American Extremists Use Technology to Broadcast Hate Worldwide
By James Latham
Overall, there are 21 U.S.-licensed, non-governmental shortwave stations and one illegal pirate — Anderson's United Patriot Radio (UPR). Of these, seven have broadcast far-right programming using high-power transmitters capable of reaching around the globe in the right weather conditions.
They are WWFV in McCaysville, Ga., which has carried William Pierce; WWCR in Nashville, which has featured a wide variety of extremists; WBCQ in Monticello, Maine, carrying Hal Turner; WHRA/WHRI in South Bend, Ind., which has aired radicals like homophobe Pete Peters and militia enthusiast Jack McLamb but now tends to tamer conspiratorial fare; WRMI in Miami, which has had on anti-Semitic pastor Robert Hallstrom; WINB in Red Lion, Penn., which has carried the anti-gay Battle Cry Sounding group; and UPR, which has offered up hard-liner James Wickstrom, the former "director of counterinsurgency" for the violent and anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus.
UPR has also been the venue of one of the more remarkable aspects of radical shortwave radio — broadcasts from inside the walls of America's penal institutions. Mark Koernke, the militia propagandist who became famous as "Mark from Michigan," was sentenced in April to three years in prison for fleeing and assaulting police. But prison hasn't seemed to slow him down.
"There are millions, tens of millions, of us out there, people," Koernke, speaking from a pay phone in his cell block, told militia enthusiasts in a show broadcast by UPR on June 23. "We need to double that number, and it's not that hard to do. Everybody's feeling the cold fist of Big Brother now. Aren't they? ... God bless the republic, death to the New World Order!"
"And that," concluded the studio engineer, "was Mark Koernke from the state prison here in Michigan. We will try to have another tape tomorrow."
'Spreading the Word'
Like other communications media, shortwave radio also has the potential for fund raising. Brother R.G. Stair, the self-proclaimed "prophet" of the radio program "The Overcomer," is carried on five U.S.-based stations and specializes in anti-gay rhetoric from his base in Walterboro, N.C.
Stair, who has urged people to leave the city, sell their possessions and join him, claims to spend $55,000 a month on fees to broadcast shortwave and other radio programs. While it's not clear if he really spends that much, it is likely he raises large amounts via his programming.
Shortwave also attracts very little attention from the FCC, unlike other radio bands — another attraction for extremists. By the same token, outside of the operation of Radio For Peace International in Costa Rica, shortwave broadcasts receive very little attention from watchdog groups that do closely monitor the Internet.
All in all, shortwave radio has proven to be an increasingly important weapon in the arsenal of American extremists. It is inexpensive, global in reach and has a potential audience that dwarfs the Internet. And that has long been clear to one of the most extreme of them all, the neo-Nazi National Alliance's William Pierce.
"[T]he 100,000 of us who now gather each week can grow to a million, and then to 10 million," Pierce said not long after starting his "American Dissident Voices" shortwave radio show. "All we have to do is keep spreading the word."
James Latham is the co-founder of Radio For Peace International (RFPI), a shortwave station based outside El Rodeo, Costa Rica, since 1987. He is also the host of "Far Right Radio Review," a show that seeks to expose extremists and their hateful programming on shortwave radio. Surrounded by mango trees and the squawks of toucans, RFPI is staffed by Latham, four other employees, half a dozen interns and a small security force. An estimated 800,000 people hear the show.