Remembering the Ministry of
The Reverend Dr. Carl McIntire
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The Christian Beacon
September 6, 1973

Table of Contents:

The following items appeared in the Thursday, September 6, 1973 issue of the Christian Beacon which focused on the media coverage surrounding Radio Free America, the good ship Columbus and Dr. McIntire's historic battle with the Federal Communications Commission.
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Christian Beacon
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By Faith…

My dear Radio Friend:

Cape May opened with the Congress of the International Council of Christian Churches and the seal and blessing of God upon the glorious testimony. It closed with a freedom ship at sea and the most delightful opportunity to bear testimony to the Gospel. God in His providence has joined the issue with the United States government on the rights of the people to their freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. A press has shown an interest exceeding anything that we have known in the past. Friends are arising.

Just what the future holds only God knows, and it is with faith that we take each step. Our readers may help with their contributions. They are needed very badly. All may help by getting the petitions signed for use with Congress. Contact with local media, letters to the public opinion columns, encouragement to local radio stations – all these open avenues for testimony. The special Christian Beacon subscription drive, good until September 15, needs your attention.

Be grateful for the radio stations that are carrying the 20th Century Reformation Hour. Please undergird the entire movement with your assistance and prayers. It is by faith that the good ship Columbus rides the waves and will carry her message of freedom and life. It is eternal life.

Carl McIntire

Columbus Dedicated

The good ship Columbus, anchored in international waters off Cape May, NJ, was dedicated on Labor Day, September 3, 1973. Technical difficulties which have beset the operation prevented the first signal from being broadcast at 11:30 am as was intended. The ship, riding in calm seas, flies two Christian flags.

The US Coast Guard boarded the ship last Friday afternoon, searched it from stem to stern, and demanded to see the registry, which they copied. Later they explained that they were making a report to Washington. The pretext used for boarding the ship was the sighting of an alleged oil slick which did not exist. The ship was not leaking any of its oil.

Television and news reporters have been attending every development. The pulpit used in 1938 in the Collingswood Bible Presbyterian Church and later in the Tabernacle, was taken to the ship for use in the ceremony. Dr. McIntire spoke for 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” And embossed plaque carrying the Mayflower Declaration had been provided for the dedication by women representing listeners of radio station WXUR. Mrs. Mary Killen was in charge of the plaque. Mrs. Dorothy White, missionary of the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions, presented a plaque on behalf of the staff in Cape May bearing the words of Alfred Lloyd Tennyson: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Dr. McIntire read the “Manifest of Freedom.”

Difficulties in securing even private boats to take individuals to the ship made it impossible for the crowd to attend. Television and press representatives continued to visit the ship throughout the day. Dr. McIntire, the Earl Whites, and Dr. Ralph Gross and his sons Ed and John, between visits to the ship, caught some 60 bluefish. At least five large sharks, “attended the dedication,” as their fins could be seen near the boat. Five yellow canaries, which came on the ship from Florida flitted about. The large poster, “Revival 76” was mounted near the bow of the ship.

Friday evening a small plane swooped over the stern and dropped a note. It was in a bag and cartridge used to mail film for development. The captain, after carefully opening it found a note addressed to “A and T” signed “S.” Whatever it’s code was, the meaning of the note has not been deciphered.

The press has been quoting attorneys for the Justice Department and lawyers for the Federal Communication Commission indicating that the government expects to take action against the ship. Developments are in the hands of almighty God.

Radio Free America Media Statement

On Thursday, August 30, a press conference was held at the Christian Admiral Hotel in Cape May, NJ, where details on Radio Free America and the good ship Columbus were first given to the mass media. Major networks and the nation’s two leading wire services were represented. The statement read to the press by Dr. Carl McIntire is as follows:

The good ship Columbus arrived on station in the north Atlantic off the coast of Cape May, NJ, at 4:46 pm, Wednesday, August 29, 1973.

