Out of the box! Big party all day for DeKalb Market’s radio entrepreneurs

Out of the box! Big party all day for DeKalb Market’s radio entrepreneurs
Photo by Tom Callan

Old school meets new media at BBox Radio — a fledgling Internet broadcaster that creates its shows right out there in the open air of the DeKalb Market in Downtown.

The operators say that their publically accessible 1970s-style studio is a perfect match for their ambition to reach a global audience.

“We see it as an opportunity where radio interacts with its listeners,” said co-founder Dan Meredith, 34, of Williamsburg. “We like that ability.”

The station was founded by Meredith and his partner Donna Zimmerman after winning a competition through Urban Space, the developer behind DeKalb Market.

With so many options competing with online consumers ears, the station’s open style is its selling point.

“There is so much stuff out there that it seems like it’s not worth working on a new online media station,” said Miguel Macias, assistant professor and director of radio at Brooklyn College, who oversees the campus radio station, which is also online-only. “But if you have a station where people can see you, they can see what you’re all about. I think it gives them a little bit of an edge.”

Meredith and Zimmerman plan to expand into an Internet phenomenon that is self-sustained by advertising revenue through local businesses.

“We can market to mom and pop stores,” said Meredith. “We want this to be an opportunity for small vendors to have a voice.”

In the age of smartphones and near ubiquitous wireless Internet, creating a radio station no longer requires millions of dollars to build an FM transmitter or get licenses through the Federal Communications Commission.

You do, however, need a solid Internet connection — something that the station’s humble home in the market on Flatbush Avenue Extension at Willoughby Street does not have.

With 22 DJs, but no broadcast capabilities, the station throws a weekly karaoke jam on Fridays and is the musical accompaniment for the market’s handful of customers and passersby cutting through the square to grab the Q train. DJs record their sets and upload them to the station’s website.

But the crew was unwittingly hamstrung by the area’s lack of high-speed Internet.

“This is technically a construction zone, so we can’t get a fast enough connection through Time Warner,” said Meredith.

The station so far has nearly half of its $15,000 goal through KickStarter, which it plans to use to upgrade equipment and install commercial-grade broadband Internet so it can stream live online.

BBox Radio is holding a fundraising party with live bands at DeKalb Market (322 Flatbush Ave. Ext. between Willoughby and Fleet streets in Downtown, no phone), Oct 17 from 3-11 pm. For info, visit bboxradio.com/events.

Dan Meredith and Donna Zimmerman of Bbox Radio are running their station out of a shipping container in DeKalb Market.
Photo by Tom Callan