Federal marshals and representatives of the Federal Communications Commission raided a residence on a quiet block in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, confiscating equipment used to operate an unlicensed, low-power FM radio station.
Volunteers at San Francisco Liberation Radio, which has been on the air for 10 years, said the agents removed an antenna from the roof and seized computers, tape and CD players, turntables, a mixing board and other equipment.
“We were a little surprised,” said Charlotte Hatch, who along with her husband, Jim Hatch, has provided space in their building for the station for the past year. “We thought we might have another warning or so.”
In July, FCC investigators showed up at the station’s doorstep, asking to inspect the equipment. When they were turned away, the agents warned of a potential $17,000 fine.
This time, they brought a search warrant and more than a dozen federal marshals.
No charges have been filed against anyone associated with the station. An agent with the FCC did not return a call late Wednesday seeking comment.
San Francisco Liberation Radio broadcasts “radical progressive” political views and independent music programs at 93.7 FM, reaching listeners as far away as the East Bay. In August, Supervisor and mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez drafted a resolution supporting the station for its alternative viewpoints.
Liberation Radio attorney Mark Vermeulen, who arrived at the station site shortly after the agents did, explained to the marshals that the station had applied to the FCC for a license in 2000 and had never been officially told it had been denied.