live broadcast sound collage

Allen Maxwell is a shortwave pirate radio artist. Or more accurately a pirate shortwave radio artist, but calling him that makes him sound as if he is an actual pirate.  He called his station KIPM, standing for Illuminati Prima Materia. He would broadcast without a license in what is called by amateur radio enthusiasts “the pirate’s watering hole,”  a cluster of frequencies just below the 40-meter amateur radio band (7000 kHz) that is kept clear for dedicated service bands. This frequency range is where most North American shortwave pirate radio stations broadcast, as it is an established area for illegal broadcasts and where one who wanted to hear such things would listen.

Not a lot is known of Allen Maxwell.  Allen Maxwell is not his real name.  Allen Maxwell is the name of a character from the first episode of The Outer Limits, a source of the audio used in each show’s introduction and an obvious thematic inspiration for Maxwell.  It is unclear when he started broadcasting or when he stopped.  The “golden age” of KIPM, as gleaned from the instances of mentions of the show on radio message boards and ham radio publications, seems to be the early to mid aughts.  Though for all we know, Allen could be broadcasting right now.  

Thirty five of Maxwell’s radio shows are available at the Internet Archive, filed under KIPM.  You are encouraged to check them out.  The audio you will hear from this program only illuminates the surface of a very deep text.  Maxwell’s works are radio plays, but radio plays of a very strange kind.  They blur the line between reality and fiction, with Maxwell himself as the ever-present protagonist.  In “Electromagnetic Madness” he finds means to communicate with an extra-dimensional, nitrogen-based entity via interplanetary electromagnetic wave propagation.  In  “The H.A.A.R.P.  show he casts himself as a research assistant on the HAARP project who uses his position to unleash the power of the ionosphere to melt the polar ice caps.  In “Pirate Jesus” he tells the tale of going to a bar on Halloween and meeting a woman dressed as Jesus who insists she is the return of the Son of God, fake beard notwithstanding.

His most infamous work is Arecibo Alpha 1, which presents as an overheard radio transmission between US Central Command and the radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico (RIP).  It seems the aliens have replied to the messages the telescope was sending to deep space and the facility needs instructions on how to respond.  On broadcast, HAM operators and DXers were so alarmed that they called Art Bell in droves, claiming to have evidence of the existence of aliens. Art dropped his guest to broadcast the feed.

Though the work gives many nods to the formal structures of radio drama, the content is completely outside of any category or academy.  Though each show has a formal introduction, a station ID, and an address to contact for QSL (proof of contact) cards, the work can only be classified as ‘experimental’.  Long sections of sound collage, punctuated by dramatic stingers from 50s TV shows, follow torch songs and segway into New Age music which in turn acts as a bed for Allen’s stories and rants.  The tales serve as a backdrop upon which the Allen Maxwell of the radio play acts as a fictional surrogate of Allen Maxwell the mystery man (who has adopted the name of a fictional character that also 
happens to be a radio operator!) in order to express existential dread and deep

This edition of Special Collections features selections from the work of Allen Maxwell, operator of shortwave pirate radio station KIPM. If you would like to delve deeper, visit and search for KIPM.


Broadcast date: May 25th 2021
KCHUNG Los Angeles 1630AM

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS is a broadcast project by Sam Rowell.
Each edition is mixed live on the air.