In 2010, if you want to help promote the bands you love, you tweet about them. If you're old-school, you blog about them. Or if you're three guys who are nostalgic for the days when discovering good music didn't take so much work, you start a radio station. As we write this, we're listening to the Beastie Boys' "Break" streaming over at NewtownRadio.com, the recently launched Internet radio station that wears its support of Brooklyn—both its music scene and its environmental causes—on its metaphorical sleeve. For that, we gave them a "Best of Brooklyn" shout-out, then we stopped by their studio in Bushwick to ask co-founder Mark Brinda what exactly he was thinking, starting a radio station in 2010.
The L Magazine: I imagine you've been asked this a bunch, but can you talk a little bit about how this whole thing started?
Mark Brinda: To go all the way back, I have a day job, and I was just kind of stressing out, not feeling very happy or fulfilled with my life, so I took some time off to re-evaluate my situation and thought, "I like music, I go to shows all the time. Wait a minute—I grew up with radio, radio can be a really good format â€˜cause you don't have to work very hard to find great music, unlike reading blogs. There should be a radio station that doesn't suck in New York."
The L: So when you come up with the idea to start a radio station, what was the first step toward making it happen?
MB: Well, we didn't know anything about radio, at all, so the first step was to buy a computer. We figured a computer would be an important component of an Internet radio station. The night the three of us sort of sealed the deal and made it official, the next morning we got up and went to Best Buy and bought that laptop (points to laptop). It was like, "We're in it! Here's the credit card." We didn't really know what we were doing. We knew we needed it, so we spent a lot of time thinking about a name, and we were like, "We should actually do something good with this," so [raising awareness about Newton Creek] is a big part of what we're trying to do as well.
The L: In terms of trying to clean it up?
MB: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Newtown Creek Alliance is an organization that does a lot of work. They've gotten tens of millions of dollars in grants for efforts to clean up the creek. It's going to get better. It's such a disaster. It's so sad that it's such a mess.
The L: Not to get all nostalgic, but SPIN's celebrating their 25th anniversary this week. I sort of had a moment today where I realized that between SPIN and the one independently owned radio station in Columbus, Ohio, that's how I found out about music growing up. That was it. I realized how much I missed the radio. What is it about the medium that struck a chord with you guys?
MB: It's easy. It's like the difference between watching TV and reading a book. Sometimes, I want to proactively look for music, but sometimes I just want to sit and have someone else play it. The fact that it's live is kind of neat. Blogs you can script and sculpt, but here it's like, "Oh fuck, we're still on the air. Shit." Goofy, fun stuff happens that you wouldn't be able to catch otherwise.