The ship carries a 10,000-watt RCA transmitter and is fully equipped for broadcasting on the AM band and will be placed on the air as soon as it is technically possible. Dr. Carl. McIntire will record today on the ship, the first broadcast to be aired. The ship, a World War II minesweeper, is 140-feet long and is prepared to stay on station beyond the 3-mile limit permanently. It shall be manned by a ship’s crew and a radio staff on a round-the-clock basis. It is presently anchored, but it may also be mobile in its transmission. The ship was outfitted in the harbor at Cape Canaveral adjacent to the “Gateway to the Stars,” the Bible Conference and Freedom Center of which Dr. McIntire is the Director. The entire operation has been conducted in the utmost secrecy. The trip from Florida to Cape May was run without any communication. The ship is equipped for radar and ship-to-shore radio.

It flies the Christian flag. The flag of final registry under which it will operate will not be revealed until the first crackling of the ether waves. The wavelength, in view of the latest information from Washington, will be announced when the station goes on the air. The transmitter equipment is flexible, and the wavelength can be changed.

The ship is being held under tight security. Two previous efforts collapsed. One project had gone so far that a merchant ship 160-feet long had been placed in dry dock for final preparation in Trinidad. It flew the Saint Kitts flag. Fear of consequences from the State Department has haunted our efforts in a world-wide survey. Ships, moreover, have been scarce because of the demand for grain shipment.

There are no United States laws of Federal Communication Commission rules known to us applicable to this novel development. We are not engaged in civil disobedience but want to enjoy the God-given flexibility of the sea. Threats have been made by various United States authorities that the ship would be stopped and that Dr. McIntire would be arrested.

Station RFA will enjoy the blessings of liberty. It has been necessary to flee the mainland as a refuge in order to exercise the guarantee of the First Amendment without government harassment, intimidation, and repression.

The station programming will be open with all viewpoints and positions being made available. It will be anti-communist and pro-American. It will stand for the historic Christian faith. It will promote “Revival 76” as initiated by station WXUR and Faith Theological Seminary. This is a religious drive to call America back to God for the Bicentennial. It considers itself a sister ship to the peace ship presently operating in the Mediterranean. It is a freedom ship and a ship of faith.

My text today is Hebrews 11:27, “By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.”

The station challenges the speech czars in Washington. Congress has built a “Frankenstein” which exercises legislative, executive and judicial power and has become more powerful than Congress. These fractures of our system have to be repaired. Congress must take its power back into its own hands. We call for the same freedom for the radio and television stations as enjoyed by the press. The station will carry refugee programs for those who have fled from the iron curtain countries and who are now rarely heard. It will report the news of the China News Agency explaining the plight of the free Chinese as the Reds from Peking consolidate their demands that Formosa belongs to them.

In a dedication this afternoon a large Bible will be taken to the ship. The pulpit which Dr. McIntire used when he preached in a tent in Collingswood, NJ, will be mounted on the ship’s stern for the service. The studio on board will be dedicated to Louis Cassels, UPI religion editor and first vice-president, Aiken, SC. Mr. Cassels, in his weekly religion column, announced that he was making a contribution to the station. His personal check of $10 was the first to be received. McIntire has been feuding with Cassels for 20 years, calling for his removal or that the UPI employ a second reporter who would reflect the conservative opinion. Now Mr. Cassels and I have found a common platform on which to save freedom for everybody and the development of mutual respect and personal responsibility.

If Congress will put WXUR back on the air, as we are requesting by a special act, and give us back our freedom, radio station RFA will fold its sails and the people can see to it that Congress serves them rather than represses them in matters of speech and religion.

The death of WXUR, Media, PA, on July 5, 1973, gave birth to Radio Free America. Nineteen local Philadelphia groups petitioned the Federal Communications Commission not to renew the station’s license. These were led by the Greater Philadelphia Council of Churches and the New Jersey Council of Churches, opponents of Dr. McIntire in the religious conflict of the day. What has happened is that one religious group opposed to another has been successful in securing the aid of the United States government in silencing a group with which they did not agree.

