For people of Caribbean descent living in New York, pirate radio stations can be a crucial link to the music, culture, and news of home. The stations, which operate illegally, without license from the FCC, run the gamut from shoestring, no-budget passion projects to more fully-formed business operations, and generally cater to Caribbean-heavy neighborhoods like Flatbush.

This week, the FCC and NYPD shut down The Fire Station, a popular pirate radio outlet specializing in, as the New York Times sorta tone-deafly puts it, “dance hall and soca Caribbean music.” DJ Fresh Kid and Solomon Malka, two of the station’s operators, were charged with unauthorized radio transmission.

“The message that we’re trying to bring across is we are people who have great ideas, who are independent, and there’s a lot more to offer than the big-time radio stations have to offer,” said the proprietor of another station, explaining how pirate radio is about more than just music for its listeners. “There are things going on in the community we wish to share in the world,” he said. “It’s not just local vibe. It’s local vibe community radio.”

(Photo: Sean Davis/Flickr)