Pirate Radio DJs Are Commandeering Brooklyn Airwaves

RADIO

If you’ve ever tuned to one of your go-to New York radio stations (Hot 97 or WFMU, for example) and been surprised to hear a staticky stream of Caribbean music or an unknown shock jock, you’re not alone. Pirate radio streaming has increasingly hijacked several FM channels in Brooklyn.

The illegally broadcasting radio shows are popping up throughout the borough, tracked by a Sunset Park resident under the Twitter handle @BkPirateWatch. Borough residents who find that their radio airwaves have been commandeered tweet their location at the account. One offender, the Haitian Creole station Radyo Independans, regularly occupies the dial at 90.9 FM.

Many of the stations sound like legit, FCC-cleared ones, even attracting advertisers. A recent New York Post report investigated the uptick in pirate radio stations, and credited the rise to powerful equipment that’s easily hidden from the police:

All a pirate needs are an FM radio transmitter, an antenna, a programming source — usually a computer — and cables. Pirates can evade the FCC by moving the transmitter from one building to another.