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Radio Tacoma

All Tacoma music, all the time

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I was hooked the moment I heard the name Radio Tacoma via a friend request on MySpace. I aimed my computer at it. Though the online station is less than two months old, the selections on the playlist range from the old-timey Tacoma classics like the live recorded crooning of Red Kelly to Seaweed of the ’90s, all the way to the current bands who frequent our live music clubs around town. Andy Shaules, perhaps best known for the musical instrument he invented called the Bowljo (sitar-like stringed instruments made from wooden bowls) or for his regular Thursday night gig at Monsoon Room, started the hometown station as a side project.

“Lately I\'ve been exploring something called \'Red5\', an open source server program,” explains Shaules. “This allows my streaming movies to become interactive multi-user environments, where you can see the other people watching the show, and the live performer can talk back to the viewers ... well what does this have to do with Radio Tacoma? The server I have to lease to do these experiments comes with enough bandwidth to stream 43,000 or so hours of audio per month. Not huge by Time/Warner standards but still a tragic waste if I don\'t do something with it. So while I’m working on interactive 3D Web experiences in my free time — this is just a hobby —  I let Radio Tacoma run 24/7 on the side.”

Shaules says that he doesn’t have a genre preference. He plays a mixed salad of homegrown music including everything from spaced-out electronic, psychedelic rock, orchestra, blues to, of course, garage rock. Though professional broadcasters shy away from this kind of diversity, I found it refreshing. The dramatic changes in sound make it less likely to be music you tune out while doing other things. In other words, it’s more entertaining. Plus there aren’t any commercials. 

Shaules says there is some wiggle room in his “Tacoma only” policy. He accepts music from out of town bands if they recorded it in Tacoma. He will also accept material recorded somewhere else by people who are from Tacoma.

“It’s pretty open,” says Shaules. “I\'ve been asked to play music from a band that is planning on playing a show in Tacoma, and I didn’t think that was a bad idea either.

“I started the playlist with all the local CDs and cassettes I had been hanging onto from the ’90s. I could not stand to listen to these local CDs I had for all this time, but when I put them on shuffle, it\'s the best radio station ever! If you live in Tacoma, I figure you\'ll hear somebody you know within 20 minutes of listening.”

Shaules is currently taking submissions from local artists who would like to be added to his playlist. The easiest way to submit music would be to contact him via MySpace and point him to your downloadable MySpace music track, but his preferred way is to be given a CD so he can control the encoding. Musicians can e-mail him through MySpace and he’ll either reply with a mailing address or set up a meeting locally to obtain the CD.

You can listen now at or at Shaules is also interested in meeting people who would like to host their own shows on his Internet audio/video channel.

See Andy Shaules perform his own music live at Monsoon Room every Thursday from 8:30 to approximately 9:15 p.m.

[Monsoon Room, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, no cover, 1022 S. J St., Tacoma, 253.722.5075]

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