Thursday, October 15, 2015

Free Radio Provo

Utah County gets a free streaming radio station

Posted By on October 15, 2015, 1:05 AM

click to enlarge gu.jpg
Over the past decade, Utah in general has been dabbling in streaming radio stations. Some have come with great success (like KCQN and the early incarnation of UtahFM); others not so much (like 801 FM and AllPunk). Most have been residing in Salt Lake City, but now Utah County gets its own station with Free Radio Provo. The station features an array of music from multiple genres, picked out by the small staff currently running the station, with local music starting to make its way into the mix. Today we chat with three of the people behind the station as we talk music selection and looking ahead to expansion. (All pictures courtesy of FRP.)

Elder Brycen, Judas, and Seamus
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Gavin: Hey gang, first thing, tell us a bit about yourselves.

They call me Judas because I actually modeled as Judas in several Biblical paintings by Benjamin McPherson.

Brycen: I'm Elder Brycen. I'm a secular missionary from California who has come to Utah to share how my Lorde and Saviour Rock and Roll can save your soul.

Seamus: They call me Seamus because that's my name. I started Free Radio Provo.

click to enlarge Ruckzuck, from NY.
  • Ruckzuck, from NY.

Gavin: How did each of you take an interest in music?

It's hard to say how I really got interested in music. I grew up mostly exposed to church music and the shit off of Disney movies. The only real "rock" bands my parents bumped were ABBA and Simon & Garfunkel, who I mostly hated until I got older. I took piano lessons in fourth grade, but my parents couldn't afford to keep paying for them. I just kept messing around on my own playing by ear until I started on trumpet in seventh grade, which I was okay with since my cousins were introducing me to a lot of good ska bands. I wasn't extremely passionate about the trumpet, so I only stuck with it for a year and a half. Then, in about the ninth grade, three kids performed an instrumental of a Metallica song at a talent show which had the whole school roaring. It was then that I decided I wanted to be in a band. I don't know why I was attracted to bass, but the word around school was that Primus was the band to listen to for bass. Primus was nothing like what I expected, but I fell in love just the same. I've since been on a never ending quest to find the newest coolest music I can find. I can't ever just stick with one genre or one favorite band.

Brycen: I was 10 years old, and my babysitter gave me a copy of Out Come The Wolves by Rancid on cassette. 

Seamus: I got into punk rock my freshman year of high school. The songs, seemed to me, to have substance rather than just being vapid pop songs or formulaic, catchy love songs scientifically designed to get you to buy the pop star's album.

click to enlarge Community Center, from MD.
  • Community Center, from MD.

Gavin: Are any of you involved with the local music scene, or mainly just music lovers?

I'm in a local band, Golden Plates, and the message is that music is worth saving. I encourage my fans to do as I do and spend 10% of their income on records, seeing local bands, or making donations to music charities that help kids learn music and stay off the streets, like Music Makes Music and Legacy Music Alliance. 

Judas: For the last 16 years or so, my life has pretty much revolved around music and the local scene. I started by going to all the local ska, punk and hip-hop shows in the '90s. I attempted a few bands that went nowhere and eventually just started doing bass solo sets to warm the stage for other bands. I wound up managing and booking music for a local venue/coffee shop/smoke shop called Steamers/Ironic Ashes from 2003 to 2006. That's where I met the other members of my current band, The Delphic Quorum. After that, I helped form the country-death band Devil's Cuntry, which split up after a year. Half of that band went on to form a band in Salt Lake City called Folk Hogan, while the violinist and I formed The Delphic Quorum with Wizard, our percussionist and theremin player, with me on acoustic bass, banjo, and autoharp. We picked up Schlongbob, our trombonist, about two years later and after gaining and losing a few members, the three of us stand as The Delphic Quorum.

Seamus: Other than my involvement with the local scene via Free Radio Provo, I am mainly just a music lover.

click to enlarge The Delphic Quorum, from UT
  • The Delphic Quorum, from UT

Gavin: When did each of you first meet each other and become friends?

I met Seamus through Cowboy Dusty. As far as everyone else, I met them back at Steamers/Ironic Ashes, about 2004.

Seamus: I met everyone through the station, either them seeking the station out or me seeking out talent.

Gavin: What initially sparked the idea of doing a music-based radio station?

I decided to do a radio station because I was tired of hearing the same 10 songs on the regular radio.

Judas: Anyone who's known me long enough will attest to the pseudo-radio show, KWJUDAS, which I had made people believe was really being broadcast from my room when we were drinking and hanging out. Also, with what a music geek I've always been, it only made sense after years of that to finally meet up with Seamus, who was already in need of help anyway, and could so easily turn it into a reality.

click to enlarge Bella Trout, from NM.
  • Bella Trout, from NM.

