This post originally appeared on Brushbeater and written by my friend and former PsyOps soldier, Henry Bowman. I’ve had a lot of people ask about it recently and the value of a low powered FM station for guerrilla forces is undeniable. Be sure to check out the links.
Note- this article came out of a conversation a few of us had regarding off the shelf community building tools and the value of low power FM radio. There’s no better tool for rapidly spreading friendly information and propaganda. It so happens they could make good psyop tools if you think along the left hand path. If you’re wondering what that means, read The Devil’s Guard. To further underscore the value of such an operation, the first thing Guerrilla, both Revolutionary and Counter-Revolutionary, is to set up a broadcasting center for the rapid spread of information. Check out the story of Radio Rebelde. Unlicensed Low power transmitters, while legal at low power, cannot exceed a transmission range of more than 200ft per FCC rules. So just keep that in mind. Whatever you do, do it at your own risk and don’t write checks you can’t cash. -NC Scout
I was asked to do a little write up on the subject due to the fact that I recently delved into the shadowy world of Guerrilla Radio. You know, those pesky unlicensed AM/FM transmitters and the folks who run both, licensed and unlicensed set ups. The FCC has strict rules governing the use of such devices, can be found here:
I however, am not going to focus on such matters, for the purpose or scope of this article is How, When, Where, What and Why, in my humble opinion, to fire up my 1-7w FM transmitter and broadcast. I advise anyone interested in doing this, adhere to any/all FFC regulations. Imagine a partial/full grid down environment where traditional means of receiving info is missing or limited to certain regions, etc. No info flow to the populace who most likely will have an auto radio or solar/battery powered AM/FM unit and are turning the dial, looking for news or usable information. I’ll take my environment and you the savvy readership can make it comport to your area of operations or AO. First off, I am a licensed amateur radio operator, with all kinds of kit, running my Commo center from a suburban environment outside a large southern city. Our community has approx. 9001000 homes, not to mention the other two larger communities bordering ours. So, let’s say 4000k homes within a 5-7 mile radius. My immediate AO is my community and then the outlining communities.
Because I can, and there may be a time, like the above, when it is necessary to provide very localized information that I can receive via my VHF/UHF/HF networks and SW international stations, to my local community that the authorities can’t or won’t provide. This could be political info, to health info, to military news, to food distribution, to crime waves; all manner of information can be conveyed to fill the void.
The What is endless in my opinion, if you think it important, and have the ability to get that to the populace, then get it out. Perhaps you wish to run a PsyOp against a local entity, or bleed over into the local liberal/commie radio stations; you can do that with the right equipment, and discretion. If they’re is saying one thing, but facts/evidence differ, that can be conveyed. As a former soldier attached to an active duty PsyOp unit back in the 80’s, the avenues are limitless for operations one can take, and that is another subject and not relevant for this article.
This is a very grey area, for what constitutes a crisis that warrants you, the Guerrilla Radio Operator or GRO for short, to fire up rig and start transmitting, in clear violation of FCC rules? In order for the message to get out to the community it will require the use of transmitters that exceed the power level mandated. To me, it is when the normal modes of intel gathering, like radio/tv/internet/etc., are offline to the average person, who depends upon said services for info. Now, that could be due to some low probability, high impact event like a CMP/EMP strike or a regionalized disaster, like a major ice storm, hurricane or even regional terrorist attack. Each GRO will make that call based on conditions in their AO and criteria.
Given the fact that the goal is to convey info to the local populace or OpFor, that means your transmitter needs to be in the same area, based on tx power levels of miliwatts to 25w or more and to be clear, you will need a device of actual wattage to be effective. Mine is a 1-7w unit and capable of transmitting out to the legal limit (yup) with stock antenna, and if I added the larger, higher gain, FM transmitting antenna to a mast and increase the height I am confident I could cover my immediate AO. That brings another set of issues: RDF’ing by OpFor/.gov agencies, if in a hostile environment. So, just like amateur radio operations, one must be very careful to mix up times, durations, of transmissions in order to reduce the possibility of being RDF’d. However, if it gets to the point where that is my concern, then down the rabbit hole we have gone and I suspect other matters will be more important. If a short term incident, one can probably get away with limited transmitting from home base. If not, then the ability to remote locate the device is key and a very good idea. No matter where, the set up must be, in my humble opinion, discreet and covert.
Many of the external antennas look like Over the Air units, and most folks would not pay attention anyway, but if someone were switched on and looking, would be a beacon to your doorstep. Personally, I would test my pop up mast system for performance, and my fixed, attic based system, 100% discreet and covert, and being used now for all of my VHF/UHF and Scanner antennas to great effect. Only my random long wire is outside, and no one has noticed or said a thing. I envision my rig being home based unless conditions dictate otherwise and I have places to relocate unit. There is also the ability to use a vehicle to drive around, assuming they work, and transmit. Very stealthy if done correctly. Imagine driving into a neighborhood and broadcasting on the local NPR station, reading the Constitution or Bible verses to override their FM signal…..Your options are limitless here too, your creativity and willingness is key.
Gotta have the right kit, and it starts with knowledge. I went here to start my adventure: hobby broadcaster This was a good place for me to delve into this shadowy world of Guerrilla Radio and add to my overall Commo Systems. Since I am just starting out, I wanted something that was effective, functional, easy to user and affordable that helped me to achieve my goal of local broadcasting. The units that are Milliwatt based are for small areas or uses, like home information being broadcast to passersby’s for listings, or little yard events, etc. You will need a higher Wattage unit.
I did some more research lots to choose from and pulled the trigger on a starter package that seemed to fit my criteria:
The Radio: Signstek 7W 7C FM Transmitter Mini Radio Stereo Station
External FM antenna: Zowaysoon 1/4 Wave Professional GP Antenna
This antenna will be for my fixed base, and I have been advised that I can build a portable antenna that will perform well for covert field or remote operations. I am looking forward to that, as I want a well rounded set up. You’ll need some cable and connectors to complete set up, but once done, will have a very effective little FM broadcasting set up that will allow you, the GRO, to operate, operationally, all at an affordable price, given the potential return. I plan to experiment with, and explore the ability to run the unit off a 12v battery and solar panel. I am confident based on specs, that it can be done, but for now, will use the supplied 12v universal power brick and Anderson Power Pole connectors. To sum up, if you believe information is key, especially in a Grid Down/WROL environment, then you need another tool to convey it to the populace, and to me, this does just that and fits into my overall plan.