I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of pirate radio. There’s a subversive glamour to the 1970s/80s-era image of a radio station run from international waters, not subject to the usual governmental controls over content (or, I suppose, royalties). It never really took off here, although I do have an acquaintance who taught a course in building, um, unauthorized FM transmitters.
According to New Scientist, pirate radio is still alive and kicking in the UK. Localized FM broadcast is still viewed by the pirates as critically important because it taps into the marketplace of people walking around on the street with FM capable cell phones. It’s a good reminder that conventional broadcasting is still important and viable. This will continue until bandwidth costs become so negligable that I can reasonably stream to my iPhone as I walk around. In many markets (hello, Canada) this sure isn’t the case.