Governor Deval Patrick criticized federal agents for shutting down TOUCH 106.1 FM, an unlicensed Boston radio station that calls itself the “fabric of the black community.”
According to the station’s founder, US Marshals raided the station Thursday and seized broadcasting equipment. Charles Clemons, who operates the “pirate radio” station, also ran for Boston mayor last year. Although the station was unlicensed by the Federal Communications Commission, Patrick emphasized its importance to the community.
The Boston Globe reported:
"I'm incredibly disappointed," Patrick said today. "I understand what the legal basis is, but you'd like to think of their bringing more of a problem-solving approach. TOUCH is a pretty important voice in the community. I've been on it many times and have tremendous respect for the team over there."
This isn’t Clemons’ first run-in with the FCC, according to The Boston Globe. In 2008, the agency fined him $17,000 for “willfully running an illegal radio station.” Clemons did not pay that fine.
TOUCH FM’s Grove Hall station is located in Dorchester, and broadcasts to parts of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Jamaica Plain. It seeks to encourage civic engagement, and offers services like free legal advice to community members who could not otherwise afford it.
Clemons acknowledges that his station is unlicensed, reportedly joking about it on air. He told The Boston Globe:
"Just because something is legal, does not make it right," he said. "We are the Rosa Parks of radio."
In a video from TOUCH FM’s Youtube account, Clemons claimed that he had applied for a license from the FCC.
The station notes on its website that it is a nonprofit, but is not registered with the Internal Revenue Service or the state attorney general’s office. Last year, when asked to clarify the station’s nonprofit status, owner John Laing “did not respond.”
The FCC has shut down Clemons’ FM broadcast, but TOUCH FM continues on – thanks to live-stream technology and an internet connection.