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My First Visit to One of the FCC's Field Offices

by: Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner

October 19, 2010

I just returned from a 36-hour trip to Georgia, during which I visited a great group of folk at the FCC’s field office in Duluth (which is overseen by our Enforcement Bureau). It was my first experience with one of our field offices, but interacting with our people on the ground – my hard-working colleagues outside of the bubble of Washington – was an invaluable experience for me…and one I intend to replicate soon.

Upon my arrival, I was picked up by Doug Miller, the District Director of the field office, in one of the FCC’s Mobile Direction Finding (MDF) vehicles. While it looks like a run-of-the-mill SUV on the outside, it contains state-of-the-art detection equipment that Doug and his team use to detect illegal (“pirated”) radio broadcasts. Armed with technology and experience, innumerable unauthorized radio broadcasts, which trespass into the airwaves of licensed programming as well as airplane/airport transmissions, have been located and shut down by the FCC’s Duluth team.

The field team also walked me through the technology and labor needed to detect and stop illegal cell phone jamming. This practice is increasingly prevalent throughout our prisons and schools, and my FCC colleagues showed me how jamming devices operate and how small and inconspicuous they can be.

Later in the evening, I met and spoke to the Federal Communications Bar Association’s Atlanta chapter. I saw some old friends and met many new ones, and listened to their feedback regarding what we’re doing in DC and what they’re doing in and around metropolitan Atlanta. I truly enjoy chatting with communications practitioners and attorneys throughout the country, as they offer so many insights that I don’t regularly hear in Washington.

The following day, I had the privilege of addressing the annual meeting of Eastern Regional Public Radio (ERPM), an association of over 70 non-commercial radio stations from Florida to Maine. I gave them an update on the FCC’s current deliberations on a variety of radio-related items and fielded questions from a number of the attendees. I am grateful to Georgette Bronfman, ERPM’s Executive Director, for giving me the opportunity to address such a great group and I look forward to staying in touch with many of those in attendance.

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