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Back to VISTA Library Far Right Radio Review
This Rise of Far-Right/Hate Programming on the Shortwave Bands

by James Latham, April 1994

In September of 1987, when RFPI first went on the air using the shortwave medium, one of it's tasks was to give a voice to progressive ideas and to counter the disinformation sometimes emitted from the multitude of governmental and religious stations that filled the shortwave broadcast bands.

A little over two years ago, a new type of program format emerged on a number of private U.S. shortwave broadcast stations. These programs had far-right political or religious agendas (or both). They include elements of the Populist Party , neo-Nazis, the John Birch Society, Ku Klux Klan, Posse Comitatus, Christian Identity movement, various White Aryan organizations, survivalists, and conspiracy theorists. Before exploring these programs individually, we need to first look at the private shortwave broadcasting field in the U.S.

There are currently 17 active private shortwave broadcasters the U.S. The vast majority are owned and operated by religious organizations. Three of the seventeen are independent of religious ownership, but are willing to sell (or have already sold) blocks of air time to religious groups. Below is a list of these shortwave stations. The designators stand for:

R -- religious programming
P -- political programming
RFR -- religious far-right programming
PFR -- political far-right programming
MN -- mainstream news

PRIVATE U.S. SHORTWAVE BROADCAST STATIONS
Call letters Location Designator Special Notes
WSHB SC R/MN Owned by Christian Science Monitor
WCSN ME R Sold by C.S.M. to another religious group
KGEI CA R  
KJES NM R Cultish sounding program
KTBN UT R Part of Trinity Broadcasting network
KNLS AK R  
KWHR HI R Sister station to WHRI
WHRI IN R/RFR Has 100,000 watt capacity
KCBI TX R/RFR Rumored Dr. Gene Scott silent partner
WEWN AL R Four 500,000 transmitters
WINB PA R/RFR Pastor Pete Peters considering buying
WJCR KY R Small church station 50,000 watts
WMLK PA R Owned by Assemblies of Yahweh
WRMI FL P/PFR Anti-Castro broadcaster
WRNO LA P/R/PFR/RFR One 50,000 watt transmitter
WWCR TN P/R/PFR/RFR Three 100,000 watt transmitters
WYFR FL R

Historically, private U.S. shortwave broadcasters have had a long tradition of transmitting missionary style programming. The basic idea of this programming is to convert some impoverished individual, possibly an indigenous person, with a simple shortwave receiver, living in a remote region. While the damage done by this conversion of indigenous cultures worldwide has long been debated, what we are witnessing today is the emergence of a different kind of programming altogether. Whereas in the past U.S. private stations targeted remote areas or Eastern bloc countries, today's far-right/hate broadcasts are aimed at listenership within the U.S. itself. Toll-free call-in shows are widely used as well as toll-free order lines for selling books, subscriptions, newsletters, and memberships. Unlike the missionary broadcasts of the past that used an assortment of languages, today's far-right programs are for the most part in English. It is clear that these far-right broadcasts are for U.S. domestic use. Of course, at the power levels that these stations use there is a "spilling out" effect, sending the messages worldwide.


WHAT'S THE MESSAGE?: While there seem to be new shows being added weekly, the following are a small sample of what can be heard.

Ernst Zündel's Voice of Freedom

This is one of the few programs broadcast in another language (German). Zündel is the author of a 507 page book, "Did Six Million Jews Really Die in the Holocaust?" He has been charged and acquitted in Canada of spreading hate material. Anti-Semitic/anti-holocaust, his programs deal with holocaust revisionism. The Voice of Freedom has been broadcast in the past on WHRI (which later removed it on content grounds) and on WRNO, which, as of this writing, continues to broadcast it.

Pastor Pete Peters' Scriptures for America

Pastor Peters is aligned with the Christian Identity movement. This movement has its racist roots in the 1930's. Christian Identity theology provides a religious base for racism and anti-Semitism. Pastor Peters routinely hits on gays, lesbians, feminists, and the "liberal" press and politicians.

