Pirate Radio was a substantially controversial radio program that aired Friday nights from midnight to 1 a.m. on T-FM (90.7 FM and 105.1 FM) in Nashville, Tennessee. The program ran from 1999-2001, until it was cancelled suddenly and without explanation by the parent station, WNAZ, which is owned by Trevecca Nazarene University.


Classified as "comedy", Pirate Radio combined live on-air personalities with pre-recorded sketches, commercial parodies, live call-ins, and alternative rock. The title and premise of the show seemed to revolve around the hostile takeover of a commercial radio station. The show was hailed as Saturday Night Live for radio, and often compared with Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr. Show with Bob and David and The Howard Stern Show. On-air, creators once credited the Radio Free Vestibules and Mystery Science Theater 3000 with creative inspiration. Production values varied from excellent to poor, although it is unknown if obvious "mistakes" were or were not intentional -- meant to simulate an actual illegal broadcast.



The wattage of both 90.7 FM and 105.1 FM were reportedly elevated during the broadcast hours of Pirate Radio to levels that required a higher classification than the station currently possessed, although show creators denied this. No citations regarding power were ever issued by the FCC.

However, according to the FCC, there were 78 complaints filed against Pirate Radio due to objectionable content, including 63 complaints in the year 2001 alone. Telephone call-ins seemed to be unscreened most of the timeTemplate:Fact, and callers on occasion used profanity or referenced improper subjects. Although the calls were immediately terminated, many complaints were still made.

Pre-recorded sketches often parodied celebrities and varying social situations using provocative dialog. Much criticism arose when some listeners and parent groups claimed the show unnecessarily depicted (albeit via audio) violence and, more specifically, excessive gunfire.

Possibly most controversial was the sexual suggestiveness of a few sketches, although the innuendo was well within FCC regulations (most of these complaints had less to do with explicit words or phrases, and focused instead on the "situations" themselves). While there were very few on-air references to producers defending or justifying content of any kind, there remain countless examples of listener call-ins voicing support for the show.

Lipscomb commentsEdit

In February of 2000, the show was put on a two-week hiatus when a producer (Travis Young) made disparaging remarks on-air about Lipscomb University during a news segment. The comment stated that Lipscomb University "charged an arm and two legs" for tuition, and specifically referred to Kaia Jergenson, a Lipscomb freshman whom had received much local news coverage because she had recently suffered the amputation of several limbs due to complications from meningitis. Friends and family members of Kaia Jergenson lodged numerous complaints in protest, and the parent station, WNAZ, suspended production of the show for two weeks. No public statements were released by any representatives of the station, or Pirate Radio. The Tennessean covered this scandal extensively.

Infamous sketchesEdit

Cereal Killers (recurring) Postcards from the Edge with Al Gore (recurring)
Cops At DisneyWorld Spanish Lessons w/ Quarantino (recurring)
D-Rock's Fables (recurring) That 50's Show
The Exercisist There's Nothing About Mary
Mr. Chester's Neighborhood When Rednecks Go Bowling
Plethora Man When Rednecks Go Shopping
Poor Sally (recurring) The X-Files Valentine Special

Post-cancellation resurgenceEdit

Although the show remained unpopular (at best) and unknown (at worst) while it was originally on-air, it has since gained respect, notoriety, and an almost cult-like status with the advent of internet file-sharing (peer-to-peer) clients. In the absence of an attested copyright, all audio from the show has been declared “public domain.” Consequently, several entertainment sources have featured sketches and other audio from Pirate Radio.

Notable appearances and referencesEdit

  • Early in 2003, the marginally syndicated program Off Beat Cinema pantomimed a dance number to the audio of the Pirate Radio sketch "The Exercisist" during a host-segment.
  • WNEW-FM (102.7 FM, New York, NY) in January and February 2003 featured the Pirate Radio sketches “COPS At DisneyWorld,” “COPS At DisneyWorld 2,” and “Cereal Killers 2” during the Ron and Fez show which aired evenings 7-11 PM (ET).
  • The CBC Radio programme Definitely Not the Opera featured several lesser-known Pirate Radio sketches, commercial parodies, and call-in bits. Aired in the spring and summer of 2003, these partially include:
  • The nationally syndicated John Boy & Billy Big Show played two Pirate Radio sketches on December 16 and 17, 2004, during a segment called “The John Boy and Billy Playhouse.” The sketches were: “When Rednecks Go Shopping” (Dec. 16) and “When Rednecks Go Bowling” (Dec. 17).
  • The show NonProductive (on WRSU-FM 88.7 FM in New Brunswick, New Jersey) occasionally plays Pirate Radio sketches. In March of 2006, they played an entire hour-long Pirate Radio show that originally aired in 2001.
  • In June 2006, numerous clips of sketches obtained through the file-sharing network Morpheus were played by The Russ Martin Show, airing evenings on KLLI-FM (105.3 FM in Dallas, Texas).
  • During the March 5, 2007 episode of Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld on the Fox News Channel, Andrew Levy made several references to the Pirate Radio sketch “Mister Chester's Neighborhood.” Without citing the sketch or Pirate Radio directly, he called a guest on the show "King Lucy" and asked him if he "heard Dick Nixon tell her/him to wear dresses when s/he straddled a live mine in Vietnam." Later in the show, he called Rachel Marsden "Mrs. Whips."



