Yarrr on the air! Jewish pirate radio station ruining WQXR broadcast in Kensington, WT • Brooklyn Paper

Yarrr on the air! Jewish pirate radio station ruining WQXR broadcast in Kensington, WT

Radio gaga: Kensington man Patrick Russell is being driven mad by a pirate radio station that is interrupting his favorite classical station with static.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

Shiva me timbers!

A pirate radio station offering Talmudic wisdom and spouting Jewish fables has for weeks been interfering with 105.9 WQXR’s public broadcast in Kensington, Windsor Terrace, and parts of Park Slope, and local fans of New York’s only classical radio station say they’re fed up.

“It’s public radio, I contribute to it, and I can’t listen to it because this guy’s there,” said Courtelyou Road resident Patrick Russell. “It’s the only classical station in the city, and it’s a crime!”

Russell began noticing an irritating crackle when he tuned into New York Public Radio’s classical station a few weeks ago, but assumed it was merely someone gabbing away nearby on a walkie-talkie, he said.

It wasn’t until the problem persisted on a near constant basis that he tuned into 105.7 and realized it was actually a Jewish talk-radio station that was messing with his Mozart.

“It just kept up, so I started fooling around, and I changed it to 105.7 and — boom — there comes this guy giving a lecture in English about the Torah,” he said.

The bandwidth buccaneer doesn’t keep regular hours, but often goes on marathon sermon sprees that only break for the Sabbath, Russell said.

“It’s 24/6!” he said.

New York Public Radio became aware of the illicit transmission at 105.7 after listeners started complaining about the odd interruption a few months back, but only reported it to the Federal Communications Commission three weeks ago after a fan called back saying the underground broadcast was becoming more frequent, according to an employee.

“It was very sporadic and intermittent, and we sat on it until he said, ‘Holy cow, this pirate is up and running full force,’ ” said the network’s chief technology officer Steve Shultis.

Illicit radio stations are not uncommon in Brooklyn and Shultis has filed complaints for six stations interfering with WQXR this year alone, which is fairly average, he said.

But what is unusual about this particular pirate is its religious themes — in his 15 years as chief tech officer, Shultis has only come across one other bootleg Jewish station. The more common Brooklyn pirate blasts Caribbean tunes during the warm seasons, usually in tandem with some block party, he said.

Shultis does expect the Feds to investigate his complaint eventually, but not anytime soon — investigations usually take between four and six months to kick into gear, and recent budget cuts haven’t made anything easier for the government’s radio regulators, he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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