Independent internet radio station Deep Ellum On-Air prides itself on contributing positively to the entertainment scene now in the music-rich neighborhood, and finds its purpose in supporting local musicians, comedians, and the businesses.
This independent internet radio station isn't without its struggles, however. Lack of funding has taken a toll on the all-volunteer operation. That hurdle haven't deterred Jantzen Ray, founder and president of DEoA, and he has absolutely no desire to close the doors to his station permanently. Here is our conversation with him and about the current status of DEoA. We also spoke with long-time collaborator Jagger of Jagger and Tara show on 102.9 NOW FM.
Why should people care about an independent internet radio station?
It's real, it's raw, and its people that are able to do radio unfiltered. Its stuff that you can't hear on radio, number one, because they're able to say things that they can't say because of advertisers or the FCC.
It's all local music, right? Everything that you play, everyone that you have on the air is all local?
98% of it is local; we do get music sent to us from outside Dallas/Ft. Worth. We get a lot of music from Austin, but I consider them local, we also get music sent to us from Sylvania and even Germany. We just want people to be able to get their music heard and we want people to be able to put on a radio show and follow their dreams.
The show hosts and the talent you have, are they all volunteering their time for Deep Ellum On-Air?
Yeah, none of us get paid, it's all volunteer work.
That's a testament right there to how much you all want it. How long as Deep Ellum On-Air been around?
I started doing it close to six years ago, but it was under a different name. I was the producer on the Jagger show on 105.3 and me and Jimmy, one of the other guys on the show, started doing internet radio back when no one was doing it. Literally it was just like people doing it in their basement kind of thing. We had around 30 listeners and we just kept doing it because we knew that one day that's where it (radio) would be going.
You mentioned that you are struggling to keep the lights on. What's going on with that? Are you struggling to find funding or advertisers and partnerships with local businesses?
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It's all of the above really. We had to leave Deep Ellum for reasons I don't really want to get into so we're now stuck in Highland Park, it's really hard, and we're trying to get back into Deep Ellum because we want to be able to do events like we were doing before we left. We were doing Ruckus on the Roof, Hip-Hop versus Dub-Step, comedy shows, and many different things. Our events were so popular that we would have to turn people away.
But we've teamed up with Pugs Moran from the Pugs and Kelly show and his show is sponsored by Hire a Hero, but we're trying to do a show called Staff a Hero where we get veterans to come in and learn how to do radio and they do their shows. The shows would talk about available jobs but its' been hard because people don't want to back a charity right now.
You got out in front of internet radio and now you're trying to keep it going as more people catch on to it. What are your plans, as far as trying to keep Deep Ellum On-Air going?
Well, we would like to get back into or around Deep Ellum and get a place where we can host events again. I feel like if we could start doing events again, twice a month, that could be a really good way to generate some money. Plus, any time we're doing events that would help out the artists involved and businesses in the area because it would mean more people coming and going in the area.
So we're just trying to find a way to get back into Deep Ellum, get a place where we can do events, and try to find someone that could help us do sales. I just wish that somebody with a little bit of money could see what we've done with absolutely nothing. Everything that we've done we have done with no kind of financial help whatsoever.
And somebody that was smart could see what we've done with nothing and say 'Oh wow, these guys have done something with nothing. How about if we give them a little something and see what they could do then.'
But that's a dream world and we're not going to count on that to happen. We're just going to keep creating content and try to keep the lights on.
So, with a minimum investment of $10,000 do you think that Deep Ellum On-Air would be able to take off?
I know it, I know it.
Let me ask you this then. Why should someone invest their money with you and Deep Ellum On-Air? What's the draw there?
Honestly, because we're community. If you really want to do something good with your money then you give it back to the community. Anything that helps us also helps out the artists, the local businesses, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be at every single event that there is in Dallas but we can't because we don't have the resources and we can only do so much.
We also talked to Jagger, from the Jagger and Tara show on 102.9 NOW FM, about Deep Ellum On-Air and Jantzen Ray. Our interview follows.
What are your thoughts on what Deep Ellum On-Air is doing and trying to accomplish as far as launching a 24/7 independent radio station?
I think what they set out to do was very ambitious. For a start-up, it is never easy. But I believe they are helping to fill a void that exists in commercial radio. As a matter of pure economics, major radio companies have to go after the biggest shares possible to maximize their investment.
In order to do that they have to play the most popular music available, and that in turn squeezes out most of the artists that Deep Ellum On-Air is catering to. That audience is always going to be smaller, but I would argue that they are more fiercely loyal, like minded in many ways, and will support an entity that supports what they believe in and love.
Do you think there is a place for internet radio stations, where they can actually compete (and be profitable) with terrestrial radio?
Yes, I believe there is a definite place for internet radio stations because they can provide niche programming that commercial, terrestrial radio can't touch. The question is how do you monetize Deep Ellum On-Air so that it can thrive and grow and be and provide a growing impact in the market place.
As Jantzen will tell you, ain't nobody getting rich at Deep Ellum On-Air. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
It's a challenge that I believe can be overcome, but it will take some business savvy and a continued commitment on those involved in most locally based internet radio stations.
Your experience with Jantzen goes back some time. Have you offered any support, in any form, for what he's trying to accomplish?
I was more involved at the beginning of Deep Ellum On-Air than I have been recently. In fact, I came up with the name for Jantzen. He had wanted to use another name, but that was already in use, so I suggested Deep Ellum On-Air.
Beyond that, we spent many hours discussing what it could be, how to approach it and how to execute his plan. I consulted with him on his first serious effort to bring a revenue stream to the business and brain stormed with him frequently on marketing ideas, community outreach and various other subjects.
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Jantzen is a great example of doing something based on pure determination. He conceptualized the idea and had very little capital to work with, but somehow he managed to piece it together and gave birth to his dream of giving a voice to local talent, both bands and internet radio/video hosts.
If you, or someone you know, would be interested in speaking with Jantzen Ray about opportunities to contribute you can reach him at jedijantzen@DeepEllumOnAir.com.