McIntire Set to Broadcast from Ship
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 30, 1973
by Paul Taylor and Warren Brown of the Inquirer staff

CAPE MAY, NJ – Fundamentalist minister Carl McIntire, declaring that the “shackles of government tyranny have been broken,” officially welcomed Wednesday the arrival of a World War II Navy minesweeper containing his pirate radio station.

The 136-foot vessel anchored in international waters three miles southwest of the Cape May inlet late Wednesday afternoon.

Paul Hemmerle, 40, the ship’s skipper, said in an interview aboard the vessel that the ship left Cape Canaveral, FL, on Friday and secretly anchored at a commercial dock here Monday.

Dr. McIntire’s pirate station, “Radio Free America” is expected to begin broadcasting today.

The elated minister, dressed in a navy blue suit and white shoes, headed a welcoming delegation that included dozens of his followers. The group stood on the porch of the Christian Admiral Hotel, owned by Mr. McIntire, and shouted greetings as the ship passed the hotel at 4:45 pm.

The ship’s arrival marked the beginning of a new battle for the minister, who was forced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to shut down his radio station WXUR in Media, PA, on July 5. The FCC charged the station violated Fairness Doctrine.

The pirate station presents a puzzle to the FCC, which never before has been confronted with a floating radio station beaming beyond territorial limits toward the United States.

“Any action the agency takes depends on the facts and we don’t have any,” FCC attorney Daniel Ohlbaum said Wednesday.

Mr. McIntire said the new station will allow him, “to really speak my mind.”

“No more worries about offending anyone; no more worries about the FCC and no more worries about the Fairness Doctrine,” the minister said.

Mr. McIntire said his station would welcome broadcasts from people with political views different from his own.

“We’ll ask Jane Fonda to send us some tapes,” he said. Though Mr. McIntire said the transportation of his pirate station was done, “sub rosa,” the ship’s position was being tracked by the FCC through engineer Richard Smith.

Smith, operating from a station in Philadelphia, said the ship was in the Cape May area early Wednesday. Mr. McIntire initially was secretive about the station’s operation, but later allowed a reporter aboard the ship for closer observation.

The wooden vessel is equipped with 10,000-watt transmitting equipment which, according to Hemmerle, gives the new station more broadcasting power than WXUR.

The vessel bears the name, Oceanic, but Mr. McIntire said the name probably will be changed to the same as the radio station.

The ship is basically functional. It has one small transmitting room, a small kitchen and dining area. There also is a small motor dinghy aboard to be used to bring in supplies.

The ship’s crew includes Hemmerle, his wife and three others.

“The crew knows how to do a little bit of everything,” Hemmerle said.

Hemmerle said the station will broadcast 24 hours a day and that the bulk of the broadcasts will be done by tape. “Mr. McIntire will make an occasional live broadcast,” he said. “I hope we won’t have to stay out here too long,” said the skipper, “but we’ll stay as long as we have to.”

Hemmerle said there are enough supplies aboard the vessel to, “stay out for a month.”

“I’ve always admired Dr. McIntire and I’ve taken on this job for principles,” said Hemmerle, who added that he met the minister in Cape Canaveral two years ago.

“I believe in what he’s doing,” Hemmerle continued. “He’s the admiral and we’re his navy.”

Dr. McIntire’s Ship Comes In
Philadelphia Daily News August 30, 1973
by Tom Fox

CAPE MAY, NJ – The first time I met Dr. Carl McIntire he was leading a march on the waterfront in Port Richmond. He said he was going to kidnap a Russian tanker moored on the Delaware. This was in 1968, in the final days of Lyndon Johnson. The Red Chinese had captured the Pueblo and held the crew prisoners. American patriots boiled, but nobody got as steamed up as Carl McIntire.

He gave the Red Chinese an ultimatum: Release the crew of the Pueblo – at once – or I will kidnap the Russian tanker.

The deadline passed with no word for Peking and Dr. Carl McIntire struck.

Straight-faced, he led a couple hundred followers to the docks. “We’re going to take the Red ship,” he said. “We’ll keep their boys prisoners until they return ours.”

It was a dramatic moment, a dramatic attempt to dramatize the news, but everything fell apart when Dr. McIntire and his followers hit the waterfront. The Russian tanker had just sailed.

