SofaKingRadio: Broadcasting Local Bands To The World, From Scottsdale
The Sofa King himself, Dan G.
Photos by Anthony Sandoval
Dan G wakes up while it's still dusk outside and gets ready to start his day at 4 a.m. Work is a small, family-owned butcher shop in Scottsdale called French's Meat Shoppe. He wields sharp blades, dicing up various kinds of animal flesh before processing, packaging, and delivering the meat to local businesses (think Otto from The Simpsons, only tan). Little would you know, the dude dropping off your potential sustenance is also the man responsible for SofaKingRadio.com, an Internet station that broadcasts music 24 hours a day.
For the last five years, he's worked as a butcher, and like a lot of things in his life, he just kind of fell into it. A Detroit native, Dan G moved to the Valley in 1981. He studied journalism while in junior college and eventually made his way to Ohio State where he planned to major in fire science. He had hoped to write fire safety manuals but ran into complications when it came time to complete his clinicals. No hospital would let him through the door. With his tattoos, long jet black hair, and earrings, he wasn't exactly a prime candidate.
"That's when I started to rethink my career options," he says.
While studying journalism he became interested in radio, but had quickly become disenchanted with the medium the more he got into it. "The whole gamut of radio was just a big joke to me," he says. "Specifically, the business aspect of it. I realized how they like to manipulate the public with their lists of top 40 'hits.' I didn't want to have a theme or be a radio personality; I just wanted to be someone who plays good music."
Former Valley DJ Jonathan L proved to be an important mentor during that time.
"He's been in the business over 30 years, and he kind of took me under his wing," Dan G says. "He's been very good to me."
Dan G developed his musical palate by going to local concerts and meeting bands and various managers. "I noticed here in Phoenix there are so many good bands and no one ever plays them. I thought, 'Wow, there's got to be a market for that,'" he says. In 2004, he launched his first rendition of Sofa King Radio but quickly scrapped it. At the time, he explains, the technology and audio reproduction just wasn't where he wanted it to be.
On July 17, 2010, Sofa King Radio version 2.0 went live. (This past weekend, Sofa King Radio celebrated its one-year anniversary at Flicka's Baja Cantina in Scottsdale.)
"I play it all. Nothing is off-limits, so long as it sounds good," Dan G says. True to his word, if you tune in, you'll hear everything from metal and old school hip-hop to classic surf and turf music. While he'll play anything, he tries to focus on musicians who haven't broken into the top 200 of any Billboard lists.
The station received a big boost when Jonathan L agreed to stream his show, "The Lopsided World of L" all the way from Berlin, Germany.
Being on the Internet allows Dan G to reach a global audience. By his estimates, he currently reaches 200 to 300 listeners daily, and people aren't just chiming in to hear the eclectic playlists. He also broadcasts specialty shows live. His most popular show airs Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. It's a local show that gives a platform for up and coming bands to push their sound.
Dan G allowed Up On The Sun to sit in on last week's in-studio interview of local trio, Terrible People.
Local rockers Terrible People chill on the sofa
The Sofa King studio is basically the living area of Dan G's Scottsdale home. There's 14" x 14" ceramic tile on the ground, caricature drawings and pictures of his kids on the walls, and yes, a big ol' sofa. It's olive colored, complete with floral patterns and a khaki-colored throw that covers it. While on their air, Dan G shot the shit with the band and discussed everything from politics and social networking to self-medication. It's interactions like these that he hopes will help the local scene get the attention it deserves.
Here's a short clip of the interview with Terrible People.
Without the help of advertisement, the local show draws anywhere from 500 listeners to 2,800 at its peak. He's hosted 75 interviews over the last year.
"There's just not a lot of camaraderie here," he says. "There's really good talent in the Valley, really good bands, but they don't work together. I think if they all worked together and mixed up their slots [as opposed to bands within the same genre playing the same sets], shows wouldn't be as boring and redundant as they are sometimes. There are people who are trying, though. Joe's Grotto and 910 Live are doing really good things for the local music community."
"Between Dallas and Los Angeles, where are [bands] going to play?" he asks. "I don't get why Phoenix isn't the mecca it should be."
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