David Goren

Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map
Pronouns: he / him
Artistic Discipline: Interdisciplinary
Category: Brooklyn Arts Fund
Grant Year: 2024
Location: Flatbush

Brooklyn Pirate Radio Sound Map (BPRSM) Version-3.0 updates an online repository of Brooklyn’s multifaceted unlicensed radio culture, a homegrown phenomenon at once aesthetically vibrant, culturally empowering, and undeniably illegal. Stations are often called pirates for transmitting on frequencies occupied by licensed broadcasters. From secret studios, announcers address listeners in West Indian-accented English and Haitian Kreyol bringing music, news, immigration information and religion to diverse communities. Using a tuning interface that currently plays 300 sound clips, the BPRSM showcases the stations’ cultural resonance and sonic diversity, preserving their content for exploration and future access by the community. Over a span of 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 stations with harsher penalties: high fines, equipment confiscation and even arrest to those broadcasting illegally to immigrant communities.