THE NEXT DAY I wrote: “When Dr. McIntire and the marchers arrived at the dock they discovered that the Reds had just sailed in the sunset.”

This amused Dr. McIntire. He summoned Jack Hoffman, one of his publicity men on leave from Disneyland. “Jack,” he said, “this boy Fox has caught me egg on my face. But I like the way he writes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could save him?”

Dr. McIntire is working the waterfront again, but this time it’s the high seas and this time the stakes are much higher. This time he’s taking on the US government and he could end up in the cage.

The US government has stripped Dr. McIntire of one of his strongest assets – his radio station, WXUR of Media. The FCC claimed Dr. McIntire, a right wing preacher, had violated the fairness doctrine in his programming and recommended the revocation of the WXUR license. Last May the US Supreme Court upheld the FCC.

Now Dr. McIntire is striking back – on the high seas. He says he’s going to preach the Word of God from a pirate radio ship beyond the three-mile limit.

Dr. McIntire has been talking about a pirate radio ship for about three months now and a lot of people figured he was kidding. But the preacher’s ship came in yesterday. It’s an old WW II minesweeper and it’s anchored off the South Jersey shore and if the radio crew, which worked throughout the night rigging the antenna, can get the bugs out of the system, Dr. McIntire could be back on the air by nightfall.

SOME OF THE FOLLOWERS who were with Dr. McIntire on the docks of Port Richmond five years ago were with him here yesterday when the ship was first spotted off Cape May.

“HERE SHE COMES, FOLKS,” Dr. McIntire said over a bullhorn. “It’s 4:46 pm and there she is. Oh, I’m so overcome with emotion. Praise the Lord.”

“Praise the Lord,” his followers shouted.

Dr. Carl McIntire, a preacher’s son from Durant, OK, at 67 is a throwback to the old America that vanished when the bureaucrats took over everybody’s lives. He must be what the historians call a rugged individualist. There’s a little of William Randolph Hearst in him, a little of Billy Sunday, a little Billy Rose and a whole lot of the daring crapshooter who defined the odds and the sharks and bet it all on that one big roll.

He’s defying the bureaucracy of government as no one has before. Nobody knows how much power output his pirate radio ship will have, but if the wattage is strong enough his broadcasts could throw local radio frequencies into an electronic hysteria and he could go to jail. But he doesn’t seem to care.

“I’M JUST FIGHTING for my freedom,” he said from a rocking chair on the front porch of the Christian Admiral hotel here last night. “I don’t want to damage the other stations. I’m fighting for their freedom, too. The bureaucrats should have no power over radio and TV stations. The licensing should be non-political. Free speech was guaranteed by our forefathers, but the politicians deprive us of another freedom every day.

“Christ has said, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,’ but I’m having trouble preaching the Word right here in America. My freedom has been denied by a repressive government. So I’m taking to the high seas to preach the Word of the Lord.

“The real irony of it is my calling – I am a preacher, a man of God, but the politicians have made me the villain.”

Around 8 o’clock the preacher left the porch for a prayer service in the hotel social hall, once the gymnasium of Shelton College, a rigidly fundamentalist church school that was denied accreditation by New Jersey educational authorities. It has since relocated in Florida.

Dr. McIntire, wearing a light blue suit, white patent leather loafers and a sea-going skipper’s cap, walked in during the opening hymn – “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” The faithful in the seats, numbering about 100, including five blacks, applauded.

Later, when Dr. McIntire rose to preach, he asked for a special hymn in honor of the ship anchored out on the bay. “Do we have ‘Sailing, Sailing, over the Bounding Main’ in the hymnbook?” The faithful giggled.

Then Dr. McIntire prayed for his pirate radio ship. He recited portions of the 107th Psalm. He said it was the prayer of the British Navy.

“He read: ‘They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.’”

Then the radio preacher walked out onto the porch of the old hotel once more. He took one more look through the big telescope at the pirate radio ship anchored three miles out in the dark, cool waters. “Protect our little ship, oh Lord,” he said. “Rise up friends for her. Help us speak to a country that needs to hear the Word of the Lord.”

