Sarah Cruz* from LPRC member station WDNA in Miami writes about their recent live remote broadcasts. It’s a great story of finding that sweet spot — where public radio, music, history and community converge, enriching the local experience and helping the station grow. WDNA has a long history of hosting and broadcasting live shows. You can listen to one of their latest remotes here.
Live Remote Broadcasts: WDNA Miami + Ball & Chain Hit a Sweet Spot
This January, WDNA kicked off a new live broadcast – Jazz at The Ball & Chain. Ball & Chain is an iconic Miami venue in Little Havana, dating back to the 30’s. It re-opened a little more than a year ago after being closed down for several years. Shuttered up all those years was a beautiful bar with a rich jazz history. Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, and Count Basie are just a few of the greats that performed there.
This isn’t WDNA’s first live, remote broadcast. Our Tuesday Jazz Party at Blue Martini Kendall (bar/restaurant) has been running successfully for a few years now, brining great live music to a suburb that was seriously lacking in quality entertainment.
“All of these factors culminate into a beautiful and really fun night that celebrates music, community, and local history. We’re also sharing and growing our respective audiences.”
The Ball & Chain broadcast, though, is unique. Ball & Chain is situated on the main street of Little Havana – Calle 8 – a neighborhood that holds a lot of history and memories for Cuban immigrants in Miami. It’s a place were many made temporary homes that became permanent. The neighborhood is also home to many Central American immigrants from Nicaragua, Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras. So there is a wonderful multi-cultural vibe.
On Thursdays, the day of the live broadcast, Ball & Chain has salsa lessons and music in the bar, while the jazz is outside in their pineapple band shell. They also serve Cuban-style food and drink.
It’s a wonderful partnership because we are neighbors, and we both care about jazz and preserving local history. Nick Tannura, a great local jazz guitarist, curates the music. The owners – Bill Fuller, Zack Bush, and Ben Bush – are jazz lovers, so they’re committed to hosting and broadcasting quality music. All of these factors culminate into a beautiful and really fun night that celebrates music, community, and local history. We’re also sharing and growing our respective audiences.
Content, community service and station growth: Striking a balance
There’s a special balance involved in developing content as a public radio station. Obviously, our primary concern is fulfilling our mission to provide quality content that’s beneficial to our communities. In our case, that focus is jazz, blues, and world music. We also do a lot in the realm of music education. But, we also need to constantly be increasing our revenues, and ensuring that we develop innovative content that highlights the local, while also appealing to global streaming audiences.
This Ball & Chain partnership seems to really hit the sweet spot of these intersecting components. We at WDNA and the folks at Ball & Chain are very excited about the future of this project.
Ball & Chain was already programming jazz before WDNA got involved. But now, WDNA does a live, hour-long broadcast of the performance on the last Thursday of each month.
In addition to providing rich, local content, this live broadcast helps us fill these hour-long holes we have in our locally produced programming. Normally we end up paying for a syndicated show. With these live broadcasts, not only are we producing local content, but we garner revenue for the station.
Making it happen
This broadcast is set up as an underwriting program through Howard Duperly, WDNA’s director of underwriting and marketing. Live remote broadcasts do require a good amount of planning and investment from all parties involved. As a result, we require a minimum commitment of six months from the client.
WDNA’s promotion investment in the project includes pre-recorded spots, live mentions, space on our website, e-blasts, social media, and two live call ins after the broadcast. We employ three WDNA people for the broadcast – Michael Valentine serves as board operator at the station; Jason Matthews is our on-site broadcast engineer; and Cary Alexander, host of the Latin Jazz Quarter, hosts the live broadcast.
Ball & Chain provides the necessary soundboard, internet connection, and other required on-site technical components. They employ a sound engineer, photographer and videographer. They also have a great social media presence, so we combine efforts there to promote the night.
Thus far, we’ve had two broadcasts – the last Thursdays of January and February – and they’ve been a great success! January was a bit more straight ahead, featuring Mark Small, an incredible saxophonist in Miami, by way of New York City. February featured Latin Jazz and Grammy award winning trumpeter, Brian Lynch, and his ensemble.
We’ve had a solid turnout of WDNA listeners. At February’s broadcast, I was standing at the bar waiting for a drink, and the man next to me asked if I worked for WDNA. I said, “Yes, are you a member?” He grinned at me and pulled up the antenna of the pocket radio in his breast pocket. “You know it!”
It’s been a great opportunity for us to meet more of our listeners, for Ball & Chain to build up new clients, and for us to jointly grow the jazz scene, both locally and globally. We cannot wait for March’s broadcast!
*Sarah Cruz is WDNA’s Membership & Development Director.