There are no signs of the protests against President Donald Trump ever coming to an end. This time hackers took over the airwaves in several radio markets across the country, forcing them to play the song “F*** Donald Trump” by rappers YG and Nipsey Hussle over and over for 15 minutes, or more, in some cases.
Radio stations taken over to protest Donald Trump
Multiple media outlets are reporting on the hacks, which affected radio stations in Indiana, South Carolina, Washington, California, Tennessee and Texas. It sounds like it wasn’t too difficult to do either, and while some stations took back control quickly and were able to switch to something else rather quickly, others weren’t.
Although it’s been a good many years since I worked at a radio station, I can tell you that even in those days, they were switching to a heavy reliance on computers. Tight budgets mean that there’s not always a human sitting at the controls, which means no one is there to quickly change when something like this happens. I worked at Indiana’s first internet radio station (shout-out to WUEV, University of Evansville) and saw the trend in its earliest days. Just program a playlist and let the computer do it. But then you open the door to hackers taking over for an extended period of time.
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The big question now is whether these stations will be fined by the FCC for the swear words in the Donald Trump song. It seems unlikely, given that it was out of their control, but anything’s possible with the government these days.
How did the hackers do it?
The hacks took place on inauguration day, although the news is only beginning to spread nationwide. According to Heat Street, most of the radio stations that were hacked have low-power FM transmitters with a Barix Exstreamer device and no password on the device. Most of the stations were also small community radio stations, which means their budgets are probably miniscule.
Crescent Hill Radio WCHQ 100.9 FM in Kentucky said they had they had to go off the air for four hours while they figured out how to switch off the song. All eight of the station’s staffers are volunteers. WFBS-LP Radio passed the IP address of the hacker onto the FCC and learned later that it was from outside the country.