Almost every month QST and Monitoring Times report on one pirate radio operator or another who gets fined for illegally transmitting music or talk radio to their neighborhood.
Fortunately, pirate radio has more colorful characters in its history than these small fry.
In the 1980′s, as Panama was descending further down the slope of dictatorship, Kurt Muse decided to take to the airwaves in an effort to both appeal to the people of Panama and to taunt the Panamanian military. Whether or not the CIA was involved is anyone’s guess.
Muse was an American-born, Panamanian-raised owner of a Panama City print shop. After printing a poster for the local Rotary Club, he learned that something about the poster offended President Manual Noriega. The print shop was subsequently burned to the ground.
Muse, along with six native Panamanians, decided it was time to act. Together they put together a series of FM transmitters smuggled in from Miami and recorded a 3-minute tape appealing to the people of Panama to vote against Noriega in an upcoming election.
At the appropriate moment, the Muse team’s transmitters began sending this message over the same frequencies as the official FM stations that were broadcasting Noriega’s speech. The pirate transmitters were scattered throughout the country for maximum coverage.
The illicit broadcast from the “Voice of Liberty” made headlines in the next morning’s newpapers. And they continued.
For the next two years, Muse and his group’s equipment became more and more sophisticated, not only on FM broadcast frequencies but on military frequencies as well. Programming on the military freqs consisted of critiquing the day’s efforts of Noriega’s goons as they bullied the populace, transmitting disinformation and taunting various commanders.
Transmitter locations were changed frequently as Muse monitored attempts by the military to DF his location. Eventually he was found, arrested and tortured but never gave the identities or locations of the other team members.
After 9 months in prison, Muse was rescued by US Army’s Delta Force ops who killed the guard assigned to kill Muse in the event of a rescue attempt. Operation Acid Gambit was a success.
More about this story can be heard in Muse’s own words in this video, beginning at about 07:15.