Books: Sue Carpenter – 40 Watts From Nowhere (2004)

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by Mark Saleski

This is the amazing, hilarious and true story of Sue Carpenter, a woman who gave corporate radio and the FCC the big ‘ef U’ by starting her own pirate radio station — right out of her apartment atop a hill in San Francisco.

A career opportunity (writing for a magazine) and first attempt at junkie-boyfriend escape causes Carpenter to move KPBJ (yea, like the sandwich) to Los Angeles where her bedroom/closet station resurfaces as KBLT (yea, like the sandwich).

Now the real fun begins.

How many people can say that they’ve had the Red Hot Chili Peppers do an acoustic show from their apartment? That they’ve had Mike Watt and Sylvain Sylvain (to name just a couple) DJ on their radio station? That Mazzy Star performed a show at a benefit for their station?

I’m not saying that everything Carpenter went through was all rock romance (far from it), but she definitely put her ass on the line for something she believed in. A pretty danged rare commodity if you ask me.

KBLT’s first big era came to an end not in glamorous Pump Up The Volume-style but with a few FCC agents confiscating some equipment on an LA rooftop.

That’s OK though as the spirit of pirate radio lives on (check out Mike Watt’s The WATT from Pedro Show on the Internet).

Anybody interested in indie music and the washed-out state of commercial radio should check out 40 Watts To Nowhere.

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