The search to find local radio stations in Brooklyn can feel fruitless at times. You hunt on Google for what seems likes ten whole minutes before you run into a few options. Exhausted, you smile and think your search has ended, only to find the resulting radio shows don't exist anymore or they don't soothe those niche indie vibes your body has been craving. Well kidlets, let me introduce you to Greg and Emily of Bel-Air Radio. They've definitely got that sweet tunage you desire.
Bel-Air Radio was dreamt up in 2012 by sound artist and designer, Greg Ruben. Inspired by KCHUNG, an LA-based station he'd been a part of that offered inclusivity to any local artist with an interest in sound and radio, Greg decided to found his own station when he moved to Brooklyn.
When I walked in to the upstairs loft-space that late Tuesday rain-soaked night Greg was in the middle of his set for his show, Mas Greg's Rumah Musik, which that night focused on 60s and 70s music from Southeast Asia and featured bands like the Beach Girls.
Bel-Air recently made the move to Silent Barn in Bushwick and are coming up on their two-year anniversary this January. This prompts me to ask Greg what his "big plans" are for the station, to which he replies, "I just hope there’s a steady stream of people that will always get involved."
And Greg really wants everyone involved-- all ages, all forms of programming, podcasts, free form and everything in between. His main goal for Bel-Air is to create a space through radio for people to express themselves.
To achieve this though he needs his right-hand gal Emily Pisacreta, who is the stations programming director and who's been there since the stations inception. Emily pretty much keeps things/ppls in line and makes sure the well-oiled machine that is Bel-Air radio runs smoothly.
When she's not keeping the station in tip-top shape Emily hosts her show Agony Internet, where she explores YouTube and the Internet at large for advice on questions. She told me she's, "sort of collating folk wisdom and pop psychology and trying to non-judgmentally present what other people are saying about stuff." The agony aunt, dear abby vibe is something she's been into since childhood.
Here's a snippet from the episode she was taping, the topic was on dreams.
Emily told me that Bel-Air is a collective made up of volunteer groups. Everyone chips in and takes care of different tasks. It's due to their collaborative effort that the station's been running this long, and that they've had 200+ shows on the air.
Here's the part where I tell you all the secret tidbits about these guys and what they do, ready?
- Before they were called Bel-Air, they played around with the name Welcome Radio, but a few people seriously loathed it and would spit fire if it was chosen so Greg reconsidered
- Greg used to have a high school radio show where he made an iTunes playlist and remotely broadcasted to an online station
- Emily claims her radio show can "cure all that ails you"
- Greg took a trip to Southeast Asia for 4 months and "knows a guy" who gets him underground music you can't find on the internet
- The station has a poster of Keano’s spiritual consultant hotline. You can call them at 212-244-4599 or 718-801-1323
Wanna get involved with these cool people? Just go to bel-air.org, there’s a link to email, just tell 'em what kind of show you wanna do and they'll make it happen. Greg says there’s room for everyone!