WBCQ The Planet

File under: What I wish I could do, if I had the money.


Imagine, as an engineer, owning and running your very own radio station.  Not just any radio station, but a 50,000-watt flame thrower heard over most of the eastern US.  Dude!  Only one minor detail, it is a Shortwave station, which, by FCC regulation is only supposed to be listened to outside of the US, hence the official FCC name, International Broadcasting.  As I said, minor detail.

Anyway, WBCQ is heard at various times on 5110, 7415, 9330, and 15420 kHz both in and outside of the US.  Their full schedule here.  Last night I was treated to the Lost Discs radio show, featuring rare tracks not often found or heard anywhere.  It sounded like they were having a lot of fun and it was entertaining, which is why I continued to listen for well over an hour.  Besides this, they played a cover of one of my favorite songs, Wish you were here, as played by Kris McKay.

I put up the video for the song that was in it, and, no, I don’t know who those grainy people are.

It seems that the owner, Mr. Weiner is a fellow radio engineer and long-time radio enthusiast.  He was and still is a strong proponent of radio for the good of the public.  Most of his earlier attempts to own radio station fell on the other side of the legal line, being not quite sanctioned by any government authority.  At first, he did attempt to obtain a license and was turned down by the FCC, prompting him to write this reply (shamelessly lifted from Wikipedia):

…we went about a year ago … to apply for a license. Our attempt proved quite humorous to your employees, who sent us away with word of “Forget it.” Further investigations showed us why our attempt was then so comical. Licenses were so expensive and hard to get that even small stations were being sold for millions. Broadcasting was reserved for power men.
…We are not disputing, however, your right to assign channels and set aside bands for the prevention of interference. We certainly, however, are disputing your right to reserve broadcasting for the well-to-do only.

So, I applaud Allan Weiner and his never say never attitude.  Perhaps one day, I’ll apply for an international broadcasting license and do something similar.  I wonder if he gets many RFI complaints from people living around his transmitter site.  I once had one from somebody who was receiving the radio station on the outlets in their kitchen.  Seems Larry King was not their thing…

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2 thoughts on “WBCQ The Planet”

  1. It is quite easy to apply and obtain an International Shortwave Station license. FCC fees are around $2800 and you must have a 50 kW transmitter. Frequencies are coordinated with ITU and you have to pay a fee registration on the number of hours broadcast. You won’t have to worry about auctions because since this service is International in nature, and they really can’t be auctioned. So if you have a MW50B as a “friend”, it is easily converted to the 60 or 49 meter band. I’ve often thought of getting a SW license and operate nights since the energy tariffs favor “off-peak” usage. Otherwise, the cost of operation of a 50 kW transmitter without a revenue stream can be dis-heartening.

  2. He was (and I believe still is) running one of your friend’s older brothers, an MW50! Not the MW50B, but the early one with the Federal F-1099 damper diode tube. With the audio input response cut off above 5000 Hz. it sounds pretty good!

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