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Ferndale pirates 

Tom Ness is ready to throw down the gauntlet, but before he does he wants your support — especially if you are at all famous or influential. Those familiar with Ness — a longtime Green Party activist, tireless supporter of homegrown music and advocate of all things liberal — won’t be surprised to hear that he’s upping the ante in his fight to bring low-powered FM radio to the masses.

But they might be surprised to hear he also wants conservatives at his side as he prepares to take on the Federal Communications Commission.

Commercial radio stations, as well as National Public Radio, have battled to keep low-powered FM stations — those operating at 100 watts or less — off the air. Strong-arm lobbying allowed them to limit legal, low-power stations primarily to remote boondocks, saying any urban encroachment would wreak havoc on the dial. A new, independent report commissioned by the FCC puts the lie to that claim, as U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) noted.

“Four years ago, broadcasters masqueraded their concern about competition from new low-power FM stations in grossly exaggerated claims of interference. Today, the FCC has stripped broadcasters of this disguise by concluding that these stations would cause virtually no interference, and recommending the removal of certain limits on such stations,” speechified McCain.

Enter Ness, who is soliciting support to put just such a station on the air in Ferndale. The plan is to broadcast for two weeks, giving folks a taste of what they could hear if such a station were a permanent fixture.

“We’re planning to cause a little delightful mischief,” chuckles Ness.

He envisions a true exercise in democracy that offers a megaphone to voices from across the political spectrum. Which is why he wants right-, left- and middle-wingers all involved, as well as merchants, community activists and your cousin Flora’s great-grandma.

He wants to hit the airwaves no later than June. But he wants to hear from you now. So, be you right-winger or left, contact Ness via e-mail at and volunteer to serve on his pirate radio crew.

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October 21, 2020

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