East Village Radio Plans to Return This Spring

Owner Frank Prisinzano and station manager Brian Turner are reviving East Village Radio, a pirate radio station on the FM frequency that survived for 11 years before was shut by the FCC. This time, it will go legit. The duo is currently renovating its old glass front studio at 21 First Avenue as its prepares to relaunch online on a website later this spring.

| 15 Apr 2024 | 06:03

The East Village is on the brink of artsy revival this spring with the much-anticipated return of East Village Radio (EVR). Originally scheduled for an April comeback, the station’s reappearance has been delayed until May due to technical setup and renovation of its old studio.

EVR initially ran as a pirate radio station from 2003 to 2014. “Back in 2003 George Pereira put on a low power transmitter on the roof just sort of on a whim. They started out at 88.1 FM and the reception was so big that the New York Times did an article which immediately went on the radar of the FCC,” said station manager Brian Turner, formerly program and music director for WFMU. FCC unfortunately stopped the radio’s signal in 2014.

The owner of EVR, Frank Prisinzano, also a restaurateur who owns Frank, Supper, and Lil’ Frankie’s in New York and now is working on a restaurant in Italy, was determined to keep the show running. In 2015, EVR returned online through Dash Radio but soon met its demise again in 2016 because while the listeners expanded, so did the operational costs which became impossible to keep up with after a point.

The EVR used to be a phenomenon in the music world, artists like Amy Winehouse and Duran Duran stepped into the small studio located on 21 First Avenue and E. 1st Street. The small studio’s glass window allowed pedestrians to peek in as music played non-stop, courtesy of over 60 DJs and hosts providing 16 hours of free live programming daily, seven days a week.

There is no shortage of famous names in the old programming list with DJs like Mark Ronson who recently produced two songs for Barbie, Andy Rourke of the Smiths, Tim Love Lee, and Steve Lillywhite producing their shows on EVR. The traffic used to reach more than 1 million listeners worldwide a month. In fact, MTA in a pedestrian traffic study discovered that almost 1,800 pedestrians passed by the sound booth per hour.

Turner hopes that the relaunch of the station can capture some of the pre-genetrification vibe when the East Village was a low rent hub that attracted artists and musicians. “East Village prior to its super gentrification was all about the meeting of poets and artists and jazz and new waves and punk and hip hop in its early days, they all fed off of each other. Those people would all be attending shows together and crossing ideas. Certain artists would work outside their genre with other artists, and it was a big melting pot. I guess my feelings about the East Village is that it’s really due for that kind of renaissance,” said Turner.

Since Turner and Prisinzano announced EVR’s return, they have heard back from many who have missed the show. People are excited about a music platform that goes beyond set playlists, craving the experience of a local platform for live and unexpected music once more. “There’s a big difference between having a playlist and having a radio show. People during the pandemic, I think, were looking for not just community connection but for an authoritative voice to help guide their music,” said Turner.

So one thing listeners can expect is the unexpected. Turner aims to bring more underground artists, underrated genres, and a diverse set of people and music that keeps the listeners on the edge of their seats. “There’s going to be Americana. There’s going to be gospel. There’s going to be Prague rock, garage rock, metal, Japanese 80s pop, psychedelic shows, and hip hop shows and more,” Turner said. He is determined to avoid financial hiccups this time around by ramping up sponsorships.

Turner is eager to kick off with a bang and ensure everything is perfectly set up to keep listeners engaged, which is why there are delays in the reopening. In the meantime, people can stay in the loop by signing up for updates about the radio on their website, eastvillageradio.com. When the time comes, they can tune in directly on the website to catch all the action once it’s back online.