Every day, Enrique Ramirez bikes from his Hunters Point home to Mutiny Radio and Café in the Mission to work 13-hour shifts, seven days a week, mostly without pay.
Ramirez owns the café side of the storefront at 21st and Florida streets; the other half is a radio station. And he’s a partner in that enterprise once known as Pirate Cat Radio, now Mutiny Radio.
It’s Mutiny Radio’s mission — giving voice to the community — that motivates the 25-year-old, who was born and raised in the Mission and attended UC Santa Cruz.
“I know the toll it takes on my body and my life,” he said of running a business. “My goal is to help the radio station how I can and for as long as I can.”
Ramirez and the dozens of DJs helped revive the radio station after Pirate Cat Radio’s owner, Monkey, took off for Europe and the station went offline in February 2011. After nearly a year of rebuilding, the station is stable now, said Aaron Lazenby, Mutiny Radio’s program director.
“We made some mistakes, but I think we figured it out,” he said. “We are in a position to expand because we have the core there.”
To tie up the loose ends, the station is trying to raise $5,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, Lazenby said. The money will be used for rent and other expenses, to keep the station going.
Unlike Pirate Cat’s illegal broadcast, Mutiny Radio is an online-only, nonprofit radio station.
“At this point it’s more trouble than it’s worth,” Lazenby said of running a pirate radio station. “We are trying to have a sustainable organization.”
Some 42 DJs produce and run their own shows, which include a talk show about medical marijuana and a show produced by the nearby Boys and Girls Club.
“A big element of what we want to accomplish is to teach people that it’s good to speak out,” Lazenby said. “And if you have something to say, you should feel empowered to say it.”
That’s a focus that Ramirez takes seriously. He recently began hosting Saturday morning cartoons for kids at the café as a way to bring families to the shop. The café also hosts open mics and live performances.
Ramirez said he’s still in the process of redecorating the place and is curating other types of events.
He hopes the café will become a community institution — the kind of place where people can enjoy a cup of coffee without feeling judged.
As he puts it, he is no coffee snob, but he’ll “make you a kickass cup of coffee.”