed and the profanities were bleeped, ironically in a song called "Freedom of Speech".  The prohibited utterance that did go out over the air the WWCR airwaves that night ended up coming from a caller rather than a song.

Pirate Joe joined Dan in the studio for the first hour of the program, which was hosted from the Pirate Central Yonkers, NY studio -- so while we announced NYC on the air, we were about a mile or two north or the city line.  Plenty of letters were read, including mentions of pirate scholars Andy Yoder and George Zeller, well known DXers and NASWA members Jerry Berg and Rich D'Angelo, and of course, a commercial for Popular Communications.

Jerry's letter mentioned the Committee to Preserve Radio Verifications (CPRV) and Dan offered further publicity to this still worthy and ongoing effort.

Listen here and enjoy the show.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Planes, trains, 800 numbers, and the RNI Mailbag on WWCR

November 11, 1990 was Veteran's Day in the USA and Armistice Day in France.  Tina and I were still in the throes of our initial infatuation, and I was hosting the RNI Mailbag each second and fourth Sunday via WWCR's 100,000 watt 7,520 kHz blowtorch.

Al Gore had not yet invented the commercial internet, 800 toll free service only worked within the US and most of Canada, and the cellphone was still in its infancy. Shortwave was still a viable international communications medium and we received letters from all over the world, which I read on the air. The TSA had not yet been invented to dehumanize our air travel experience nor had the Euro been invented to tax the Europeans wallets and inflate prices.

This episode features a story of how we almost missed the show because of an airline ticketing error -- and how, with the help of a wonderful KLM representative in Amsterdam, we were home in time anyway -- much to the dismay of a Parisian bureaucrat.  It also features commercials for Offshore Echoes, Monitoring Times, and Radio For Peace International.  Listeners call in with their travel stories, letters from around the world are read and there is a brief mention of our visit to the Veronica radio ship "Nordernay" which was anchored in Maastricht.  I also confuse the legendary PCJ callsign, predecessor of Radio Netherlands, with PJB, which was the 800 kHz callsign of Trans World Radio in Bonaire.  Ah, hindsight!

Enjoy as you listen to this RNI Mailbag flashback from 25 years ago!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Second Night of RNI -- Live from the Radio Ship Sarah

On Friday evening, July 24, 1987, my AM radio was turned on. It was tuned in to 1620 kHz and the cassette was in the deck. It was all a buzz until -- the frequency was abuzz with the sounds of the 2nd test transmission of Radio Newyork International. My friend Randi Steele was at the controls, about to show NYC what free form radio was going to bring to the city. The first transmission, the prior evening, went well, but lacked the professional polish that Randi was about to bring to the airwaves. Not that there weren't audible studio glitches, but then it was free form.

My own recorded air contributions to the short lived RNI-fest of 1987 were never aired. They are probably sitting on VHS cassettes on a dilapidated school bus in northern Maine, perhaps never to be heard, perhaps to end up on Area 51 some day as others have. I was to have been part of the original air team on a part-time basis (wisely keeping my day job). Nonetheless, my contributions to the station are heard two-fold in this transmission. I coined the expression "The Wet One" as a station slogan, and Hayes Hayes delivers on its promise as a station slogan for a shipboard station with his deep, laborious pronouncement. I also provided the recordings of the "original" Dutch RNI jingles that were used as production material.

The station was heard all across the Eastern USA. QSL cards were issued and the legend had begun. While RNI is now simply a name used on WBCQ by a Johnny-come-later, this recording of the promise that Allan Weiner and Randi Steele offered NYC media remains for your listening enjoyment.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Allan Weiner and Randi Steele on 66 WNBC

Allan Weiner and Randi Steele, organizers of the Radio Newyork International (RNI) pirate ship broadcasts, pay a visit to the studios of 66 WNBC on the 2nd floor of 30 Rockerfeller Plaza in New York City. They are joined by longtime associate JP Ferraro. The date is July 28, 1988 and there are thunderstorms in the area which can be heard as static bursts on this off air recording.

