After years of raids and equipment seizures against pirate radio, the Federal Communications Commission has reversed itself and proposed licensing low-watt FM stations. The FCC says it wants to diversify the monopoly-controlled airwaves by getting licenses into the hands of minorities and women. So you can expect local favorites like Silver Lake’s KBLT (alternative music from a woman, Paige Jarrett) and Highland Park’s Spanish-language Radio Clandestina (culturally relevant news and entertainment) back on the air, right? Wrong. Despite its public kiss-and-make-up stance, the FCC’s proposed rules could disqualify any operator who has been busted for outlaw broadcasts from getting a license. In other words, “the Rosa Parks of the micro-radio movement — people who have stood up and maintained that the law is unconstitutional” — may be banned from the industry they pioneered, says Lyn Gerry of Radio Clandestina. (Jarrett was among 10 California pirate broadcasters shut down by the FCC in 1998.)
Even if the FCC rejects the ban, a big lobbying effort is expected from the heavyweight radio-industry trade group, the National Association of Broadcasters. What is the NAB’s take on sharing the airwaves with alternative and neighborhood micro-stations? “Bad, bad, bad,” says spokesperson John Earnhardt. Mike Bracy of the Low Power Radio Coalition in Washington, D.C., says the NAB packs a punch inside the Beltway “as strong as the tobacco and firearm lobby.” And Congress, with its penchant for kowtowing to special interests, has the statutory muscle to bring the FCC plans to a screeching halt at any time. The FCC proposed the new licensing after receiving 13,000 Web-site hits and phone calls protesting commercial hegemony over the airwaves; the public can weigh in on the proposed rules before April 12 at www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html (mmdocket#99-25). “If people don’t comment, they lose their opportunity to influence the FCC,” Bracy says.
Actress Sylvia Miles once braved an East Coast blizzard with her leg in a cast to attend a near-empty media event. Ms. Miles would have felt right at home at the grand opening of the first L.A.-area Hooters restaurant. The official who’s-who list of has-beens that never were at the Promenade-adjacent Santa Monica location: Scott Baio, Tim Matheson, Lou Ferrigno, and that trolls’ troll, Politically Incorrect host Bill Maher. But who came to see celebrities? The real draw (besides the Hooters dingy owl mascot) were the Hooters girls. Something of a cross between the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, the girls are known for their prominently displayed racks. Now, the girls’ outfits were cute (orange Dolphin shorts and white tank tops over industrial-strength pantyhose and bras) but hardly immodest. The only conspicuous show of titty I observed was from some single men who had obviously overdone the pec implants and steroids. One overzealous Lothario with an orange tan tried to give me the once-over twice; I told him I had anal warts, and he mumbled back that he didn’t care, he had herpes — yikes!
This particular Hooters, No. 230 in the 41-state restaurant chain, is owned by Doug Schwartz, executive producer of Baywatch. I predict a mega-success, and not because of the tired TV tie-in. The charm bubbling up from the adorable Hooters girls was irresistible. My escort, a film director from Texas and a Hooters veterano, confirmed my impression that the vivacious appeal is sincere. The hostess told me that the girls undergo rigorous motivational training to weed out those “who are not genetically predisposed to enjoying life at its fullest.” Enjoying life was certainly the mission statement of the waitresses I spoke to, including 22-year-old aspiring singer/actress Ryan Rocks. And Lush, a girl who proudly lives up to her name. When I mentioned to Lush, a student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise majoring in visual communications (of course), that Hooters needs to start another theme restaurant with boys in thong bikinis, she shot me a mischievous grin and winked. “Hey, they can call it Woofers!” she said.
There’s a Polaroid camera in Dolores Reece’s glove compartment, the latest weapon in her war on crime. Or at least one crime: the illegal posting of commercial signs on cyclone fences and empty storefronts. Councilman Nate Holden and City Attorney James Hahn last week began handing out cameras to ordinary citizens to document violations of L.A.’s anti-utility-pole-ad ordinance. The program follows a change in the law in January that allows city prosecutors to cite advertisers based solely on a picture of an offending flier. Reece is happy. “It beats what we did have,” the neighborhood activist proclaims. “Which was nothing.”
But not everyone thinks camera-slinging snitches are a good idea. ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg is offended, although he believes the snapshot vigilantes would be tough to beat in court. “When you’re in public,” he explains, “you don’t really have much of a reasonable expectation of privacy.” Holden says residents of his district spend hours tearing down posters, only to find them replaced in the morning. “The residents are our eyes and ears in the community,” he touts the program. “Our first line of defense.”
Now, no one wants to defend corporate graffiti. Record companies and nightclubs are the big offenders; House of Blues and Shaquille O’Neal have been cited. But the councilman’s statement has a distinct Orwellian edge. Citizen snoops serving as the eyes of the government — Big Brother is watching, indeed. What’s next? Block brigades with mandated celluloid rations, snapping photos of messy clotheslines? Dirty recycling bins? Uneven hedge trims? “As there are more cameras in public, you should expect that your right to privacy will decline,” Eliasberg warns. Holden’s office says Polaroids will be issued soon in all council districts . . . Say cheese!
PASADENA GETS A MAYOR
The “Old Guard” in Pasadena showed it isn’t ready to turn the city over to the younger generation yet, in Tuesday’s first-ever citywide mayoral election. Bank vice president and former Mayor Bill Bogaard, drafted by leaders from the city’s established neighborhood associations in the name of a “citizen legislator” tradition, took a commanding lead for the April 20 runoff by snatching a solid 42.8 percent of the vote.
Mayor Chris Holden, 38, architect of the charter changes that put the mayor’s election in the hands of Pasadena voters instead of the council, thought he was on the road to becoming the first occupant of the post he created — until Tuesday night. That road got bumpy when the 60-year-old Bogaard was drafted, directly in response to the candidacy of Holden, who was branded a professional politician. When the votes were tallied, Holden, the son of L.A. Councilman Nate, ranked well behind, with 25.3 percent. Republican Ann-Marie Villicana finished third in a field of 10, with 24.4 percent of the vote as the Weekly went to press.
Backed by the county AFL-CIO, Holden mounted an ambitious get-out-the-vote drive, but he managed a first-place finish in just his own and one other council district, where turnout was sparse. Holden’s 25-plus percent showing this week does not augur well for his runoff fate, since much of the vote for candidates eliminated in this round came from Republicans. Both he and Bogaard are registered Democrats. But Holden, who had the party’s backing, is widely viewed as partisan. By midnight Tuesday, Bogaard was leading in five of seven council districts.
Incumbent City Councilman Bill Paparian was knocked out of the picture — and off the council, because his term expires this year — by winning just 3.7 percent Tuesday. Republican Villicana, a 32-year-old attorney-realtor from a wealthy west-side neighborhood, may also lose her council seat, but could slip into second place (and the runoff) when more than 1,700 absentee and provisional ballots are counted later this week. Holden will keep his council seat because he is in midterm.