Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sal "The Fish" gets hooked using pirate radio ...

This story reminds me of the PM Drive DJ at my first commercial station, KLEN/AM1050 in Killeen TX, where I worked while I was in the Army at Ft. Hood.

Luis (not his real name) played what is now called Ranchero music from 3-6PM.  Off the air he spoke with a kinda whiny voice, but once the mic opened, he pulled his voice and sounded bigger than life.  Honestly, even as an English-only speaker, I thought his show sounded great.  I love Ranchero.  Horns and accordions?  What's not to love?

Then one day I was called at my Ft. Hood office and offered 6-10PM on the AM and FM (the AM was a daytimer and the FM signed off at 10PM).  There had been a schedule realignment, I was told.  Luis was gone.  I'd been doing only Sunday mornings and this, even at $2.50 an hour, was a huge increase in my income.  A good deal for a young Sergeant with a family.  My First Sergeant and my CO said okay and I was off to the gig.

Turned out that (a) Luis had some awful brand of TB, (b) Luis was what back then was called an "undocumented worker" and had to be let go into the kind custody of La Migra and (c) Luis was running a numbers game on the air.  Hey, the show was in Spanish, he bought the three hours and who knew what the hell he was saying anyway?

From The Telegraph:

Salvatore Pesce, who was jailed five years ago on suspicion of international narcotics trafficking, reportedly used Radio Olimpia, in the Calabrian town of Rosarno, to communicate with gangsters operating outside the prison.

The station, which operated an unlicensed transmitter, was one of five companies raided and closed down by police in an operation that led to the arrest of 30 people accused of involvement in the Calabrian mafia or 'Ndrangheta, the Guardian reports.

The scheme was uncovered when police listening to a conversation between Pesce and his wife noticed he was talking about requesting certain songs on the radio. Initially the officers put it down to a love of music, but then they realised that Pesce was using the songs to find out about the outcome of his application for release.

According to a transcript leaked to the daily Il Giornale, Pesce told his wife, after scribbling down the name of a tune: "If it's positive you send me [this] song on the radio tonight. If it's negative you send me another."

The Pesce clan is one of two that have traditionally held sway in a city known for mafia-related violence.