Pratt Radio is a student-run Internet radio station based in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Broadcasting live from Chapel Hall on the Pratt Institute's campus, the station features over 40 shows and hosts music-related events for both students and neighborhood residents on a regular basis, from Battle of the Bands contests to Open Mic Night at the nearby Five Spot soul food restaurant on Myrtle Avenue.
Started in 1988, the station was formerly a low power AM broadcast that extended only to the campus and nearby neighborhood, recorded on low tech equipment with low-quality sound results. The station was a grass-roots kind of place—shows were organized entirely by their hosts, and at times one person would be doing ten different things within the studio, which made the station feel even more like a home rather than a formal organization. After a burglary took place in the late ’80s, the ’70s era equipment was replaced with state of the art turntables, high quality CD changers, cart machines for promos, and a massive mixing board, which gave the station new life and a second chance at a new FM spot—the "bottom of the dial" 87.5 FM. Lots of money and a whole year later and the station went live with the help of Dan Fries, the Student Activity director of the time, broadcasting on a wavelength that was now transmitted all over New York City.
DJ's lined up for shows and the station now had itself a 24/7 schedule, complete with unique, professional quality shows. Things looked great as the decade changed, and it looked as though the Fall of 1990 had great things in store for Pratt Radio—but no one could have predicted what came next.
As it turns out, Dan Fries was a bit of a swashbuckling type and had never gotten formal permission for Pratt Radio to broadcast on that waveband. After receiving a threat from the FCC stating that a fine of $100,000 would be incurred unless the pirate station ceased and desisted immediate broadcasting, Dan was forced to go into the station and pull the plug.
Dan was expelled immediately, and on a dime the station died. Small attempts were made to revive Pratt Radio through various pirate techniques, namely running a cable that emitted a low-power signal all across campus—down hallways, up elevator shafts, and so on—but in the end nothing succeeded.
It wasn't until the mid 2000's that Pratt Radio finally rose from the dead, revived by the help of new management team who were just as dedicated to the idea of rockin' college radio as the original crew was. They started from scratch, working in small scale on now outdated equipment, but still they remained steadfast despite all odds. Slowly but surely the station came to life, and one day the idea of internet radio suddenly came to the table. Cheap, fast, and remarkably perfect for the needs of Pratt Radio, within months WPIR was launched. After much finagling and weeks of all-nighters, new equipment was secured and the station now faced an even larger audience—the entire planet.
Now, the station broadcasts 24/7 via Radio.pratt.edu with entirely student-run programming, broadcasting, and promotions. With eleven people running WPIR and striving to work just as hard as our predecessors, we've vowed to make sure that Pratt is never without music, news, and a regular broadcast ever again.