East Village Radio, one of New York’s most beloved Internet radio stations, has decided to cease its operations as of next Friday, May 23. According to EV Grieve, the decision was made due to the rising cost of licensing and Internet fees, which has made it hard for the 11-year-old station to even break even.
“We pay a higher rate for royalties and licensing than Pandora pays,” explained general manager Peter Ferraro. “We live in a world where these behemoth music-streaming services keep going in for more capital. It’s almost like we are being penalized for our growth. It’s very difficult for an independent medium music company to survive in a world where Apple is paying $3.2 billion for Beats by Dre.”
“I don’t want to give up the integrity of the station,” added CEO Frank Prisinzano. “The only way that I really see it continuing is by bringing in another benefactor who would take over part of the station. I really don’t want to do that. Pete and I understand the neighborhood. We want to run the station. I don’t want to sell it out.”
Over the years, East Village Radio has attracted countless local icons and A-list guests, including Lou Reed, John Lydon, Richard Hell, even — as you can see in the photo above — Duran Duran. The station is also well known for its top notch programming, which has included shows from Minimal Wave founder Veronica Vasicka, Mark Ronson, former Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, GRAMMY-winning producer Steve Lillywhite and many more. To say it will be missed not just locally but internationally — the station was drawing around 1 million listeners a month — is a major understatement. What it does do is raise questions about the future of Internet radio as a business model and the difference between the fees legitimate stations pay and the ones services like Spotify and Pandora are responsible for.
As for what Prisinzano plans to do next, he said, “I’m looking to come up with something else now. I have a lot of ideas. This particular model failed. We closed it down. I’ll build up a little more capital and come up with a different idea. I’m really sad about the decision, but I think it has inspired people to do similar things all over the planet. We started out as a pirate radio station, and we decided to amplify it and design the local Internet radio model ourselves. The model is untenable. It just doesn’t work. It’s the system’s fault. There isn’t any legislation that will ever be written without someone lobbying for it. We can’t afford lobbyists.”