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Entrepreneurs, Entertainers, & Outlaws

On the Media replayed a great radio documentary this weekend on the Mexican border blaster radio stations.

Also known as X stations, because their call letters began with X, they skirted American law from the 1930s to the 1960s by broadcasting from south of the Mexican border, often at wattages exceeding ten times the legal U.S. federal limit of 50,000 watts. There are stories of birds being electrocuted while flying too close to the towers and of sailors in the South Pacific tuning in.

Infamous for selling goat-gonad implants to erectilely challenged men and other types of snake oil, the border blasters also launched many a bluegrass and country music legend. It's said that Johnny Cash first heard his future wife's act for the first time on an X station. We also have border blasters to thank for Wolfman Jack.

What's best about the border blaster story, though, is the living reminder it presents of how feeble laws are in the face of media. Just as businessmen back then used the Mexican government's willingness to look the other way to their radio broadcasting advantage, they now use offshore laws to launch gambling and porn Web sites.

There will always be someone who'll figure out some way to make money, and technology will always be several steps ahead of the law.

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