Wednesday, April 13, 2011

America’s Most Wanted Pirate Broadcaster

Broadcasting on the upper sideband of 3260 kHz with a handful of watts and a homemade antenna, KSMR caused a small stir in the shortwave pirate community: never before had a clandestine station targeting the United States government actually broadcast from within its own borders.
But, as more and more people tuned in KSMR, more and more began not to like what they heard.
On the air at the start for just an hour a day, Steve Anderson would begin each KSMR broadcast with David Von Kleist's pro-militia song "Take My Gun (From My Cold Dead Hands)." He would then proceed to ramble for about 60 minutes, passing on tidbits of militia news from around the country, relaying contact information for various militia groups, and engaging in some personal commentary.

Anderson started Kentucky State Militia Radio (KSMR) in March 2001 from his house; the first monitored broadcast transmission of the station was made on March 3 by veteran listener Harold Frodge and cited in Cumbre DX. He had floated the idea of such a station during a militia gathering the previous fall and got a favorable response.

The Kentucky State Militia was one of the most active paramilitary groups in the country at the time, according to the Anti-Defamation League; it conducted military training and hosted national gatherings of militia members. Its members were surprised when the station came on the air so quickly. More importantly, most were shocked to learn that it was an illegal pirate station.

“Most [militia] members thought that this was to be a commercial radio station licensed through the FCC,” said Patrick Perry, a communications officer with the KSM at the time. “Members had no reason to believe that this station would be otherwise.”

Anderson called his program “The Militia Hour.” He only operated for an hour a day on shortwave initially. He later expanded his schedule to a few hours a day. His intended audience was militia members and supporters in Kentucky and beyond.

A licensed radio amateur, AA8DP, Anderson transmitted KSMR in single side band, a mode many shortwave radio sets cannot receive. He said he did this to save wear and tear on the transmitter. KSMR also changed frequency from time to time. Early programs consisted of coded group and militia messages and news. 

 ‘Most Wanted’

Anderson managed to elude the authorities for quite some time. Frustrated that he remained on the loose a few months after the shootout, the Somerset Commonwealth Journal prepared a package on him and sent it into “America’s Most Wanted,” the television show that portrays criminal fugitives and asks viewers to call the police if they have any information. The show aired a segment on Anderson.

This did the trick. Police in North Carolina captured Anderson in November 2002 in response to a tip from someone who had seen the show. He was sentenced the following May to 15 years in federal prison.

During his trial, Anderson apologized for his actions and what he had said on the air. According to press reports of the time, he told U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves, “My actions were wrong — bad wrong. What I said was very wrong and I apologize for that.”

He remains in prison today. Anderson declined an interview request from this writer 10 years ago, and to my knowledge hasn’t talked to other journalists since.

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