No assembly required: Cortelyou Road Radio runs on laptop juice and fiber-optic cable

No assembly required: Cortelyou Road Radio runs on laptop juice and fiber-optic cable
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Ditmas Park residents can now tune in to their own pirate radio station — on their smartphones*.

Cortelyou Road Radio sidesteps the complicated antenna set-up and legal risks inherent in an old-fashioned do-it-yourself broadcasting system by using a little thing called the internet. The hyper-local online radio station was started in December to provide pop, classic rock, and R & B, as well as round-the-clock news to the Victorian neighborhood, its founder said.

“I just thought it would be a wonderful idea to have a radio station dedicated to the neighborhood and connecting everybody,” said the station’s director Robert Clark.

A Ditmas Park local of 20 years and former production director for the CBS radio station Fresh 102.7, Clark decided to set up the station after a daytime stroll through the ’hood. He noticed a grip of new storefronts and gaggles of visitors from overseas and out of state and decided to set up the website as a tool to connect residents old and new.

But creating a package that could appeal to all the denizens of the neighborhood that was by some measures the city’s most racially and ethnically diverse in 2005 was no breeze, according to Clark. He ultimately decided to pass over rap and hard rock, as well as anything “vulgar,” for artists such as Michael Jackson and Coldplay.

“It wasn’t an easy process to think about because everybody has different tastes,” Clark said. “The task was coming up with something most people would enjoy.”

Clark queues up 24 hours of programming on his laptop each morning.

The station also boasts five contributors, all friends from the radio world, who voice ads for local merchants and help put together a 60-second, hourly news segment based on stories from the blog Ditmas Park Corner.

Another CBS alum, Alice Stockton-Rossini, handles copywriting.

The audience is modest so far — in January, the site logged just 650 hits — and Clark has yet to see a profit, but he is confident that his numbers will get better. And he has no plans to take to the actual airwaves anytime soon.

“I believe that internet radio is still in the infant stages,” he said. “It’s not going to do anything but grow.”

*Editor’s note: The station’s streaming service does not work on an editor’s Android phone but does on a reporter’s iPhone.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.