Radio Station Owners Like Allan Weiner Broadcast Hate, Claim they Love Free Speech
Behind shortwave hate radio is a group of entrepreneurial station owners who claim they love free speech
By James Latham
In the anarchic world of underground radio, Allan Weiner is a certifiable legend. Weiner started to gain notoriety in the early 1970s with a series of unlicensed, or "pirate," AM and FM radio stations around New York.
His attempts to sneak onto the air were repeatedly shut down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — most spectacularly in 1987, when Weiner and a band of radio enthusiasts tried to broadcast alternative rock from a rusty fishing vessel anchored off Long Island.
Coast Guard officers boarded the boat, handcuffed Weiner and shackled him on deck while dismantling his equipment.
Free-speech advocates jumped to Weiner's defense — and many were outraged again in 1994, when Weiner's second attempt at ocean-based broadcasting was routed off the South Carolina coast.
Weiner's memoir, Access to the Airwaves, came out in 1997, with its back cover touting the radio pirate as a "heroic free-speech advocate."
Inside, Weiner struck the noble pose of a liberal-minded martyr. "All I wanted to do," he wrote, "was broadcast messages of peace, love and understanding to the world. Was that such a terrible crime?"
After a 14-year quest to license a legitimate shortwave station with the FCC, Weiner finally succeeded in 1998.
From his farm in little Monticello, Maine, station WBCQ began sending out radio waves that could be picked up in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and all of North America.
At long last, Weiner was beaming out his message of "peace, love and understanding" with the federal government's blessing.
Tune into WBCQ four years later, and you'll hear the message being delivered in the exaggerated accent of an Italian-American New Yorker, to the tune of John Lennon's "Imagine":
Imagine there's no homos. I hate those little fudge-packin' nancy-boy pricks; Manolo, every time I see one, I wanna beat 'im in the friggin' head; You know what I mean? Then I'll rip his heart out, cut off his friggin' little [beeped out]; Imagine all the [gays], oh Manolo, just droppin' dead from AIDS... .
When the song ends, the regular voice of the show's host returns, chuckling. "You don't hear music like that on any radio show, but you hear it here on 'The Hal Turner Show.'"
And the place to hear "The Hal Turner Show" is WBCQ.
Though there are 16 privately owned shortwave stations in the United States, Weiner's is the only one that sells airtime — Monday evening, 8 to 9 p.m. EST — to what Turner loves to call the "most controversial talk show in the world."
But several shortwave station owners sell airtime to radio show hosts with messages that would fit right in on "The Hal Turner Show."
Most owners, like Weiner, argue that they are simply supporting freedom of speech — not making a mint off hate speech.
"It's not a business thing," insists Jeff White, co-owner of Miami-based WRMI, which sends its mostly Latin American listeners a "religious" show that vilifies and ridicules anyone who's not a heterosexual Anglo-Saxon. "The money we're talking about is insignificant."
Not insignificant enough to consistently turn away, however. Other owners are more matter-of-fact about their motives for airing hate-filled broadcasts.
"We do have to stay alive," says George McClintock, general manager of WWCR in Nashville, which claims more than 10 million listeners worldwide.
Besides paying the bills, McClintock says hate broadcasters fill another important — and frightening — role: "They draw an audience."
But Isn't Lynching Murder?
Why would a self-styled peacemaker of the airwaves run the most inflammatory show on shortwave? Questioned by the Intelligence Report, Weiner noted that Hal Turner "has a lot of support and he has people sending him money so he can pay his bills."
But Weiner insists that he doesn't air Turner's show just because he's a good paying customer. It's a matter of principle. "The reason it's on," he said, "is because of a promise I made my listeners [to be] open to all kinds of people."
Turner, a former real-estate salesman in New Jersey who failed in a 2000 run for Congress, certainly takes aim at all kinds of people.
His frequent rants about "faggots" are only the tip of the iceberg. Turner talks about "savage Negro beasts," "lazy-ass Latinos ... slithering across the border with wet backs" and "bull-dyke lesbians." He has described Israeli soldiers as "the spawn of Satan" who "deserve to be hunted down and killed."
In the creative revision of John Lennon's classic song, listeners were asked to "Imagine there's no cripples," with the faux-Italian voice adding, "Christ, I wanna kill those goddamn little wheelchair gimps."
Hate murder is a theme of "The Hal Turner Show," which last year repeatedly advertised an imaginary product called the "Portable Nigger Lyncher."
"Does the community where you live tend to be getting darker and darker?" asked a voice with an overblown Southern accent. "Are you looking for an evening of entertainment with your friends and family? Well, folks, this is the answer to your prayers. The one and only PNL — Portable Nigger Lyncher. Complete with two ropes and custom hand-tied nooses."
Such messages appear to clearly violate Weiner's hate-speech policy, posted on the WBCQ website. "WBCQ Radio shall not broadcast any speech which incites hatred" likely to lead to "physical harm," it promises. The policy goes on to define off-limits hate speech as "advocating or promoting ... killing."
Doesn't lynching count? "Hal Turner doesn't build his whole show around this," Weiner replied. Besides, "Hal does know that I am upset with his program." In fact, he said in all seriousness, he's put Turner on "double-secret probation."