Pirate Radio by Dr. Tom Field

August 15, 2016
Pirate Radio
The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program is the active expression of hope. In a world of chaos and uncertainty, entrepreneurship is an idea, a concept, perhaps even a philosophical approach to life that embraces solutions, opportunities, and the innate capacity of human beings to use creativity, innovation, and sweat equity to build something of value.  Entrepreneurship is impossible without claiming accountability, accepting risk, and developing relationships that connect skills, experiences and networks in a meaningful manner.

My first entrepreneurial experience was actually driven by my friend Dan who at an early age developed a fascination with radio broadcasting.  In sixth grade, he built a radio station in his bedroom which allowed him to broadcast within about a four-block square area.  However, with a bit of innovative engineering he was able to boost the range to nearly half of the homes in our rural community.  My friend Rex and I were employed as scouts and mounted on our trustee three speeds complete with banana seats and equipped with a battery powered transistor radio we would test the limits of the broadcast and the strength of the signal.  We helped with scripts and programming while Dan in his most Chet Huntley voice would share the news, sports, weather, and assorted commentary with all who would listen.  As I recall, eventually Dan’s pirate radio enterprise either interfered with the local station or annoyed some of the citizenry and the FCC shut him down.  But the management at KGUC recognized his ambition and by the time Dan was a senior in high school he was the voice of media in Gunnison, Colorado.

Twelve-year old Dan was teaching us that an idea without execution was not nearly as much fun as actually getting to market, having a live signal and sending our voice onto the airwaves.  He was modeling the power of experimentation, of taking action, and of not letting limited resources get in the way of making stuff happen.  He didn’t see his bedroom – he saw his own version of the NBC newsroom; he liked music that the local station hadn’t yet embraced and thought he could do something about sharing it, and come hell or high water he was not about to settle for playing radio station when he could actually have a live broadcast.  

Tom Peters exclaims that the only way forward is to try things – lots of things and to engage in the experimental model of hypothesis testing – i.e. TAKING ACTION.  If you have the gleam in your eye and fire in your belly then go for it – leave the comfort of the harbor and set sail for the new land.
Tom Field