Then he went up to his suite and rested for today – his first day of broadcasting from beyond the three mile limit.

Ship in Place: McIntire Set to Go On the Air
Camden, NJ, Courier-Post, August 30, 1973

CAPE MAY – The Rev. Carl McIntire of Collingswood was scheduled to dedicate his pirate radio ship today to Louis Cassels, a religious columnist with whom he has feuded for the past 20 years.

McIntire also was to tape his first broadcast on board the former World War II minesweeper which dropped anchor a little more than three miles off shore here yesterday. In a news conference today, the fundamentalist preacher would not disclose the ship’s AM broadcast frequency, its ownership, its cost or what flag it will fly, other than to say that it will be, “a Christian flag.” He said the 140-foot vessel is armed, “to protect it against Russian ships believed to be in the area.”

Broadcasts from the ship, “will be thoroughly anti-communist,” he said.

“The decision to dedicate the ship to Cassels was made after the columnist sent a $10 contribution to the venture,” McIntire said.

Since WXUR, his gospel station in Media, PA, was closed July 4, by the Federal Communications Commission for violating the doctrine of equal time for opposite viewpoints, McIntire has charged the federal government might try to block broadcasting from the ship even though it would operate legally beyond the three-mile territorial limit.

Horace Webb, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office in Washington, said he knew of no such planned action.

“We are ready for the battle now for the freedom of speech – to get the freedom of religion back to us,” McIntire said after the “refugee ship” arrived from a six-day voyage from Cape Canaveral, FL.

Viet War Backer

“There’s nothing wrong with Americans to talk like they think. I am frustrated because I can’t carry out my duty like a free man,” said McIntire, a hard lined backer of a military victory during the Vietnam War.

His former gospel station was shut down after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a suit by the National Council of Churches and 18 other ecumenical groups which charged WXUR violated the FCC “fairness” doctrine.

The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case. An associate of McIntire’s said a special congressional bill is scheduled to be introduced before September 7 to force the FCC to allow the station to resume broadcasting.

Ship Set to Start Broadcasts
Philadelphia Bulletin, August 30, 1973

CAPE MAY, NJ – A World War II minesweeper, equipped to broadcast fundamentalist messages of the Rev. Carl McIntire, dropped anchor 3½ miles off shore here yesterday afternoon.

“All that remains as far as transmitting is concerned is the warm up or check out,” Dr. McIntire said here. “As soon as the engineers can get it on the air, we’re going to broadcast.”

The “pirate” station will replace radio station WXUR, Dr. McIntire said. The station in Media, PA, was ordered to cease broadcasting by the Federal Communications Commission last month.

Revoked License

The FCC revoked the station’s license for violation of the “fairness doctrine.” The US Supreme Court refused to hear Dr. McIntire’s appeal of the ruling.

Before dropping anchor, the ship came with a half-mile of Dr. McIntire’s Christian Admiral hotel here and tipped the American flag atop its mast in salute to the crowd singing, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” outside the hotel.

Dr. McIntire has named the 140-foot long, 40-berth ship, “Radio Free America.”

AM Frequency

He said the station will broadcast 24 hours daily on an AM frequency, which he refused to disclose. “The frequency was not one used by another station,” he added.

The preacher also refused to give the radius of the station’s reception but did say it would be wider than WXUR’s reception area.

“The WXUR programs were very mild, and they were censored,” he said.

“Out there, we’ll have all the freedom in the world to talk like any real gospel preacher wants to talk, about the sin and the wickedness and about the government and preach the message of God, the message of salvation.”

Dr. McIntire, pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church, Collingswood, NJ, said, “We are asking that WXUR, which was the first station ever to be killed because of speech problems, be put back on by the government.

“We will stay out there until we get some action. We’re asking that the FCC be fully investigated by the Congress.

“We’re asking that the so-called fairness doctrine be completely abandoned and that all radios in the country and TVs be given the same standing as newspapers, permanent licenses of the freedom of the First Amendment.”

