Arrested were disc jockey Allan Weiner, 34, of Maine, engineer Ivan Rothstein, 25, of Brooklyn and R.J. Smith, a Village Voice reporter. Charges were not filed against Smith.
Weiner and Rothstein face federal charges for conspiring to impede the functions of the Federal Communications Commission and face up to five years in prison and fines of $250,000. They are also charged with a misdemeanor that carries a $500-a-day fine.
Weiner called the raid and arrests "ridiculous" as he was led off a Coast Guard cutter in Brooklyn.
Weiner and Rothstein were released on their own recognizance after appearing before Federal Magistrate John Caden in Brooklyn federal court, who said: "This is a very interesting case, and the issues are complicated."
The broadcasters had set up shop on a 200-foot former refrigeration vessel dubbed "The Sarah," anchored 4 1/2 miles off Jones Beach. The boat was registered in Honduras.
Steele contended that flying the flag of a foreign nation - Honduras - and being anchored in international waters put his station beyond the reach of the FCC. The station - broadcast on 1620 AM and 103.1 FM - was a protest against the "stale" state of New York radio.