Posted // 2013-09-13 -
For those looking for Internet radio that actually has personality, volunteer DJs have been hitting static stations across the Web for nearly a decade. When you're a DJ with a passion and you can't do a show over the airwaves in your hometown, a simple search will find you dozens of 24/7 streams that will let you play and say whatever you want to a worldwide audience, but it's up to you to promote yourself and get the word out on listenership.
One of the success stories to come out of Utah is that of Brian B., host of The Beehive on Party 934, where he plays his own selection of modern music and local favorites coming down the pike. Today, I chat with Brian about his show and love of music, as well as working for an Internet radio station. (All pictures courtesy of Brian B.)
Gavin: Hey, Brian. First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Brian: I am a retired professional baseball player, proud chicken owner and music enthusiast. My guitar-playing abilities are sub-par and some say my singing voice sounds like a combination of Lou Reed and a sea lion. However, I do enjoy listening to other people who have the ability to sing and play instruments and then sharing that music with whoever is willing to listen. Oh, and I host an Internet-based radio show featuring local Utah artists every Sunday night.
Gavin: What first got you interested in music, and what did you enjoy listening to as you grew up?
Brian: I have been a music lover as far back as I can remember. My parents still tell this story about how I used to dance like a maniac and sing to Steve Winwood’s 1986 tune “Higher Love” all the time. Most people today probably laugh at that song, but I still enjoy it. So, don’t judge me, music snobs. Growing up, my Dad had a big influence on what I listened to. A whole lot of Zeppelin, Floyd, The Who and Kinks were usually playing in the car and around the house. Those bands were all I needed to make it through high school in Phoenix. My music-loving floodgates truly opened when I left for Oregon State to be a student athlete. It is nearly impossible to escape the clutches of the local music scene up in the Northwest. Hearing The Shins for the first time was like having cashmere rubbed on your nipples.
Gavin: When did you take an interest in broadcasting, specifically radio and hosted shows?
Brian: I didn’t have much of an interest in radio broadcasting until I transferred from Oregon State to the University of Utah. I started listening to KRCL and NPR all the time. I fell in love with all of the different personalities and the passion they put into their reports and shows. Bad Brad Wheeler’s afternoon show on KRCL was definitely the single biggest influence on my decision to make radio broadcasting a main interest in my life.
Gavin: You're currently attending the U of U in communications. What made you choose the U, and what's its program been like for you up there?
Brian: The communications program at the U is filled with incredibly knowledgeable professors from every medium. I am the kind of person who enjoys learning about everything, so I took a lot of different courses throughout my time at the U. I’ve dabbled in everything from video production and media writing to audio editing and Web design. It has definitely prepared me professionally for a media-crazed world.
Gavin: How did you come across Party 934, and what were your first impressions of the station?
Brian: After I was released from professional baseball and stopped moping around for a month, I started looking for a summer job. I came across an ad on Craigslist, looking for a volunteer radio personality from Salt Lake City. I applied, and over a year later, I am still producing a weekly show, all for the love of music as a volunteer. The concept of a truly independent, nontraditional station brought to you from a community of over 100 personalities from around the world was what really grabbed my attention. It is an incredible jumble of passionate individuals, ranging from broadcast professionals who have been in the business for years to novices who just want their voice to be heard -- all volunteers, I might add.
Gavin: What was it like for you applying to be a part of the station?
Brian: All “mixologists” at Party 934 go through extensive training courses focused on software operation, content guidelines and mock broadcasts with the station’s assistant program directors via Skype. Our program director Scott McWilliams does an incredible job making sure all our personalities are prepared for on-air broadcasts. It is amazing to think of the responsibility he carries monitoring over 100 personalities from around the globe and keeping the station fully operational.
Gavin: How was it putting together your plan for your show, and why did you choose The Beehive for the name?
Brian: The music scene in SLC and surrounding areas is truly incredible. The goal of my show is to introduce people around the globe to the talented individuals and groups who make up the local scene here in SLC. I want to give listeners not from SLC a chance to get a feel for our community and way of life. A lot of the time, people I talk to outside of here tend to have negative opinions about Utah. People think I am bat-shit crazy when I relate the music scene in SLC to that of Seattle or Portland. I wanted the name of the show to be catchy and at the same time resonate with Utah, so I borrowed Utah’s official state nickname.
Gavin: What were the first few weeks like doing the show, and what was the reception like from listeners?
Brian: TERRIFYING. Even though I am comfortably broadcasting from within my home, usually just in my underwear, the thought of broadcasting LIVE to an audience made me sick. For the first few weeks, I had to be completely alone in miy and my wife’s apartment when I would perform. I would kick her out of the apartment, where she would go for an angry and annoyed hour walk around the block. Seems insane, but it really freaked me out at first. All of the “mixologists” receive a program evaluation about every month from radio-broadcast veterans. It’s a great resource for us as personalities to create the most interesting and professional show we can because we really don’t get a ton of listener feedback since we are all broadcasting from remote locations around the world.
Gavin: What's the process for you to record the show and create playlists every week?
Brian: I create my playlists by doing what I have been doing for years: Research and listen to a ton of new music. There are so many great websites out there now just dedicated to great independent music. This day and age is a music-lover’s dream. I often find myself putting together a playlist for The Beehive that is four-hours long, when I only need two hours of content. Creating the playlist might be the most frustrating thing about this opportunity.
Gavin: How much local music do you try to add to the show, and how do you decide whom to play?
Brian: About a quarter of my show is made up of local artists. The well of our local music scene runs so deep that I am always discovering new bands and artists, keeping the show fresh and interesting. The show has a definite “indie rock” theme going, so, I like to use local bands that fall within that spectrum. However, the hip-hop and metal scene are incredible, as well. One could definitely put together a head-banging local-metal show.
Gavin: Considering it's Internet radio, do you feel there's something lacking for you not being on terrestrial radio, or do you prefer having the online-access-only aspect?
Brian: I don’t think it matters what vessel you use to broadcast a radio program on anymore. You can listen to almost every radio station in the country through a live Internet stream or an app; good programming is good programming. If KEXP in Seattle decided to exclusively broadcast online, do you think it would make much of a difference? Hell, no! People would still tune in because it’s phenomenal programming.
Gavin: Are you planning to expand the show in any way, or are you good with things the way they are?
Brian: My goal is to eventually have live performances and interviews on the show. Unfortunately, I am lacking in technology at the moment to put together a show with those elements. Plus, it might freak bands out if some guy asks them to play an intimate acoustic show in his bedroom on a Sunday night. Another drawback is I would have to put on some clothes. Or maybe not. I could call them “The Undie Sessions.”
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
Brian: You can expect great new, independent music to keep piping through your speakers every Sunday night from 8-10 p.m. MST at Party934.com
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Brian: SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC!!! And check out all the independent-minded and hard-working “mixologists” on Party 934. I guarantee you’ll find a show that is right up your alley.
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