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Pirate radio still a cat and mouse game between FCC, underground broadcasters

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As the cost of broadcasting goes down, many immigrant neighborhoods are turning to pirate radio to reclaim the airwaves and give voice to their communities. The New York Times reports that setting up a new station can cost less than $500, prompting local DJs and music fans to hijack the broadcast frequency of licensed stations in areas with limited free airwaves, such as New York City. While many pirate broadcasts remain amateur, with irregular scheduling and a constantly changing frequency, others mimic their licensed competitors with paid advertisers and a regular schedule. Some stations, like the recently busted Fire Station in NYC, have been operating for over a decade and gained a dedicated following by providing quality programming. The Federal Communications Commission has stiff sanctions for pirate broadcasters, so while seizing the airwaves can be tempting, the cost of getting caught can be devastating.