[ISN] WBAB radio signal hijacked

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Thu May 18 2006 - 02:02:45 PDT


Newsday Staff Writer
May 18, 2006

A popular morning program on WBAB radio was "hijacked" Wednesday,
station officials said, by someone who broke in on its broadcast --
apparently by using an illegal transmitter -- and played an offensive
song that repeated a racial epithet several times.

Station managers, already immersed in controversy over the Roger and
JP morning show's airing last week of a "Wetback Steakhouse" fake
commercial, said they were angered by the two-minute takeover and
contacted the Federal Communications Commission to investigate.

"I'd like to find out who did it," program director John Olsen said.  
"I'm not happy about it."

A similar incident occurred with WBAB's sister station WBLI about two
weeks ago with the same song, he said. The stations share a studio on
Sunrise Highway in Babylon.

Wednesday, the pirate broke into WBAB's broadcast about 7:15 a.m.,
interrupting "Hey You" by Pink Floyd and playing part of a country
music-style song that in addition to using the "n word" suggests
killing blacks.

It also refers to blacks getting welfare checks and includes an
offensive reference to Martin Luther King Jr.

The show's stunned hosts, John Parise and Roger Luce, and the
station's technicians were unable to block the pirate transmission,
Olsen said. After the intruder's song ended, several seconds of empty
air space followed until regular broadcasting resumed with the end of
the Pink Floyd song.

Parise and Luce explained to listeners that the transmission had been
taken over and stressed they had no part in playing the song.

Olsen said the station's engineers were investigating what happened
Wednesday, but he had one possible explanation. He said that from its
studio in Babylon, WBAB sends a high-frequency microwave signal to its
transmitting tower about six miles away in Dix Hills near the Long
Island Expressway.

"Somebody using an illegal transmitter and small antenna we believe
overtook our signal between the studio and the transmitter and that's
how they got in," he said. He added that the pirate would have to be
near the signal but not necessarily at the transmission tower.

"You have to be technologically pretty proficient in order to know how
to do it," he said. "The equipment is probably readily available and
if you know how to put the equipment together ... then it's something
that's possible."

He added that the station was taking steps Wednesday to ensure its
broadcast isn't hijacked again.

One listener said his jaw dropped Wednesday when he heard the song
come on, and he pulled over in his car to listen.

"At first I thought these guys were looking for a whole bunch of
trouble," said Frank Carpenter of Bohemia. But "clearly they were a
victim here."

One communications security expert, Johannes Ullrich of the SANS
Institute in Jacksonville, Fla., said pirate invasions of radio or
television stations were rare, although he has heard of some cases
such as the Falun Gong religious group hijacking a Chinese television
station for about 15 minutes.

WBAB, which bills itself as "Long Island's No. 1 Rock Station,"  
reaches all of the Island and operates with two frequencies: 102.3
covers from the Queens border to around the Riverhead area, while 95.3
covers the rest of the East End.

Last week, Parise and Luce apologized for the "Wetback Steakhouse"  
spot, and the station pulled it off the air.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

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