Everyone knows New York real estate is tough. Two people who know it particularly well are Tom Tenney and Robert Prichard. Both were involved with experimental Lower East Side performance space Surf Reality, which garnered repeat mentions in the Times for their contributions to the alternative comedy scene of the mid-late ’90s and was one of the home bases for the Art Star community, along with nearby Collective Unconscious. Surf Reality went a similar route of many experimental venues in the neighborhood, and closed in 2003. It’s since been replaced with a Bikram yoga studio. Faced with the inevitability of an unaffordable rent and changing tides, they turned to the airwaves and began online community radio station Radio Free Brooklyn in May of 2015.
When I arrived at Velo, the bike shop on Dekalb Avenue in Bushwick, I was directed down a dimly lit staircase to the basement. In a small room, the only one not stocked to the gills with bicycle guts, I found Rob Prichard and Tom Tenney, creator/producers of Radio Free Brooklyn. They’ve outfitted the room, which they rent from Velo, with turntables, microphones, mixing boards and computers in the name of launching Brooklyn’s own 24/7 online radio station.