By Jason Rubin
Listening to an album at one’s home is often a solitary activity, or at best shared with a very few close friends or family. It is only in a concert setting that a music fan truly feels part of a community of like-minded individuals enjoying a shared experience. And yet, at the conclusion of the concert, everyone goes back to their respective homes, never knowing each other’s identity, never getting the opportunity to explore other possible common interests. It is, therefore, a temporary community, a shallow shared experience, a one-off.
Radio – especially the car radio – offers the same presumed yet still anonymous form of community. Other listeners may be heard on the air requesting songs or winning contests, but each individual listener is still isolated from the others. With the advent of Internet radio stations, that isolation became perhaps even more pronounced, since Internet usage (on desktops, laptops, or mobile devices) has become the quintessential solitary activity of our times.
There is a new form of Internet radio, however, that has become extraordinarily successful at building a true community of listeners who know and care about each other; though the community is small in sheer numbers, it is international in scope, and the limiting factor is likely the quality and breadth of the music played. It is called Deep Nuggets and the key to its community-building success is its hybrid experience of listening through a streaming audio window while simultaneously interacting with fellow listeners on a dedicated Facebook group page.
A shaky start in broadcasting
The brainchild of Warren Bunn, a Los Angeles-based sales and marketing professional who grew up on FM radio in the 1970s, Deep Nuggets (deepnuggets.com) is still a toddler at not quite two years old. But in that time he’s gone from one show to 24 each week.
“I fell in love with radio as a kid from eastern North Carolina, and I always had a dream to be a DJ and play what I wanted,” he says. “I moved to California in 1986 to get into broadcasting, but I got into drugs and alcohol instead. I cleaned myself up in 1998 and got a gig with nwez.net, one of the first Internet radio stations. Now, you have to remember that in 1998 very few people had high-speed Internet. So it was very hard for most people to handle a live audio stream.”
Bunn left nwez.net in 2000 and didn’t return to the digital radio scene until 2012, when he accepted a job with monsterrock.net. But it was short-lived.
Jason M. Rubin is a Boston-based journalist and author, whose debut novel, “The Grave and the Gay,” was published in 2012. To learn more about Jason, visit jasonmrubin.com.