Bagel Radio Celebrates 10 Years of Streaming Indie Rock Tonight at Bottom of the Hill
On February 1, 2003, Ted Leibowitz started Bagel Radio, an indie rock station streaming online from a laptop. Ten years later, he's still at it -- and still broadcasting from an aged MacBook in his Glen Park apartment.
Leibowitz in his apartment.
He's broadcasting right now, in fact, hosting the 10th Anniversary edition of his show 480 Minutes, which he streams live every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And tonight (Feb. 1), Leibowitz will celebrate with a party at Bottom of the Hill, featuring local bands Mister Loveless, Churches, and Birdmonster.
A lot has changed since Leibowitz began in 2003: The once-small community of Internet radio DJs now competes with streaming services like Rdio and Spotify, in addition to online giant Pandora. But Bagel Radio is holding strong at about 40,000 listeners per month, and Leibowitz says he isn't worried about any competition.
"People listen to me and hosted radio because they want to hear why they're going to like something, and they also want to hear stuff like, 'Alright, this next set, all three of these songs were written about the same girl,'" Leibowitz says. "Without the human element of curation... I don't think that they're a threat."
One thing hasn't changed: Leibowitz's show remains focused almost solely on indie rock. And even though he admits to checking out other sounds once in a while -- he even confesses to listening to a bit of classical music before bed -- he's still as interested in guitar bands as ever.
"Rock is my thing," Leibowitz says. Asked whether rock is as vital now as when he started Bagel Radio -- or when he came up as a DJ in the '80s and '90s -- Leibowitz answers quickly.
"Absolutely," he says. "I'm astounded by how much great stuff I find every single week, most weeks."
Bagel Radio isn't a job -- it's a labor of love, one that Leibowitz spends at least 20 hours a week putting together. On days when he isn't broadcasting live, Leibowitz assembles playlists -- all of them unique -- to keep the station humming along 24/7. It takes hours of listening to promos, skimming through songs and albums for suitable songs. Perhaps the biggest indication of how much Leibowitz loves the project is his listening policy.
"I listen to everything, absolutely everything," he says. "Even if there's a guy in a 10-gallon hat on the cover and I know it's going to be country and I don't play country. If I ever have a week where 10 percent of what I listen to makes it into rotation, that's a very happy week."
Bagel Radio celebrates its 10th Anniversary tonight at Bottom of the Hill with Mister Loveless, Churches, and Birdmonster. 9:30 p.m., $10-12.