Gavin: What eventually made you decide to do it online, and why Free Radio Provo for the name?

It's easy to do online. I named it Free Radio Provo because I couldn't think of a better name.

Gavin: What was it like getting the equipment and library together to form the station?

I found out the basic things I needed and got started. It wasn't especially difficult though there were occasional hurdles. A lot of it was donated or found on CraigsList and a lot of the music library was borrowed from friends.

Judas: When we met Seamus, he already had a really good established collection of music and some equipment, but with the equipment we already had for our live shows, it allowed a whole new spectrum of possibilities for larger acts to do live performances on the air.

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Gavin: Being a streaming station that's 24/7, what did you need to do to get the stream working?

A dedicated computer, a website, a place to host the stream, a mixer for live shows, software, and music.

Judas: I have no fucking idea. You have to think happy thoughts and a little bit of pixie dust.

Gavin: What was it like first launching the station, and what was the response like during the first few weeks?

I didn't know if anyone was listening. I didn't have a whole lot of help with the station, and it was frustrating. It felt like an iPod on shuffle due to a lack of live content. In fact, I was about to turn it off and quit altogether when Cowboy Dusty, who hosts Cowboy Dusty's Metal Minute, contacted me about a song and told me how much he appreciated our station and that it was nice that there was some real music. I told him that that was awesome, but I was going to call it quits due to a lack of help. He ended up volunteering as a DJ and said he knew some people that might be down to help and that's where we stand today.

Judas: The first weeks after we got involved, it was rough because we didn't really know what we were doing. But it was actually kind of surprising, the reaction we got, because, one, all we had to do was tell people we were broadcasting and they would tune in, and two, we would just mention it casually to other people we were hanging out with or at a party with and they already knew the station. It helped to up the ante a little bit knowing that there were already fans.

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Gavin: How did you go about deciding what you would play during the day without talent?

It was the music that I liked, the music collection of friends and any local music I could get my hands on. Also, the occasional podcast.

Judas: Well, we grew up with such a lack of talent that it wasn't a decision that even needed to be made...

Gavin: What kind of challenge has it been balancing local with national music?

I don't think it's been much of a challenge. I just try to make sure our music rotation doesn't play the same 10-15 songs all the time, like mainstream radio. We also have an awesome request feature, so people can hear what they want to hear.

Brycen: I love my local music spotlight. There is so much great music of all genres being made in Utah. I once went to a show in San Francisco that was just a woman shaking a box of nails yelling into a microphone. I have yet to see a local band here that was anything but great, or that had some kind of pretentious genre and message that no one could comprehend.

Judas: A lot of these bands are from other states, but still local in their hometown. On that note, fuck mainstream radio because you're only going to hear the same things over and over again and I can't describe how priceless it is to tune in and hear a local band from 10 to 30 years ago and be able to request any of their songs.

click to enlarge Ruckzuck, from MD.
  • Ruckzuck, from MD.

Gavin: What do you hope to accomplish with the station and where would you like to take it?

I would like to expose some of the most underexposed, unknown music I have ever experienced myself. There is just way too much music that goes unrecognized and I think more people need to hear it.

Seamus: I'd like to see Free Radio Provo contribute to the local scene and culture in a positive way and hopefully become a stopping point for any bands on their way through Utah.

Brycen: Ideally, to show the world that Provo/SLC is every bit the music haven that Nashville, NYC and LA are, if not more so. 

Gavin: For those looking to either take part in the broadcasts or help out in some way, what do they need to do?

Currently, we are looking for help with social media, photographing shows and performances, street team, finding new music, finding local music. Most importantly, though, we are looking to expand our on-air talent with more DJs. There is no need to come to the station or the studio to host a show. Anyone with the internet, computer, and a mic can host a show remotely. People can call us at 801-876-0854 or email us at Any local musicians can send their tracks to that address, as well, to be added to the rotation.

Judas: Sending bands our way. It doesn't matter if they are from Utah or Kalamazoo, just send bands our way.

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Gavin: What can we expect from all of you and the station headed into 2016?

You can expect me to offend people who are unwilling to think or laugh. I'm pretty much capable of anything. Radio is a new format for me, but Utah will dance and the earth will shake and we will drink the blood of our enemies with our friends.

Seamus: I don't know for sure, but I'd like to see a couple of new shows added, lots of new local music, and maybe some Free Radio Provo merchandise for sale on the website to help support future growth and endeavors for both the station and community.

Judas: We have a lot of ideas for future shows and future events. The beauty of all this is that we have talked about a lot of things that have become actually become a reality through this station. We might even be producing a fishing show, so we'll see, but I'm sure it will be intriguing for both the listener and us.

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