Rising costs and gentrification are forcing an East Village neighborhood institution to close its doors, reports Corey Kilgannon in The New York Times (5/20/14). East Village Radio, started as a pirate radio station a decade ago, and "wedged into the dining area of Lil’ Frankie’s pizzeria" on East 1st Street, "will join a list that includes the rock haven CBGB (which closed in 2006) and the grungy, artsy dive Mars Bar (closed in 2011.)" Rising rents and escalating "licensing fees for broadcasting music" tell the tale.
"We decided to close because of forces much bigger than us, but I feel like we’re going out on top," says Peter Ferraro, general manager. "The neighborhood is changing — I mean, you have a TD Bank opening where Mars Bar was, around the corner." Owner Frank Prisinzano, who estimates he put a million dollars into keeping the station afloat, says he rejected offers to buy the station, which "became an internet radio station" after the FCC shut down the original pirate station. "I didn’t want to sell it out and turn it into a commercial station," he explains.
East Village Radio "embraced the nonconformity of the East Village and quickly became a neighborhood institution with a devoted following — not only locally, but also among foreign listeners seeking to tune into the spirit of the East Village." It attracted tourists and "more than a million listeners a month," as well as visits from the likes of Lou Reed and Amy Winehouse — whose producer, Mark Ronson, was a DJ. "I don’t see it as a loss," says Frank. "It was a joyous thing, that we took it so far and had a great time doing it."