In a recent broadcast, Pastor Peters was heard repeating over and over, "The Bible says it's OK to kill homosexuals." On another show, he featured his wife, who runs a church summer camp. She came on to bear witness that Peters is not a white supremacist neo-Nazi. Later, the topic turned to the time when Peters was giving his wife a lesson on the use of their Mini 8 semi-automatic weapon. It seems that she accidentally sprayed the ceiling of their home with bullets.

It should be noted that there is no love lost between Christian Identity followers and Christian fundamentalists. Jerry Falwell and others are often named in broadcasts as traitors, because of their "support" of Israel.

Pastor Pete Peters is on shortwave stations WINB, WHRI, and others. There are rumors that he has bought into WINB and that he is beginning to explore TV cablecasting.

Kurt Saxon -- Survivalist and former American Nazi

The theme of recent Kurt Saxon programs has been survivalist training with a good helping of racism thrown in. Topics described include how to build a shotgun for $5 using parts from your local hardware store (his organization offers detailed plans), and how to kill someone while they are sleeping using carbon dioxide (dry ice). It leaves no evidence, according to Mr. Saxon. A few shows later he offered advice on what to do with the dead body: "Throw it outside your house and when someone comes by asking about it, say the militia shot him."

Mr. Saxon takes audience call-ins and gives "advice" to callers. His program is broadcast over WWCR, Nashville, Tennessee.

Kevin Alfred Strom -- American Dissident Voices

Yet another neo-Nazi, Kevin gives long monotone speeches. This program is produced by William Pierce's National Alliance. Content is typically revisionist, racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. A recent speech centered around how (according to Mr. Strom) the United States could withstand total economic collapse, but the U.S. could not withstand "interracial breeding." Mr. Strom promotes something called "racial science." National Vanguard Radio does not take call-ins, but does advertise a large assortment of books it sells to listeners. NVR is currently on WRNO, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Tom Valentine -- Radio Free America

This is one of the most eclectic programs of the far-right on shortwave, encompassing populist politics, conspiracy theories, anti-Food and Drug Administration activism, cancer cures, gun control, perpetual energy and every other crazy idea even remotely connected to the far-right.

On a recent Radio Free America  program, a guest reported the uncovering of an alleged plot by Hillary Clinton and three Jewish scholars to murder deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster. These allegations, according to guest Sherman Skolnick, were from meetings he'd had with a Secret Service agent.

Radio Free America  is a very slickly produced show that takes call-ins and advertises various books and pamphlets from its parent organization, the Liberty Lobby. This reactionary think tank also publishes a weekly newspaper, The Spotlight.

To better understand the politics behind Radio Free America, one needs to look at the origin of the Liberty Lobby and a key individual in its founding, Willis Carto.

From his book on racism and the far-right, Blood in the Face, author James Ridgeway describes Willis Carto as one of the most enduring, mysterious figures in post-war far-right history. Early on, he was involved in the John Birch Society. In the 50's, he created a bulletin called Right, which attacked big business, foundations, and Jewish organizations. In August 1957, Right  announced the formation of the Liberty Lobby. Excerpting again from Blood in the Face: "A Liberty Lobby representative testified at a 1967 hearing on the omnibus civil rights bill, arguing the line of "negro immaturity'" -- claiming that blacks were a "younger" race than whites, with lighter brains and less developed frontal lobes."

In the 1970's, the Liberty Lobby set up a network of radio stations, and in the early 90's it started broadcasting on shortwave over the facilities of WWCR, Nashville, Tennessee.

The Liberty Lobby and The Spotlight  supported David Duke (one time Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) for his presidential bid in 1988.

Radio Free America  is one of the most sophisticated and well financed shows from the far-right on shortwave. Many other far-right groups using shortwave today may have gotten their cue from Radio Free America. A "watering hole effect" around four or five shortwave stations seems to exist.


THE STATIONS

Why shortwave? Actually, it's not just on shortwave. Many far-right programs are simulcast on shortwave/AM/FM stations. But as the audience for these hate-filled programs is not concentrated within any one geographical location, shortwave works well for them.