  • Notable Nashvillians who are (outspoken) fans of the show include novelist Tony Earley, film actress Annie Potts, and TV actress Lark Voorhies.
  • In an interview during the Ron and Fez show in February 2003, WNYW's Julie Banderas commented that Pirate Radio sketches (that had just been featured on the program) were "the funniest thing[s] I've ever heard on air."
  • The official names of many sketches were not known until they became available for download on Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and BearShare.
  • The music playing during the intro is the same soundtrack playing during the main titles of Fight Club, by the Dust Brothers.
  • During the show aired on February 23, 2001, there were a total of 29 gunshots, including the two during the intro.
  • At least one-third of the call-ins were staged. They were some of the same voices doing the sketches. Sometimes you could tell the callers were talking into a mike in the studio, instead of a telephone.Template:Fact
  • "Plethora Man" was the only sketch never replayed. To date, no copy is known to exist. Although excerpts of the March 9, 2001 program are available, "Plethora Man" has been omitted.
  • The producer got into a 7-minute argument with a caller who was complaining about the content of the March 9, 2001 show. This was obviously live, unscripted, and unplanned. The caller complained about sketches that hadn't even aired that night, and told the producer he was going to hell.
  • There are countless references to Trevecca Nazarene University.
  • The "Poor Sally" sketch that aired on April 27, 2001 recycled a joke from The Daily Show with Craig Kilborn used in 1997. The joke referred to the crash of TWA Flight 800, and said, "TWA: the airline that covers the world...and sometimes New York harbor."
  • Two different sketches depicted the Trix Cereal Rabbit as a homosexual (they even used phraseology such as "that fruity rabbit" and "Peter cock-in-tail").
  • The weekly segment "D-Rock's Fables" featured an instrumental (acoustic guitar) version of "What a Wonderful World" playing softly as background music.
  • For the first 6 months of the show, no one used their real names. They went by aliases like, "Chunky Cheese" and "Albino Alligator".
  • Many sketches had subliminal messages backmasked into the audio. These messages usually were either inside jokes, or self-referential promotion. This was most notably heard in "The Exercisist" when the Rosie O'Donnell character speaks gibberish while possessed (" 'Nihctib Si Oidar Etarip").
  • Britney Spears was (fictitiously) killed off two separate times in Pirate Radio sketches. She suffered 4 fatal gunshot wounds in "COPS at DisneyWorld 2", and in the January 26, 2001 "Poor Sally" she was pureed by a razor-sharp giant revolving fan blade. Both times they used an obviously male, squeaky falsetto voice to parody her.
  • One person always listed in the credits was Ken Barnes, "Because it's all his fault." Ken Barnes is thought either to be completely fictional, or the weekly reference was an elaborate in-joke.
  • The credits at the end of the show were said over a live recording of Andy Kaufman singing, "It's Time to Say Goodbye".

Pirate radio staffEdit

  • Eric Arpelar
Personality, 1999
  • "D-Rock" Derek Hamer
Personality, 2000-2001
Voice (sketch), 2000-2001
Writer, 2000-2001
  • Jonathan Hunter
Executive Producer, 2000
Personality, 1999-2000
Voice (sketch), 1999-2000
Writer, 1999-2000
  • Jason Pierce
Call Screener, 2001
Voice (sketch), 2000-2001
Writer, 2000-2001
  • Nate Pruitt
Personality (news), 2000
Voice (sketch), 2000
Writer, 2000-2001
  • Christiana Shepherd
Personality, 2000-2001
Voice (sketch), 2000-2001
  • Jared Sinclair
Production Assistant, 2000-2001
Voice (sketch), 2000-2001
Writer, 2000-2001
  • Travis Young
Engineer, 1999-2001
Head Writer, 1999-2001
Personality (news), 2000-2001
Producer, 1999-2001
Voice (sketch), 1999-2001

External linksEdit

Template:Multi-listen start "Pirate Radio Intro" (file info)

Intro to the program during 2001
"Some call it crazy, some call it criminal...We call it Pirate Radio."

Template:Multi-listen start "COPS at DisneyWorld" (file info)

"Yep, the Magic Kingdom never changes..."

Template:Multi-listen start "Poor Sally 3" (file info)

"She's nice...she's funny...but somehow, everyone she loves dies!"

Template:Multi-listen start "Mr. Chester's Neighborhood" (file info)

"Well, that wasn't so bad, was it?" (CHILDREN START CRYING)

See alsoEdit

Template:Original research

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