Pirate radio station shut down by Linden police
An illegal pirate radio station allegedly operating out of a home in Linden has been shut down by city police.
Authorities pulled the plug on the station, after being contacted by Townsquare Media's NJ 101.5 FM radio station on Monday. Officials from the station filed a complaint indicating that another station, broadcasting at 101.3 FM, was operating illegally. Their transmission was "making listening virtually impossible in Linden, New Jersey and the surrounding area," Brand Manager Eric Johnson wrote in a letter to Linden Police Chief James Schulhafer.
"The pirate is causing interference on our frequency from Colonia NJ north to Elizabeth, and from east to west from Cartaret to Westfield," Johnson told the police chief.
According to Johnson, interference from the pirate station led to numerous complaints from listeners of NJ 101.5 who were having trouble tuning in to hear the news, weather, traffic and current topics being discussed. The station conducted an initial investigation of it's own and discovered that the transmission was likely coming from a home located at 406 East Baltimore Ave. in Linden. Station officials sent pictures of the home, with what appeared to be a very strong antenna on the roof. The pirate was broadcasting Haitian talk and music.
New Jersey State law makes it illegal for anyone to operate a radio station without a license from the Federal Communications Commission. The fourth-degree crime can carry a fine of up to $10,000 as well as up to 18 months in prison. The law also makes it a separate offense for an unlicensed broadcaster to interfere with a legally-licensed station's transmissions.
Linden police have contacted the FCC as well as municipal code enforcement officials, who found the home violated zoning ordinances, according to NJ Advance Media.
"Under the ordinances, the unidentified station operators would not be allowed to run a business in a residential area. The antenna, more than 20 feet high, also qualified as an illegal structure on the roof," NJ Advance Media reported, adding that "police notified the homeowner of the complaint and said that summonses and fines would follow if the antenna stayed up and the station continued operating."
Johnson said Wednesday that he is grateful to the listeners who contacted NJ 101.5 to report the poor reception in the areas affected by the pirate station.
"New Jersey 101.5 thanks our listeners for reporting the reception problems in Union County. They helped us pinpoint the pirate broadcasters location," Johnson said. "The Linden Police were very responsive and acted quickly in shutting the illegal broadcaster down. We thank them on behalf of our listeners in Linden, Elizabeth, Carteret, Rahway and Clark who can now once again to listen to us clearly."