To celebrate more than two years on the air and the recent move to their new Bushwick studio, Bondfire Radio is hosting a festival/live broadcast marathon this Sunday on the covered roof of the Vazquez Building. Chef Airis Johnson (formerly of The London NYC) will provide the food alongside other beverage, food and dessert vendors, so come check out the amazing rooftop views and, oh yeah, 12 hours of panels, live music, and the most diverse lineup of local radio around.
DJ Keisha Dutes (aka TastyKeish of TK in the AM) and Coole High, host of Cognac Time, started Bondfire two years ago as an alternative to regular terrestrial and satellite stations. Dutes had been a DJ for a youth program on WBAI Radio for seven years when she decided to leave to create her own platform. Bondfire broadcasts live, and you can stream it through TuneIn and the station’s website, but all of its content is also archived to podcasts. This gives Bondfire the advantage of spontaneous interaction with listeners (several of the station’s shows rely heavily on people calling in and/or comments on the site’s chatroom), while at the same time offering them the flexibility on on-demand.
A year ago, Bondfire Radio was still being broadcast out of the basement of Dutes’ East Flatbush apartment. “We did our two shows, then procured two more in first year, and now we have 11 shows total,” she said. They relocated to the Vazquez Building in April.
In between shows Bondfire plays round-the-clock music, and the station strives to keep the playlist away from the repetitive drone of the Top 40 cycle. “If you turn on the radio it’s still the same Drake or Lil Wayne, and it’s like, what’s the point of having all these stations if they’re all playing the same thing?” Dutes said. She invites her DJs and hosts to mix it up.
“We have several mixed shows, live DJ mixes, progressive hip-hop, house, electronic, DJs that cover every point, and talk shows,” she explained. Feeling broke and uninspired? Tune into motivational Sweet Success Sundaes, then get your finances in order with Brunch & Budget.
“You don’t just feed the entertaining part of your mind but the thinking part of your mind, too,” she said. “It’s not preachy; it’s fun and super chill, and all the DJs are like talking to your friend,” she said, pointing out that sometimes there’s advice you don’t want get from mom. “Sometimes you want to talk to people who have been through what you’re going through. All our DJ’s, they have other jobs and a million things they do besides the radio show, so listeners can relate.”
The station only has one rule: If you would be ashamed to play it or say it in front of your mom, don’t say it or play it here. “Other than that you can do what you want, play what you want,” Dutes said. “I don’t know what kind of mom you have, but mine’s pretty cool so I can get away with a lot,” she said, laughing.
Dutes said the festival is a way to give back to the listeners; Bondfire feels especially close to its audience. “In the morning show they really drive it,” she said. “Sometimes you have to stay on one news segment and throw out the whole day, like when the police killings of unarmed people keep happening, they need to process that. We’re here to have a conversation, and that sometimes means listening to the listeners and how they feel.”
The gathering feels like the right way to start new chapter at the new location, she added. “We’re getting into a grove right now.”