Thursday, July 26, 2007

Radio Free New York Site Update: RNI!

This week marks the 20th Anniversary of Radio New York International!

That's right - it was twenty years ago that a group of underground broadcasters got together and attempted to sign on an offshore pirate radio station (broadcasting on an old fishing trawler called The Radioship Sarah) from international territory, four-and-a-half miles off the coast of New York City - outside the three-mile limit.

Well, as we learned, territories can be in the mind of the beholder - and after just five days of broadcasting, RNI was shut down and dismantled by the FCC. Despite RNI's short existence, it left a lasting mark on the radio scene and those of us who were a part of it will never forget the experience!

Radio Free New York is proud to mark RNI's 20th Anniversary with a group of site updates that add new audio, video and text commemorating this historic event. Among the updates are:

More detailed notes on the RNI saga.

Embedded video from our personal collections, including news coverage from that crazy week and the days that followed!

Airchecks of the last broadcasts from The Sarah before the FCC brought the hammer down on July 28, 1987.

The new updated pages (with audio and video) can be found directly HERE.

I'm sure these new RNI pieces will bring back memories for you as they did for me while I was putting them all together!

As always, thanks for surfing our way!

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Bronx Is Burning…Again

ESPN is running an excellent miniseries commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Champion Yankees. It’s not JUST about the Yankees – it’s about the whole astounding mess the city was going through back in 1977, from Son of Sam to the big Northeast Blackout, to one of the more contentious mayoral elections in city history.

The miniseries is based on Jonathan Mahler’s excellent book of the same name, although the TV version relies heavily on other sources since it mainly focuses on the ’77 Yankees and their role in the turbulence of the times. So far the acting has been top-notch (John Turturro’s turn as Billy Martin is downright scary) and the vintage news and game clips are sure to rattle a few memory cells that you haven’t referred to in a while.

If you’re around my age and lived through the insane craziness of the time, you’ll definitely want to check it out. ESPN has set up an excellent sub-site with episode updates and the like HERE.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fourth of July Memories

Happy Independence Day, everyone! Earlier this week at work, I was waxing nostalgic about July Fourths of my youth, taking a stroll down memory lane...

Growing up in Brooklyn NY, Independence Day always meant the sounds of firecrackers, whistling rockets and crackling fountains - starting somewhere around mid-June and increasing in intensity until July 4th, with a rousing, citizen-provided, city-wide fireworks display the likes of which you probably wouldn't see anywhere else.

In addition to the sights and sounds of sparkling lights and popping crackers, the smell of sulphur would permeate your nostrils. It was hard to escape the full-senses assault: pretty much every city block featured a high number of homeowners barbecuing and setting off their own Chinatown-purchased displays (it was always illegal to buy and sell fireworks, and to an extent, to set them off...but most law enforcement looked the other way in the spirit of the holiday and all that).

When Rudy became mayor, all that changed. He decided to crack down on John Gotti's annual ridiculous Grucci-like displays in Queens, and I guess he felt that it would only be fair to crack down on EVERYONE. Police began confiscating fireworks from the average citizen in great numbers; patrols were doubled and tripled on July 4th; people that protested were issued summonses.

I am a huge fan of what Rudy did for New York - reversing the cancer that had been allowed to spread under Koch's last term and the total ineptitude of the Dinkins years (shudder) - but I feel in this particular instance, he was simply going over the top. What Gotti was doing and what John Q. Homeowner were doing in their front yards was like comparing one tiny apple to a truckload of oranges. Autocrat Bloomberg must share an equal disdain for fireworks, as he has kept the hard-line ban up under his rule.

I have been back to Brooklyn for Fourth of July in the years since the crackdown, and you'd never know it was the noisy, joyous place it used to be when I was a kid. You occasionally hear a fire cracker pop from a brave soul, or a whistle from a wayward bottle rocket - but it's nowhere near the full-blown rattle and bang that it used to be 'back in the day'.

I miss those sounds, and I miss those smells. As a young boy, I couldn't wait for the Fourth because I knew it would be a borough-and-city-wide block party of epic proportions. But it's still a good time for a fun barbecue!