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History of WJDI

I used to be way more into BCB and SW DX, or for those not familiar with those acronyms - Broadcast Band (BCB) and Short Wave (SW) distant signal reception (DX).

On both the AM (530-1730KHz) and SW (2MHz-30MHz) bands, it was not only licensed broadcasters I tuned into. So called "Pirate" stations were fun to listen to as well on frequencies such as 6955 KHz and even the AM BCB band.

Recently while at a hamfest, I got into great discussion with a vendor named Dave and we exchanged email addresses related to an upcoming event OMARC is sponsoring called IFARE.

When I questioned his email address with what appeared to be BCB station call letters, we became much more acquainted.

Here is the history behind WJDI

Unquestionably one of the most memorable and powerful Pirate Stations of the late 80's and early 90's, WJDI. The stories and rumors about this station still circulate at DX gatherings. The Operator was also a Vendor at Hamfests, along the East Coast, where he sold Coax and Connectors for many years.

He is said to have been planning a "50-kw transmitter on a flatbed train car" that was supposed to run from New York to California, but this never materialized. It is also rumored that he was using a Daytime AM broadcast station as his base transmitter, where he'd change the crystal at night, tune up the coils and blast out his signal, although this was certainly not the case as you can see from the photo of the WJDI studio and 15kW transmitter used for the Christmas, 1996, broadcast (pictured above) which was located in someones basement.

It played a variety of music during its full existence. The announcer would say they are "broadcasting with 1,000 clear watts". Claims of everything from 1,000-watts to 15,000-watts were made about this stations strength. Despite being a pirate, the station operator was a member of the National Radio Club. It was known as "The Pirate King". WJDI remained on until final close-down on December 25, 1996. (Courtesy of North American Pirate Hall of Fame)

Further fame via Wikipedia

WJDI was run by Dave Schneider. It began its broadcast on January 1, 1970, on 1580 kHz using a Meissner Signal Shifter as its transmitter. The Meissner Signal Shifter used plug-in grid coils wound for amateur radio frequencies. Later on, the station began using Collins 30K transmitter rated for about 300 watts. Since the transmitter only covered 3.5 mHz and higher, it a new set of plug-in coils with the aid of Schneider's Millen grid dip meter. In 1976, WJDI received a warning from the FCC for running a pirate station. In 1977, when Schneider moved to Arizona to work for Motorola Research on the Voyager II project, WJDI ceased its operations.

In Fall of 1989, WJDI was relaunched on 1620 kHz. This time, it used a home-made transmitter, which had an output power of 1,000 to 1,250 watts, & the final tube was a 4CX15000J and the modulators were 3000A7s driven with a FET modulation driver. A year later, its power increased to 2,500 watts. WJDI featured current music of the era with clever parody commercials between songs such as the famous dioxin “No Roach!” ad. In January 1991, WJDI was raided once again by the FCC, and was fined. As a result, WJDI went off the air for the next few years.

Schneider built a home-made 15 kW transmitter from scratch for 6 months. It was equipped with a Harris RF-1310 exciter, Harris RF-590 receiver, 4-1000a tube and 810s modulators. It turned out to be an actual AM broadcast band transmitter (not a 160 meter amateur rig). Its 300 ft. antenna had a horizontal 5-wire cage design, had the required 400 amp electrical service, and its design was directional with nulls produced in certain directions. Reception reports came in from all over the country and beyond. Only 2 official broadcasts were made: December 25 & December 31, 1996. From that point, WJDI was never heard on air again.********

Hudson Valley Wireless History
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  • Thanks for sharing! As a teen I always wanted to build a mobile FM Pirate station. I never did of course... but the idea was exciting! It's cool to hear about this... especially since it's about the time I wanted to "go pirate" when I was in Junior High and High School. :)

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