Pirate Radio No More
A local underground internet radio station is ready to break out
As the crowd at Plaza Midwood bar Snug Harbor waits for a band to take the stage, a deep voice comes over the sound system: “You’re listening to Plaza Midwood Community Radio.” The voice belongs to Jason Michel, who also happens to be the guy pouring drinks behind the bar. Michel and business partner Scott Slagle have been quietly developing an online radio station that features Charlotte artists and hosts from around the region. It broadcasts a tiny pocket of our sprawling city all over the world at pmcradio.org.
Charlotte music fans have long bemoaned the lack of local college radio. Gastonia’s WSGE and Spindale’s WNCW do a fine job covering eclectic American roots genres and regional fare, but their signals are spotty in places, and competition for frequencies is stiff and costly. Going online is a cheap alternative. Michel, thirty-eight, launched PMCR from his Country Club Heights home in January 2011 using free services such as Tumblr and Ustream. Like many online stations, it was considered pirate radio. Recently, though, proceeds from fundraising concerts paid for PMCR to become a legitimate, royalty-paying station.
Michel sees PMCR as offering a little of everything, but with an emphasis on local. The station, which streams twenty-four hours a day, boasts a lineup of twenty-five shows. At this point everything is prerecorded, but in January the station will move to a live format at its new digs behind Intermezzo restaurant on Louise Avenue, a switch that will lend itself better to interviews, chats, and call-ins, in addition to music. Shows will also be available to download from the PMCR website. The station offers iPhone, iPad, and Android apps for mobile streaming.
“We do want it to be community driven. If you aren’t hearing a certain perspective, bring it to the table,” encourages Michel, who plays with the bands Super Ape and Bullship. “The only thing I don’t want is any hate.”
Many hosts are local musicians, but music lovers like Erik Peterson, who works for Compass Group and hosts Sunday night’s The Heavy Set, see it as a fun hobby. “I’ve always wanted to be involved in music on some level, and this is something I can do,” he says. “Right now I don’t care who’s listening.”