Here is a hypothetical case that might best explain why shortwave is used. Let's say you lead the "Square Earth Society" with 10,000 members scattered across the U.S. You're based in Salem, Oregon. Until now, you've only been able to keep in touch with members with a monthly newsletter, but you need weekly contact. You can buy airtime on the local AM or FM station, but you only have 50 local members in that market. You can buy airtime on AM or FM stations in major cities around the U.S., but that's costly, and still leaves a lot of your people out. Finally, you could buy airtime on a shortwave station, at about the same price as a local station, and convince your members to buy (or sell to them) shortwave receivers. Now you can keep in touch with the "Square Earthers" weekly or even daily, plus attract new members from the vast corners of this square world. Some responsibility must go to the station owners for promoting the S.W. medium for use by far-right/hate programmers. If you ever have a chance to talk to a radio station owner (AM,FM,SW), you will generally find he/she is committed to his/her station's format. He/she likes it. Plus, he/she knows the format will pay off in $$$. It takes big bucks to start ($1-5 million), run, and maintain a shortwave station. Mainstream commercial advertisers never really got the hang of selling their products over this medium. This forced the owners to sell large airtime blocks. A sign of success by the far-right on using shortwave is the fact that often you hear a new far-right/hate program start up with a half hour a week and quickly jump (sometimes within a few months) to several airings a week. Within a year, some are commenting on either buying or building a shortwave facility.


LISTENERSHIP

As stated earlier, these broadcasts are targeted to the North American audience, but of course, shortwave stations (unlike AM or FM) are quite often heard worldwide. From listening to the number of phone call-ins they get, one would guess that they have a good many listeners, particularly the survivalists and conspiracy theorists. Listenership outside of the United States is anyone's guess, but please consider that the combined power of these stations broadcasting far-right programming is much stronger than that of most Latin American government stations, and probably rivals that of the shortwave broadcasting facilities of some European countries. Recently, a volunteer at RFPI visited one of the taverns in downtown San José, Costa Rica, where he was handed a pamphlet on a conspiracy theorist's view of a world secret government and the times and frequency to tune into one of the far-right programs on shortwave. On one occasion, we overheard a far-right preacher claiming to have sold 30,000 shortwave receivers to his followers.


WHAT ARE WE TO DO?

My personal response, besides this article, was to create a radio program -- The Far Right Radio Review. This was done after I heard a caller on one of the shows ask, "We have a lot of Martians down here. Can you advise us about a good weapon to get rid of them?" "Martians" in the far-right shortwave vernacular refers to people of color. The host of the show complied.

Certainly RFPI doesn't have the transmitting power or finances to top that of the combined power of these private shortwave stations has. However, we must counter this growing racist programming on the shortwave medium and bring it to the attention of the public.

In terms of the station owners, they must ask themselves, "Does it really serve the "public benefit" to broadcast techniques on how to kill people and how to get away with it?"

Finally, it is important to point out that not all programming on these shortwave stations is of this nature. Some good programs can also be found. However, a growing amount of airtime is being taken up by the far-right/hate broadcasters. Yet, what concerns one is not the number of programs currently on the air, but the rapid growth of the far-right on shortwave.


Information for this article was compiled from hundreds of hours monitoring shortwave broadcasts.

Additional information on the Christian Identity movement, Kurt Saxon, and the Liberty Lobby was taken from the book Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture, by James Ridgeway, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1990. General background information (frequencies and times of broadcast of the programs) can be found in the following publications:

Review of International Broadcasting and DX Listening Digest, published by Glenn Hauser, Box 1684, Enid, OK 73792 USA. wghauser@hotmail.com

A*C*E, Box 11201, Shawnee Mission, KS 66207 USA.

Passport to World Band Radio (a yearly shortwave directory), Box 300, Penn's Park, PA 18943 USA.

Monitoring Times (monthly magazine), P.O. Box 98, Brasstown, NC 28902-0098

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