"Get Back Rights"

Dr. McIntire said the purpose of the “pirate” station is “to get back the First Amendment.”

He said the ship will be declared today, “like a church” and he’ll record the first broadcast for the station.

Last night the ship, lit by floodlights could be seen from shore.

FCC Moves to Tune Out McIntire
Philadelphia Daily News, September 1, 1973
By Scott Heimer

The Rev. Dr. Carl McIntire said last night that he would, “fight to the limit” any court action the government might take against him for broadcasting from his floating pirate radio station. A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lawyer yesterday said that if McIntire broadcast illegally from his station, a converted Navy minesweeper 3½ miles off the New Jersey coast at Cape May, the government would seek a court injunction.

“THESE MEN are getting desperate in their attempts to suppress free speech,” the fiery Fundamentalist preacher said. “We’ll fight them to the limit.”

He said he expected broadcasts to begin today or tomorrow, as soon as his 10,000-watt transmitter is made ready.

Daniel Ohlbaum, deputy general counsel for the FCC in Washington, said if Dr. McIntire’s ship, Radio Free America, is a US vessel it must have a license to operate any radio equipment – no matter where it anchors. “Dr. McIntire’s 150-foot ship is anchored in international waters,” but Ohlbaum said: “A United States ship is part of United States territory and the laws of the United States apply to it.”

“WELL, THAT’S HIS interpretation,” Dr. McIntire retorted. He would not, however, say whether his ship was a US vessel.

“When we go on the air then they’ll see our flag and know,” he said, adding that if he had to fight the government in court, “we’ll question the constitutionality of their very licensing system. We’ll take them on with the help of God and the help of the American people.”

McIntire Foiled Trying to Board Ship
Philadelphia Bulletin, August 31, 1973
by Laura Murray of the Bulletin staff

CAPE MAY, NJ – The 21 year old captain of the charter fishing boat yesterday thwarted the Rev. Dr. Carl McIntire’s plans to tape the maiden radio broadcast from the Fundamentalist preacher’s converted mine sweeper. The captain, Ronald Laskey, had been hired to ferry Dr. McIntire and a party of nearly 100 followers and reporters to the ship “Radio Free America,” which was anchored 3½ miles off shore in international waters, beyond the reach of the Federal Communications Commission, which closed down Dr. McIntire’s land based radio station WXUR in Media, PA, last month.

Cites Law

Just as Dr. McIntire prepared to lead a boarding party onto the ship, Laskey said that Maritime law forbids him from letting passengers leave one ship and board another in international waters without customs papers.

Laskey circle Dr. McIntire’s boat several times for the benefit of news photographers, then turned his craft, the Wild Goose, around and headed back to the wharf here.

Dr. McIntire, stunned announced he would swim to the vessel. He is a former lifeguard. He was removing his white jacket when the charter boat turned around.

Passengers turned on the young captain asking, “What did you think we came out here for – to turn around and come back?”

In the boat’s bow stood the carved wooden pulpit Dr. McIntire said he has used since 1936, “when I used to preach in a tent.” He planned to use it for his inaugural broadcast aboard the floating radio station.

Dr. McIntire later taped the broadcast from his Christian Admiral Bible Conference and Freedom Center, a converted Victorian-era hotel here. It will eventually be aired from the ship.

Unanswered Questions

Dr. McIntire, an avid anti-communist and proponent of a military victory in Vietnam, now sounds rather liberal.

When he lost his radio license, (he was judged in violation of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine) he began to speak of “repression” by the US government and for “freedom of the press.”

The ship, which arrived from Cape Canaveral Wednesday afternoon, is shrouded in secrecy. Unanswered questions include its costs, title, ownership and which flag it will fly under. Yesterday the ship flew the international Christian flag.

Dr. McIntire also refused to divulge the frequency the 10,000-watt transmitter will broadcast over, saying he feared that the voice of Radio Free America would be jammed by the government. He said he is equipped to change frequencies if this should happen.

FCC Stands By

The FCC has said it can not make a final decision on the ship’s legal status until the agency knows which flag it will fly under.

