Mutiny Radio, at the edge of the Mission District, plans on being funny – at least for the next five days when it will host and air 25 comedy shows during its 2nd Annual Mutiny Radio Comedy Festival.
Tickets for each live show are available for sale at the door at 2781 21st St. and online for $10 apiece. The proceeds will go to keep the station alive.
“We are scraping by every month. We’re not a non-profit, but we also don’t make any money.” said Pam Benjamin, director of Mutiny Radio.
Mutiny developed out of Pirate Cat Radio, which was started years ago in Los Gatos by the then 15-year-old Daniel Roberts who later changed his name to Monkey Man. It later moved into the Mission location and then in February 2011, the founder left suddenly and those left behind reorganized into a collective, taking on a new banner – Mutiny Radio.
In 2013, however, some of the collective was ready to move on. Unable to see the independent station loose its studio, Benjamin stepped in as director and has since pushed for more programs, hosts and live shows.
“I saw it as this really important community space where people can express themselves without interference,” she said. “All of us here can protest with our voices and effect change by having our own authentic truth.”
Despite periodic financial strain, Mutiny Radio is growing, Benjamin said. With 13 new programs the station expects to see an uptick in listeners. Already the station has 100,000 downloads a month.
Timothy Pizza, the host of “Some Call Me Tim?,” believes Mutiny Radio is “the last bastion of something that has real heart,” in the Mission.
With foam and fur sound insulation on its recording studio walls, Mutiny’s producers operate from an old and occasionally dysfunctional soundboard. For its part, the studio looks out onto a small – really small – plywood stage. Recently, seven actors squeezed onto the 6 by 4 foot stage as they read Natalie’s Story: A Raincheck for Jack Kerouac by Deborah C. Segal. No one in the audience of 20 minded as the thespians ducked under wires and shimmied between each other’s bodies.
It’s the performance space that distinguishes Mutiny Radio from other community-based stations like Radio Valencia and BFF.fm.
A Baldwin Acrosonic piano stands arms-length away from the studio door. On it rests a neatly penciled sign that reads: “THIS IS A VERY GOOD PIANO.” The Baldwin is just close enough to have a mic brought out to capture a moment of Mozart played by a Mutiny regular.
Hosts get access to professional recording equipment, a performance venue for guests and guidance from experienced hosts like “Diamond” Dave Whitaker – a San Francisco mainstay and co-host of “Common Thread Collective.” Whitaker, who has been on the air since the ‘70s at stations like KPOO, also has his own day in San Francisco – February 2.
Mutiny, however, earns only enough to keep the lights on. “I think we go through waves,” said Valerie “Global Val” Ibarra, host of “Women’s Magazine” and co-host of “Common Thread Collective.” “All of our dues, everything just goes to our rent and our utilities and upgrades as needed. And they’re always needed,” she said. “It’s always kind of a balancing act.”
Ibarra called the station’s offerings “eclectic,” which include everything from Ibarra’s “Women’s Magazine,” to “Bughouse Square” – a program devoted to playing music, as long as it is recorded where the musician sleeps.
Some of the 40 other shows include “Flat Black Plastic,” which exclusively plays vinyl, “Unleash The Rain,” a program that offers guidance on how to grow and organize your business and “LWAFLMOYT with Mike Spiegelman,” or “Let’s Watch a Full Length Movie on YouTube.”
“We all have creative control of what we say and it’s uncensored; that’s something very rare – to still have a place like that,” said Roman Rimer, host of Weekly Review, a program covering news items and current events. Rimer, who joined Mutiny Radio in 2013, takes time away from his many jobs, including acting, teaching improv and in-home caregiving, to produce his show. “It’s more a labor of love.” said Rimer.
The guest producers appreciate the audience and station.
“You don’t write poetry to make money, you don’t write poetry because you really think you’re going to reach millions of people,” said Paul Totah, author of “The Gospel of Everyone: A Poetic Retelling of the Gospel of Luke,” who appeared on “Common Thread Collective.” “If three or four people are moved by what I said today than it was a good day.”
The station holds five open-mics a week for those eager to perfect their craft. The space is also available for rental on Saturdays 8-10 p.m.
For more information and tickets for the comedy run go to www.mutinyradio.fm.