East Village Radio is Shutting Down

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Twitter: @AndreaGompf

I was super bummed to learn this morning that East Village Radio, a pirate internet station that has been running out of a storefront on 1st ave for the last 11 years, will be shutting down operations on May 23rd. The news broke on East Village local news blog EV Grieve — a fitting outlet for a station that was in many ways a love letter to the neighborhood.

I’ve always had a soft spot for EVR. Much like the work we do here, the radio station was all about championing new, independent voices. Its 24/7 programming brought together DJs, producers, and personalities from all over the globe; even as internet streaming apps threatened to eclipse my interest in radio stations, EVR’s special local/global thing kept my attention. In particular, my girl crush Julianne Escobedo Shepherd‘s show Universópolis — which lived mostly in the space where sounds of the Latin American diaspora and digital music converge — was a highlight. On any given Saturday afternoon, you could walk by the storefront and see her chopping it up with everyone from the Peligrosa boys to Ricky Blaze to Lady Leshurr to Empresarios.

Ironically, it was actually EVR’s growing popularity that did it in. CEO Frank Prisinzano (who also owns neighborhood restaurants Frank, Lil Frankies, Supper and Sauce) explained to EV Grieve: “Every time we get a new listener, it costs us more money with licensing fees and Internet costs. After doing some projections, we see that it is going to be very, very difficult for us to continue to break even.” Apparently, drawing more than one million global listeners each month has made their model financially unfeasible, EVR explained. “We pay a higher rate for royalties and licensing than Pandora pays. We live in a world where these behemoth music-streaming services keep going in for more capital,” general manager/head of programming Peter Ferraro told EV Grieve. “It’s almost like we are being penalized for our growth.

While this chapter in radio history has come to a close, the team behind EVR aren’t going away. Prisinzano tells EV Grieve that he’s by no means done with the East Village: “I’m looking to come up with something else now. I have a lot of ideas. This particular model failed. We closed it down. I’ll build up a little more capital and come up with a different idea.” he said.

In the meantime, you can be sure that the last shows will be a big party and perhaps even find new homes:

I reached out to Julianne to see what will happen with the Universópolis 4-year archive currently housed on EVR’s site. She tells us that while it will no longer be up on EVR post-shut down, she’ll be posting a Best Of somewhere on the internet soon. For now, be sure to check them out while they’re still up, and tune in on Saturday for Universópolis’ last show (the day after her birthday!).