At a press conference yesterday, Dr. McIntire said the ship is armed to protect itself against Russian fishing boats he believes are in the area.

But he said he would “never use them” (the arms) against the United States of America.

On the other hand, he said he is “willing to go to jail for my freedom,” and is in this latest venture, “to back my government down.”

Dr. McIntire, 67, is pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Collingswood, NJ.

Sandy Grady…On the Loose
Pirate’s Den for McIntire is Decorous

Philadelphia Bulletin, September 4, 1973

Cape May, NJ – Bright roses grow on the lawn of the Christian Admiral hotel. The lobby has a stain glass dome. Sea breezes mix with gospel hymns sung by white haired ladies.

The moral high tone of the Christian Admiral is set by its front desk sign: “No scanty attire, no hair curlers, no bare feet, no smoking…in the lobby.”

Everybody looks like a retired Sunday School teacher. Not a cask of rum in site. If this is a den of a high-seas pirate, or a rebel’s hideaway, it’s a strange one.

BETWEEN THE red-brick columns, though, a blue sign is flaunted: “Radio Free America.”

And on the Christian Admiral’s old-fashioned porch, elderly folk yesterday squinted at sea through binoculars. Some fiddled with portable radios, getting mostly thunderstorm static.

“We’ll hear him soon,” said one lady, peering at the glassy grey Atlantic across Beach Avenue. “We’ve got faith in the reverend.”

What the faithful looked and listened for were signs of the Rev. Carl McIntire’s pirate ship, the mighty galleon which the reverend vows will take the East Coast with 10,000 kilowatt broadsides.

The McIntire man-o-war may even burst a few kilowatts over Washington, where live the federal heathens who shut down the reverend’s station, WXUR in Media, PA. Now the feds say they’ll hit the reverend with a court injunction the moment “Radio Free America” makes a peep.

“I’M PREPARED to go to jail,” said Dr. McIntire debarking for his pirate argosy yesterday. “I’m prepared to give my life for this cause.”

By the way things were happening yesterday, Julie Nixon may be president and Arlen Specter may run the Supreme Court before McIntire’s navy fires up.

Life was leisurely aboard the pirate packet, anchored 3½ miles east of the Christian Admiral hotel’s front porch. The ship, a battered, rusty 140-foot minesweeper named the Columbus before it reformed looked like a Hollywood set for the Cain Mutiny. In the forward hold, two technicians fidgeted with the second-hand RCA transmitter that Dr. McIntire bought for $6000. They were up to their ears in dials and wires, because McIntire insisted his nautical station be tuned to 69.2 kilocycles on AM, near his old WXUR signal.

PAUL HEMMERLE, who skippered the pirate ship from Florida, didn’t seem perturbed. Hemmerle had his family aboard, with a covey of wild canaries for company.

As for Dr. McIntire, he stayed busy fishing off the foredeck, when he wasn’t making speeches for anybody who boarded with a tape recorder. Earlier he’d rigged a pulpit on deck and dedicated his ship with Psalm 107 verse 23 (“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters…”)

The small reverend also studied the horizon for enemies. The US Coast Guard? The Federal Communications Commission in gunboats? “No,” said the reverend darkly. He was on the lookout for Russian trawlers.

Well, the reverend may seem a bit hooked on the communist conspiracy – he blasted Nixon, remember for mixing with the atheists in Peking – but yesterday he was spouting some fresh ideas about broadcasting.

“We’ll have confrontations,” said the reverend of his private programs. “We’ll invite Sen. George McGovern. We’ll invite Dean Burch (head of the FCC). We’ll invite anybody who will come out.”

THAT SOUNDS wildly entertaining. By the time the reverend gets some of those liberals onto a motorboat and three miles at sea, they’ll be (a) seasick, or (b) mad enough to make a rousing dialog.

Never mind hindsight – if McIntire had welcomed other political viewpoints to spice his right-wing fanaticism, WXUR might still be on the air.

