Hollow Earth's New Orbit

Internet radio gets a public, terrestrial home.

Tucked between a bike shop and a cafe on Union Street in the Central District is the new home of Hollow Earth Radio. After three-and-a-half years in their founder's Wallingford attic, the Internet-only radio station—which broadcasts everything from local artists like Karl Blau and Wheedle's Groove to field recordings of ants walking on a stick and the air in New Mexico—has moved to a public space to broadcast their programs.

"What I hope for is that people will get excited about using this space for their ideas," says Amber Kai-Morgan, one of Hollow Earth's two founders. According to Kai-Morgan, the new space will be a venue for concerts, live in-studios, and interviews. It'll house Hollow Earth's current field-recording workshops, a collection of music-inspired art, and, she hopes, equipment for bands to make cheap recordings.

During this change in operations, Hollow Earth had to limit its number of new volunteers, but now that the DJ booth is out of Kai-Morgan's home, it will mean more opportunities for radio shows and room for an increased number of volunteer DJs. "I feel like more people will be able to have access to our station, because it's a space and because it's in a central area," she says.

In the past year, a number of developments made Hollow Earth's move possible. Gaining federal nonprofit status in 2009 allowed them to apply for grants, and fund-raising concerts, like their annual Magma Festival, helped generate rent money. In July they were awarded a grant from New York–based kickstarter.com to help fund construction and renovation at their new digs. In addition, says Kai-Morgan, "I think just being in a public space is going to afford more financial support from the community."

The Central District was chosen as Hollow Earth's new location because of its rich music history and the plethora of community projects in the neighborhood. Kai-Morgan rattles off a number of nearby businesses and nonprofits she envisions as program partners, including Reel Grrls, Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine, Central Cinema, and the UmojaFest P.E.A.C.E. Center.

To kick off the first month in their new home, Hollow Earth has a series of concerts and workshops planned to introduce the Central District to "freeform radio." The last of these, "Radio Open Mic for the CD," will be like a giant neighborhood ice-breaker: Anyone who lives or works in the Central District gets five minutes of air time to broadcast anything they want.


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