Underground Radio is Still Alive—Meet BFF.fm

Stevanie Wazna-Blank | November 26, 2013 | Story Music

Broadcasting from the Mission, BFF.fm is the brainchild of Cosmic Amanda, a local blogger for both Mission Mission and Uptown Almanac. Although a new resident (she got here from Boston a year and a half ago), Amanda has been paying attention to SF, specifically our music scene, for quite sometime.

Back in Boston, she joined her college radio station as a freshman and stayed on to continue her program for what became half her life. Focusing on the underground music scene, she mined the internet trying to find bands or tracks that people hadn't heard of. She discovered that the bulk of the music she was coming across was coming from the Bay Area. Already visiting the Bay several times a year for her work (she's an online marketing manager at an East Coast publishing house), she saw shows, hung out, and began to develop a network of friends here. All of which spurred her move to the City by the Bay.

Taking her career with her, Amanda made the leap from East to West. She now works East Coast hours from 7am to 3pm, while running the radio station from 3pm to midnight. Jokingly, she admits "I'm about the age that a lot of people start having kids, but instead I gave birth to this radio station. I haven't been sleeping in the past few months." And to her happy surprise, her baby is growing a lot faster than expected.

But how does an unprofitable venture find a place to post up in this rent-forsaken city? That's where The Secret Alley, a workshop and art collective, comes into the picture. Amanda already knew a few people involved, and felt that it was the perfect "inspirational" place for her radio station to take root.

So in June, when she was invited to the Alley for a birthday party, she took note of a "for rent sign", and by July she was part of The Secret. Over the next couple months she outfitted the space, with the help of her husband the audio engineer, and bought the necessary equipment. Then through a network of friends as graphic designers, former music directors for college radio stations, and DJ's, BFF.fm began to take shape.

The station now has 30 DJs, with each one paying monthly dues to help pay the rent. Some even include old friends from Massachusetts that pre-record their sets as if playing to a live audience. Although the radio is 24/7, live shows mostly run from 12pm to 12am everyday, with programs including garage rock, electronica (pop, chill, experimental), local and new underground music. As well as specialty programs, like a show dedicated to songs from the 80's, or that sound like their from the 80's, or a Sunday night "Teen Tragedy" program dedicated to rock music from the 50's and 60's with each song being about a teen catastrophe.

Aside from the music, the radio also hosts talk programs sponsored by local blogs. Andrew Dalton of SFist hosts a one hour talk show on Friday afternoons, Kevin Montgomery hosts Uptown Almanac's "Disaster Hour" on Thursdays, and "Burrito Justice Radio" broadcasts on Wednesday with co-host Allan Hough of Mission Mission.

"Naturally, people started coming forth and asking if they could be involved. Everything has just been happening really smoothly," says Amanda. BFF.fm is also starting to work with local venues, promoting their shows and the music of local bands on the air, as well as making their physical presence known at these events by playing the music in between the musical acts.

You can even catch them tomorrow at Bottom of the Hill for their launch party, which will have two local bands, a band from LA and a DJ at the event.

"I'm going to focus all my time and energy on this, even if it means eating beans out of a can. My ultimate goal is to build a really awesome station so that when people around the world want to know what The Bay Area sounds like, they'll want to tune in to BFF.fm to hear it. Radio is such a direct one on one connection. Even though you're broadcasting to multiple people, each person feels like their the only one listening. The best DJ's know that, and speak to you. They don't say 'Hey everybody,' they say 'Hey you. How are you? Thank you for listening.' You're inviting the DJ into your life. It's magical."

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