Pirate station faces closing

Datz Hits serves 3 communities

By Cara Bayles
Globe Correspondent / October 9, 2010

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Datz Hits, a pirate radio station with community ties in Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury, is facing closing and a $30,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission.

According to an Oct. 1 notice from the FCC, the station was discovered by federal agents a year ago, after the WGBH-owned classical station at 99.5 FM complained that Datz Hits was broadcasting gospel, hip-hop, and Caribbean music at 99.7 FM, and drowning out the licensed frequency for listeners in Dorchester and Mattapan.

Enforcement agents tracked the signal to a multifamily home on Ormond Street in Mattapan, where they found an unlicensed station running out of the basement, according to the FCC notice.

Lloyd Morris and Robert Brown later admitted to being the station’s owners and operators, and they agreed to shut off the transmitter.

In February 2010, the station started up again, and agents found an illegal signal emanating from the same Ormond Street home, according to the FCC’s report.

On Oct. 1, the agency issued $15,000 fines to each of the station’s owners. The standard fine is $10,000, but the enforcement office increased it because of the prior offense.

According to Brown and Morris, the station has not been run out of the Mattapan home since they turned off the transmitter there a year ago. The station is on the air, but they say it is operating out of Dorchester now.

They also say that they applied for a license prior to their trouble with the FCC and never heard anything from the agency.

The FCC’s database does not list any applications for licensing from Morris, Brown or Datz Hits. Even if it did, the process for licensing can be a waiting game, with frequencies going up for auction as they become available, said FCC spokesman Eric Bash.

Brown says that Datz Hits broadcasts only to a few neighborhoods and that the enforcement is unwarranted.

“We’re not interfering with ambulance or police radio signals, and we have no complaints from neighbors,’’ he says. “I don’t see what we’re doing wrong. We’re here for the people. We’re the people’s voice.’’

Lloyd and Morris say they collected 450 hats and scarves in a winter clothing drive last year, distributed 75 turkeys for Thanksgiving last year, and donated several boxes of goods to the Red Cross for earthquake relief in Haiti.

They say they have collected more than a thousand signatures on a petition asking that they be allowed to continue operating.

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