Give Scott Keeney, a.k.a. DJ Skee, a minute to talk about his love for radio, and you’ll wind up getting five.
That’s what Peter Ferraro, co-founder of East Village Radio, got on the day he announced the impending closure of his pioneering internet radio station. “At first I was like, ‘Can I call you over the weekend?’” Ferraro recalls. “I got a lot of calls — investment bankers showed up at our door, Clear Channel, CBS they called us. I was ready to do something different, but all of these opportunities were pouring in over such a short period of time.“
But after talking extensively with Keeney about their mutual friends and shared passion for radio in its purest form — a deejay hosting and curating the latest hits and undiscovered gems for a localized audience — the more he got to thinking about what East Village Radio’s concept could look like with a more aggressive business model. Clearly, a desktop website for online radio clearly wasn’t enough to cut it in the Spotify era — an Edison Research study conducted earlier this year found that 75% of 12-to-24-year-olds discover new music through streaming apps like Pandora, Spotify and iTunes Radio.
The result is DASH Radio, an internet-radio platform for Apple iOS, Google Android and mobile web that combines the niche mainstream and niche genre stations of Sirius XM with the guerilla sensibilities of EVR and Keeney’s own SKEE 24-7, including personalities like Caroline D’Amore. Beta-launched on August 19, DASH also comes equipped with noteworthy investors like L.A. Reid, Matt Michelsen (co-founder of Backplane), Mike Lazerow (former CEO of Buddy Media), Minnesota Vikings MVP Adrian Peterson, and Ferraro himself.
“A lot of kids think Pandora is radio, but there’s a gross mislabeling that’s happening,” an energized Keeney says on a late July afternoon at the Crosby Hotel in New York. “Radio was the first social network, the first time people really listened together. And we want to bring that feeling back, but with more freedom than what FM and satellite can offer. Digital radio today is not real radio — it’s like making a mixtape for your friends. There’s still a time where you just want to listen to curated radio, and we want to be that option.”
Reid, the CEO of Epic Records, came onboard shortly after Keeney’s initial pitch. “Radio has always been the biggest avenue for music discovery,” he tells Billboard. “DASH provides an innovative platform for artists while offering listeners the variety they want, without limitations.”
DASH is currently being produced from Keeney’s Skee Lodge studio in central Hollywood, but later this fall it will add an East Coast location in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on North 7th and Wythe Avenue. The symbolism of that studio space is not lost on Ferraro, who’s already contemplating moving out of his own Manhattan loft to be closer to his new Williamsburg workspace. “What we want to do in Brooklyn are things that I was working toward with EVR, finding someone to do a local news update for us and really immerse ourselves in the community in a big way.”