naughty bits air
Brooklyn, N.J. get show free
BY DAVID HINCKLEY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Turns out Howard Stern isn't completely gone from terrestrial radio after all.
Illegal pirate radio broadcasts of his Sirius Satellite program have been heard this week - for free - on broadcast radio, including 95.1 FM in Brooklyn and 101.5 FM in North Jersey.
That presented a potentially startling situation yesterday for listeners in the Newark/Secaucus area who suddenly heard Stern replaying the obscenity-laced Pat O'Brien tapes and song parodies using words that can't be printed here.
Such language is legal on Sirius, which has no Federal Communications Commission regulations on its content, but quite illegal on over-the-air broadcast radio.
Sirius spokesman Patrick Reilly said yesterday that the company had heard nothing about Stern popping up on free radio, and said he would have no comment on it.
FCC spokesman David Fiske, whose agency Stern accuses of driving him from terrestrial radio, said he didn't know of any complaints about the apparent pirate transmissions.
"Pirate broadcasting is something we take very seriously," Fiske said, "although the content per se would be of no concern to us in the case of Howard Stern, since the FCC does not regulate satellite radio."
Program director Eric Johnson of WKXW in Trenton, which broadcasts legally on 101.5 FM, said he had gotten no listener calls, "so the pirate must have been working in a small area."
Johnson said unknown pirates used the 101.5 FM frequency in Brooklyn this summer. "I don't know what you do about it," he said. "You'd like to catch them, but it's like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, they come and go."
The 95.1 FM frequency is vacant.
Technologically, said Tom Taylor of the trade magazine Inside Radio, it's "very easy" to take Stern's satellite program and transmit it on a broadcast frequency. Anyone receiving the Sirius transmission could download it to a computer or other receiving device, then broadcast it through an inexpensive antenna.
"You only need about $1,500 worth of equipment," Taylor said. "It's illegal, of course, but it's attractive to some people because even if you're caught, FCC enforcement can be a slow process."
Several dozen pirate stations operate regularly if erratically around the New York area, many playing Caribbean and other genres of music that don't have a regular home on city radio.
Fiske said the FCC doesn't comment on investigations or pending actions, though he suggested the country's largest pirate problem now is in Southern Florida.