The air down there: Duo starts radio station in Bushwick basement

The air down there: Duo starts radio station in Bushwick basement
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

They’re going wireless — in more ways than one!

A pair of performing arts veterans are launching a new internet radio station next week, which they will broadcast from a basement in Bushwick. The duo said they wanted to create a way for artists to send their voices out into the ether without the overheads of traditional radio, so they decided to go digital — and go Brooklyn.

“We were looking for a way to provide a platform to artists without the expensive real estate,” said Tom Tenney.

Tenney and co-founder Rob Prichard will take Radio Free Brooklyn live on May 13 at www.radiofreebrooklyn.com. The duo will cast the commercial-free station from beneath the bike store Velo Brooklyn on Dekalb Avenue, between Central and Wilson avenues, where they have cobbled together a jury-rigged assemblage of record players, microphones, computers, and mixers that mostly came out of Tenney’s closets. The whole operation is running on a shoestring, Tenney said.

“Right now, this is all funded from right out of our pockets,” he said.

Tenney and Prichard each have a long history of producing live shows — Prichard founded the now-defunct Surf Reality’s House of Urban Savages performance space in Manhattan, while Tenney, who is also a New York City theater fixture, is the founder of the annual Re/Mixed Media Festival, which celebrates art made through appropriation and mash-ups.

The station will feature an eclectic lineup of shows, with themes including the war on drugs, storytelling, and Top 40 tracks from the 1960s. One show will feature local burlesque performer Legs Malone reading ancient children’s bedtime stories.

“She has a very sultry, erotic voice, so we thought she would be perfect,” said Tenney, adding that the show will hit the internet waves every morning at 1:30 am, because that is his own bedtime.

Comedian Liam McEneany will host a call-in talk show called “Live from the Hipster Triangle.” He will entertain callers on the topic of what he calls the triangle of Brooklyn gentrification — Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick.

“It is like the Bermuda Triangle, but in this case, your money cannot get out,” said McEneany. “It will basically be about anything people hate about hipster Brooklyn.”

Some presenters will cast their shows live from the station’s subterranean headquarters, while other hosts will record their shows ahead of time and then send them in.

“We are basically doing it like the National Public Radio model,” said Tenney. “This is almost exactly like what they are doing right now.”

The pair will debut Radio Free Brooklyn with a live broadcast and launch party at Lucky 13 Saloon in Gowanus at 9 pm on May 13. They are also still accepting applications for show ideas.

Radio Free Brooklyn launch party and live broadcast at Lucky 13 Saloon (644 Sackett St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, www.lucky13saloon.com). May 13 at 9 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.