Now I’m like those ladies rocking on the porch of McIntire’s seaside hotel. I hope the Ancient Mariner gets his radio operating. He may be a political caveman, but McIntire is resourceful, dauntless and entertaining – Billy Sunday in an admiral’s cap.

At dusk the reverend’s ship was silent but he was beaming. He’d hooked himself a bucket of fish.

The reverend was probably ecstatic because he beat those commie trawlers to the catch.

McIntire Dedicating Radio Ship, Says He would Die for the Cause
New York Times, September 4, 1973.

CAPE MAY, Step. 3 (UPI) – “I am prepared to give my life for this cause,” Dr. Carl McIntire, a fundamentalist preacher, said today as he dedicated an offshore radio ship and promised to provide “vigorous, controversial programs.”

The Collingswood minister said the ship would fly the American flag and would broadcast at 692 kilocycles, virtually the same wavelength as the Federal Communications Commission ordered closed last month.

Mr. McIntire said government harassment, as he put it, would not prevent him from broadcasting his program of religious shows.

"Rights on the Seas"

“We’ve got First Amendment rights on the seas,” he said. “We thank God for the freedom we have on the Atlantic.”

The radio ship, renamed Radio Free America, is a 140-foot craft with a 10,000-watt transmitter in the forward section.

The minister said the ship would broadcast a wide range of programs and would seek “all the confrontations we possibly can.”

He said Dean Burch, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and Senator George S. McGovern, Democrat of South Dakota, would be invited to be guests on the station. Mr. McIntire said the station would be used as a test case concerning the FCC’s licensing practice.

“We’ll challenge the entire licensing system,” he said. “They [the FCC] are getting into rule-making concerning speech. We’ve got a clear case of free speech.

“I am prepared to go to jail. I am prepared to give my life for this cause.”

Mr. McIntire’s radio station in Media, PA, was ordered shut down by the FCC for allegedly refusing to give equal time to opposing views.

McIntire’s Station Delays Start of Broadcasting
Philadelphia Bulletin, September 4, 1973

Cape May, NJ – Yesterday was dedication day for the Rev. Carl McIntire’s radio ship, but for the fourth day in a row, the maiden broadcast from the fundamentalist preacher’s converted minesweeper failed to get on the air. Mr. McIntire did not speculate on how soon he’d be broadcasting.

Mr. McIntire again gave “technical difficulties” as the reason for the delay in broadcasting from “Radio Free America,” which arrived off the coast here last Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, FL. He would not elaborate on the “technical difficulties.”

Before a group of news people boarded a small craft departing from Utsch’s Marina for the ship, Mr. McIntire announced for the first time the frequency, 69.2 megacycles from which the station would broadcast. He also said, the ship would fly a US flag.

Could Shift Frequency

He had earlier declined to reveal the frequency because of reports he said he’d received from Washington that the federal government might jam his broadcasts. He said he is still prepared for that possibility.

“We could shift to 116.0 very easily if we run into any form of interference,” he said.

He mentioned two other possible frequencies he could use if there was a need to change.

FCC Action Uncertain

In explaining his delayed decision to fly the US flag Mr. McIntire said, “We decided that if we are going to have a battle with the government, we’d rather have it under a US flag.”

His reference was obviously a reaction to last week’s announcement from the FCC that it would take steps to prevent the broadcasts when it learned what flag the ship would be flying.

The dedication ceremony was hampered by a transportation problem when it was learned that newsmen and Mr. McIntire’s followers would have to be ferried to and from the ship in groups of not more than six.

Seeks WXUR Return

Mr. McIntire told reporters that the ship’s 10,000-watt transmitter, which he says will reach radio listeners from New York to Washington, DC, will be used only temporarily until the governor returns his censored WXUR radio station to the air waves.

The FCC closed down the Media, PA, station in July when it revoked its license for what it called unfair broadcasting. Mr. McIntire is now involved in federal court action to regain his license.

“If the FCC gives WXUR its license back,” Mr. McIntire said, “our ship is so set up that we can move it. We can do some work in the Caribbean with Castro’s operation.”

He also suggested the ship could be used in the Pacific to beam radio broadcasts to Red China.

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