David Goren

Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map
Artistic Discipline: Interdisciplinary
Category: Brooklyn Arts Fund
Grant Year: 2022
Location: Flatbush

Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map (BPRSM) Version-3.0 updates a multimedia repository of Brooklyn’s multifaceted unlicensed underground radio culture, a homegrown phenomenon at once aesthetically vibrant, culturally empowering, and undeniably illegal. Stations operate from secret studios with their DJs speaking to listeners in Kreyol, West Indian-accented English, and Hebrew bringing music, news, immigration information and religion to diverse communities. Using a tuning interface that accesses and filters over 350 sound clips, the BPRSM showcases the stations’ cultural resonance and sonic diversity, preserving their content for exploration and future access by the community and others. Over fifty years, illegal radio in Brooklyn has evolved from a few stations broadcasting late at night as a taboo-busting prank, to a sprawling grassroots community radio ecosystem with dozens on the air daily. High costs bar potential station operators from easily accessing the legal airwaves. Somewhat protected by a kind of safety in numbers and lax enforcement, recent legislation threatens the pirates with harsher penalties: high fines, equipment confiscation and even arrest to those broadcasting illegally to immigrant communities. BPRSM 3.0 will incorporate two new historic map layers spotlighting two previous eras in Brooklyn pirate radio: 1970-1990 and 1990-2000.