As the sun neared the horizon over San Francisco two unidentified men,
laden with transmitter, antenna, audio gear and a thirty pound car
battery climbed a steep trail above Memorial Stadium in the Berkeley
hills. By eight o'clock they were on the air, broadcasting news and
commentary about the recent federal court injunction against Stephen
Dunifer and Free Radio Berkeley. Fifteen minutes later, two
representatives of the FCC, Thomas N. Van Stavern, San Francisco
District Director of the Compliance and Information Bureau, and William
F. Zears Jr., an electronics engineer from the Field Operations Bureau,
appeared at their makeshift broadcast studio, having somehow gained
access to the gated fire road that runs within twenty five yards of the
tall cedar where our broadcasters had set up shop.
"The agents showed us their badges and asked us for our ID. We
declined." said one of the broadcasters. " We continued to broadcast,
and broadcast the entire interaction live on 104.1 , the frequency
recently vacated by Free Radio Berkeley. At one point VanStavern
actually grabbed the mic and tried to turn it off, but then thought
better of it, perhaps realizing that the two of us were in good enough
shape to carry our gear up the hill, and his salary was the same whether
or not he physically confronted us.
"The agents asked us if we had a license, and when we told them no,
that none was available for our type of station, they actually told us
to apply for a "class D", which was of course abolished for all
practical purposes about twenty years ago.
"When they asked us for our ID again we told them to give us their
cards and we would have our attorneys contact them, and they complied. I
got a little nervous when I heard Van Stavern tell Zears to do a field
strength reading and spectrum analysis of our signal, fearing that our
transmitter might not be up to the governments rigorous standards. At
some point we identified ourselves on air as "Radio Cedar Tree"
"We tried to get their opinions on Low power FM radio, but they
turned out to not have much to say beyond 'You're illegal.' and 'Can you
show us some ID?' and it was getting darker all the time, so we decided
to go off the air and pack up our gear. While we were packing they
worked on their paperwork, and as we left they presented us with a
souvenir of the evening, a "Notice of Unlicensed Radio Operation"
addressed to "2 unidentified males/Radio Cedar Tree." Our little
transmitter came through just fine. Van Stavern wrote our frequency
down as 104.1, on the money, and did not check the box indicating
"spurious radio signals associated with the operation of this station"
There was some worry about the fate of the pair, but before long they
were sipping beers and recounting the incident for their friends and
As far as we know it is the first time an FCC enforcement action has
been broadcast live. Evidently a few alert listeners had thought to
tape the broadcast. It is our understanding that it will be available
as real audio at the FRB website. Perhaps those in possession of a
recording of the broadcast who would be willing to make dubs for those
without computer/sound capability would indicate this on this list.
--Radio Cedar Tree