The trio speak about their experiences with the FCC and take calls from supportive listeners. Also of interest are the commercials for NYNEX Mobile, proud that they are adding a new 5 MHz of spectrum to their cellular system; and regular advertisers Sears and K-Mart.

Host Alan Colmes also pokes fun at Randi as a former troublemaker, based upon phone calls that he -- yes Randi was still identifying as a he at that time -- made to radio stations back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is also revealed that Randi worked nights at WNBC back in those days as a producer to Big Jay Sorensen who these days is to be found on WCBS-FM in NYC.

Give a listen and I hope that you enjoy it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ed Armstrong and Marconi on KPRC

I was quited surprised this evening to hear a KPRC broadcast from 30 years ago being aired on WBCQ. I tuned past 7,490 kHz and heard some vaguely familiar segues and then the voices of Ed Armstrong (aka Randi Steele) and Marconi (aka Dan Lewis) coming out of my radio. Allan Weiner, owner of WBCQ, found some old reel-to-reel tapes in storage that had not seen the light of day for 30 years and decided to put them on the air. The pogram will resume at 10 PM Eastern (0200 UTC) on 7,490 kHz and on the web. Join me as we travel back 30 years in time to Pirate Radio Central in New York City.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

RNI Friday Follies via WRNO, New Orelans

On March 20, 1991 the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on fetal protection in the workplace in the case of UAW v. Johnson Controls.  What does this have to do with Dan Lewis op de radio?  The release of the decision was instrumental in dating the next show presented for your listening enjoyment.  It was found on an undated cassette tape.

Back in early 1991, Radio New York International made the bold move of providing a 7 day per week broadcast schedule.  I took Friday nights, naming them the Friday follies, and Tina agreed to help with the RNI Information news segment.

This program was somewhat unusual.  It was done live, and instead of doing a 5 minute news segment over the phone, Tina was able to join me in Randi's Flushing studio that evening.  It quite by accident turned into our version of Howard and Robin doing the news for an hour, but it was definitely done in Dan and Tina style.  Tina had a lot of airtime and used it well.  The discussion took the audience through sex, rape, culture, and strange crimes of passion.  NYC crime in the days before Giuliani, Bloomberg and Kelly was a topic, as were the price of luxuries and taxes disguised as user fees and tolls.

What is also unusual is that this was part of the brief 5 evening per week broadcast stint done via the facilities of WRNO in New Orelans, LA.  I was very happy to find this recording and be able to share it.  The date appears to be Friday March 22, 1991 at 9 PM Eastern (0200 UTC Saturday) based upon the release of the Supreme Court decision that week.

At about halfway through the program, Randi is featured in a spot which announced the complete RNI broadcast schedule:

Sunday @ 0200 via WWCR, Nashville
Monday - Friday @ 0200 via WRNO, New Orelans
Saturday - Radio for Peace International, Costa Rica @ 2230 and 0500

Times are UTC but in all instances except the 2230 RFPI transmission, the UTC days were actually the next day.  RNI could never get UTC quite right.  But on the web, anytime is party time, so listen here whenever you want.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The 2nd Week of the First Gulf War

Now that we're done with Superstorm Sandy, November sno'easters, and other artifacts that confirm global warming -- at least in my mind -- let's go back to the 27th of January, 1991.  This program is the third of a trilogy that was archived on a VHS Hi-Fi tape.

It's Superbowl Sunday and the 2nd week of the first Gulf War.  What do to, other than to drive up to the Yonkers studio, and take on the Bush Administration, the war, and Senator Jesse Helms.

We had a high quality audience back then and this episode is the proof, including letters from the incarceratedly challenged.  One guy even figured out how to get WWCR to overload a AM radio in order to listen to the mailbag program.

You don't have to overload your radio to listen.  And while there was no Facebook in 1991, be sure to like us in 2012.