What does Ditmas Park sound like? Neighbor Robert Clark, who has lived in the neighborhood and worked for in radio for over 20 years, is attempting to answer that question with Cortelyou Road Radio.
The station, which Robert recently made available through the TuneIn Radio app and is bringing to iTunes soon, features programming as diverse as our little enclave of Brooklyn–from hip hop and 70s dance tracks to rock covers and R&B, as well as local news. Recently, we got in touch with Robert about his life in the neighborhood, his experience in communications, and what’s up next for Cortelyou Road Radio.
Where were you before Ditmas Park, what brought you here, and how have things changed?
Before I moved to Ditmas Park in 1992, I lived in East New York, Brooklyn. I was 22 years old, finished a two year program at The New York Institute Of Technology, and had already begun working for CBS.
My grandmother was the one who decided to move to Ditmas Park. After my father passed, she wanted everybody under one roof with her. She bought the house, and my mother, my sister, and I all moved in.
Over the years, there have been many changes to the neighborhood. I’ve seen neighbors come and go, I’ve seen houses torn down and rebuilt, I’ve seen many merchants come and go on Cortelyou Road. But, over the last six or seven years I’ve witnessed a kind of reemergence of Brooklyn neighborhoods, and Ditmas Park is leading the pack.
When did you first realize you were interested in radio production, and how did you get started?
I remember always being interested in music. I started just playing records on the family stereo following behind what my uncles were doing and what they were listening to. They broadened my mind as to the various kinds and genres of music.
I had an older cousin who started DJing, so as a natural progression, at very young age I became a DJ following him. Being a DJ was a big thing in the neighborhoods I grew up in, and it was my passion for years. Playing parities, making cassette tapes for friends, I even DJ’d a bunch of weddings.
In 1988, I graduated high school at the top of my class in communications at George Westinghouse High School, and was granted an internship with Westinghouse Communications (now CBS Radio). This internship changed the course of my life, and started my career in radio production.
Why did you decide to start a local station, and how do you think Cortelyou Road Radio reflects this area of Brooklyn?
I had been toying with the idea of a local radio station for months, but recently took steps to bring the idea to life. One thing that plagued the process was the thought, “How can I make this interesting for everyone?”
So, I decided to make the station reflect the diversity of Cortelyou Road. From E 16th St to Coney Island Avenue and beyond, Cortelyou Road just keeps getting better. The people, the merchants… it’s beautiful.
My hope is to give something to the place I called home for the last 20 plus years. I want to entertain with good music, inform with news that affects us, and give an added platform for the merchants serving this community to showcase what they have going on.
Who are some of the friends who have joined you so far at the station, and who do you hope to bring on in the future? What sorts of programming, in general, would you like to do that you haven’t gotten to do yet?
Well, I’ve built very strong relationships in the broadcast industry, and many of those people have been very supportive, and assist in any way they can. For instance, Alice Stocton Rossini, formally of 1010 WINS and now WWOR, is a very close friend and industry great! She has assisted with writing, voicing, and is a phone call away for interviews.
My talent pool is pretty deep, and as Cortelyou Road Radio grows more professionals will be heard on the station. At some point in the future I’d like the Brooklyn Borough President to do a weekly address on the station. That would be nice!
How can neighbors get involved?
Our neighbors can help by giving support and feedback. I’m open to likes and dislikes. Open to an exchange of ideas… Let me know what you are thinking, and if you appreciate what I’m doing.
There are some bumps in this road, but I’ve been pretty successful so far in smoothing them out. There have been some issues technically, but I’ve assembled and IT department, and we are handling things as they come. I’m proud to say, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback.