The Boogaloo’s radio brainwave
Venue with a penchant for attracting musicians and colourful characters begins broadcasting through home-grown channel
01 February, 2018 — By Róisín Gadelrab
DJ Jenn Crothers and Gerry O’Boyle at Boogaloo radio
OVER at the Boogaloo something has been brewing. For the past few months this favourite hangout of musos, brimming with regulars with their own unique stories, a place where Shane McGowan, Bernard Butler and many more can be found, has been working on a low-key project, harnessing the soul of the Boogaloo with its own home-grown radio channel.
The concept was brought to landlord Gerry O’Boyle by station director Jenn Crothers, who DJs at the Boogaloo, Abbey Tavern and the Groucho club amongst others. Jenn, a Boogaloo regular, had previously been a presenter at Soho and Hoxton radio stations and recognised the pub’s special nature, suggesting to Gerry that, with its musical history, penchant for attracting musicians and colourful characters, the Boogaloo might be the perfect spot from which to begin broadcasting online to the world.
“There’s a big internet radio boom at the moment,” she said. “I got chatting to Gerry here, and he just said ‘go for it’.
“We wanted to open up the stories and mindset to the world. The Boogaloo has been going for 15 years and it is full of the most interesting characters, with stories you wouldn’t believe.
The pub has really famous musical connections. It all made sense.
“We basically made it so it’s curated by music lovers for music lovers. It’s all about people.”
While the station officially launched on Thursday, it has been quietly broadcasting for the past seven months, building up a 24/7 programme of shows, presented by the likes of McGowan, Butler, The Magic Numbers, actress Amanda Abbington, a selection of knowledgeable Boogaloo regulars, as well as the New Journal’s own Dan Carrier. The show is broadcast from a studio in the beer garden, while TV screens broadcast inside the bar. It can be accessed globally online at www.boogalooradio.com and listeners can also download the Boogaloo app.
Jenn said: “We built a studio so people can just rock up there and it’s their show, so when you tune in you feel it’s their music – that presenter in that hub – rather than commercial radio where you hear the same songs over and over. The studio is in an old bin-shed, smack bang in the middle of the garden, so anyone who comes to the pub hears the radio without realising it. Punters pop in and watch the presenters do their show.
“We’re trying to create that feeling that the presenter has total free rein. They are so passionate, we don’t want to be deciding what they do. All day, every single song you’re going to hear is different, you won’t be hearing same seven songs all day.
“It’s authentic. People just do it because they feel if they don’t do that show, it won’t exist. They feel like they have part ownership.”
And there seems to be no shortage of participants, said Jenn.
“Gerry calls upon friends from years gone by and regulars who sit at the bar who really love their music, DJs who DJ here already, people who used to work here, anyone we think will make a great show. Rey Day does a show called Crate Digging on Saturday mornings, a rock ’n’ roll blues show. Ronnie Scotts’ Rachel D’Arcy does a late-night jazz show, we have Carl Barat from The Libertines, and the BBC’s Rowena Lewis co-hosts a show with Billy Lunn of The Subways – they were just here anyway so popped in.
“We’ve also had guests such as Bez and Johnny Marr and jingles off Johnny Depp and Nick Cave. Throughout the night we have a lot of drum ’n’ bass, house music, lots of late-night jazz stuff.
“We have a hip-hop show which is really popular, presented by Jack Donato Brown, who used to work in the kitchen here, and an 18-year-old undertaker who does a drum ’n’ bass show at 9pm on Saturdays called Second Sense.
“We’ve got 50 presenters and growing. Our tagline is ‘the global local’. If anyone wants to get in touch it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.”
There are big ambitions for the station, says Jenn: “Now we’ve got the tech down and a great team of presenters, we’re looking to do bigger things, festivals, takeovers. It’s still the Boogaloo, the same ethos, principles. I DJ here, hang out here, it’s my favourite place in the world. I’ve been coming here for about five years. The Boogaloo is a living institution. It has a cult following, it’s not just four walls and a bar. It has a rich history, now we can take that wherever we want.”