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Little Radio Broadcasting New Tune for Main Street

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, March 03, 2009, at 12:38PM
Dave at Little Radio Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Little Radio founder Dave Conway stands outside the internet radio station's new home next door to the Regent Theatre.

Dave Conway has a very simple criteria for what makes it onto Little Radio's online broadcasts. "Good music we'll play, bad music we won't."

For the past few weeks that music has been drawing stares, as passersby encounter a surprising scene in the storefront next to the Regent Theatre. Inside, Conway has set up a small studio and started to build out a record shop that will carry a wide range of vinyl titles. In the process, he's giving Main street a new tune.

Once completed, the shop will carry approximately 2,000 titles, all vinyl. That will include 7-inch pressings of live performances Little Radio has hosted. The only concessions to CD will be those stocked of local artists played on the station. While the space is small, Conway wants to emphasize the breadth of the offerings, stocking just one of most albums. "We're going to have everything, but it's also going to be very selective," he notes.

The albums lining the front of the space have already generated attention. Conway says they plan to change out the titles in the windows weekly.

Conway started Little Radio nearly five years ago, operating as a pirate FM radio station and producing live shows. For the last few years the operation has been based out of a 5,000 square foot warehouse on Long Beach avenue, located just south of the produce markets.

The move to Main street gives Conway a chance to bring Little Radio's content to a new audience -- those just walking by. He plans to bring bands into the studio for live in-store performances, creating a situation where someone walking by on the sidewalk could find a band playing at any time of the day.

The radio station currently broadcasts with live hosts from 10am to 10pm Monday through Friday, and has plans to expand its lineup to seven days a week. Conway says that shows are hosted by DJs, music editors, former record store owners, the occasional actor -- Josh Radnor of "How I Met Your Mother" broadcasts from 4pm to 6pm on Mondays -- and even special sets by bands like the Beastie Boys.

The broadcasts today reach an audience of a couple thousand listeners each day, with people tuning in from around the world.

The station acts as a hobby and promotional tool for Little Radio's events. In two weeks, attention will shift to the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, where Little Radio will host thirty shows over three days. A show on Saturday, March 14, will present four bands in the Regent, a space Conway has his eye on.

Through the shows and in-studio sessions, Conway hopes to create a unique archive of live performances. "The focus is unique live content," he says, adding that he hopes to be able to look back and say "Wow, that's a period of time in music."

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