Edmonds man realizes his dream of launching an online radio station

Michael Raley, CEO of Jet City Stream, outside the studio.

In June 2011, Edmonds resident Michael Raley left a successful career in radio advertising with one mission in mind: to start his own radio station.

But Raley wasn’t looking to start just any station. He was fed up with commercial radio’s lack of creativity, both in the music it played and the advertising it aired. He wanted a station that supported and celebrated local music, musicians and businesses. And he wanted to make the shows available on a digital platform.

This week, Raley’s vision came true with the official launch of Jet City Stream. The station focuses on local music, which includes finding and featuring local bands. Since April, when the station first aired from its headquarters in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, Jet City staff have worked to build their brand at various community music events, participating in the Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot and Crooked Chinook. Music festival, among others. Jet City also held several small events at its studio inside Rainier Brewery’s former headquarters that became Tully’s-Coffee on Airport Way South.

Probably the most important room in the Jet City studio suite is the server room, fitted with 10.5mm fiber optic cable — “the biggest you can get,” Raley said. “We wanted to push the audio because EQ (equalization) on the internet is average at best. So we created two streams for a fully equalized path. When you listen to it online, it balances out the highs and lows. You can hear total separation in what we do.”

Additionally, the station has a working aerial studio where they have hosted Jet City Stream sessions with local bands such as Reignwolf, Walking Papers, Father John Misty and Fly Moon Royalty.

The station also plans to feature famous names when they pass through the Puget Sound area for a concert. “Our goal is to bring these bands to the station, do an acoustic or electric set with us and leave these gems to us – and then we can play these songs for eternity because they were recorded with us” , Raley said.

He plans to eventually expand the concept to 25 cities nationwide, creating an online network of Internet stations, each with the same focus on local music and community events.

Part of what motivates Raley, 50, are her memories of how good radio was during her childhood and teenage years, when one station played a diverse mix of music – everything from Glen Campbell and Elvis Presley to Roberta Flack and Queen . Today, Raley noted, “there are five major (music) labels and they control 50 major bands, so they fund those bands and that’s it.” As a result, many great bands and their music are left in the collective dust.

Raley with his content director, Shawn Stewart, formerly of The Mountain.

“We just wanted to take the great things radio has done and combine it with today’s music discovery technology,” he said.

Most people in the Internet radio business “either do it in their basement in a bad audio way, or they do Pandora-style, which isn’t radio – it’s just an iPod in line where you can click on a song,” Raley said. “They are not radio DJs. There is no localism.

Raley himself is a former manager of Edmonds Restaurant – he worked at Anthony’s Home Port from 1985 to 1995 – who has been in love with music ever since he started playing guitar in a rock band at age 16 years old.

After encouragement from an acquaintance, he got into radio sales at age 37, starting with KISS-FM and eventually ending up in Los Angeles before returning to Edmonds and a sales job with Clear Channel. , based in Seattle.

However, he grew tired of the type of advertising being aired and added that he “felt the best music in the world was not played on the radio”, due to what he called “the rule of thumb”. ‘record label business’. ”

As he began to build his new station, Raley’s two main priorities were his people – “finding the best people in Seattle” – and also securing what he described as “an iconic place: a place where a group could drop his record and see the DJs and meet them.

DJ Marco Collins, formerly of 107.7 “The End”, and Stewart in the studio.

His success so far is reflected in both the station’s choice of home – Rainier Brewery’s hip-yet-comfortable former office suite – and his equally impressive hires: Shawn Stewart of 103.7 The Mountain is the chief content officer for Jet City Stream and 10:00-15:00 Marco Collins, which broadcasts from 15:00-19:00, is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and best known as the DJ and Music Director of Seattle’s 107.7 “The End” during the grunge era of the 1990s. Leading the station’s marketing is Joe Hammill, former director of “The End” promotions. And Jet City’s vice president of programming is Becky Brenner, who was program director at KMPS for 16 years.

Pat O’Day shown with Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

The well-known names continue as part of the official launch of Jet City Stream this week. On Friday, Collins will be joined by Seattle radio legend Pat O’Day, who will co-host Seattle’s Top 20 Songs, beginning at 3 p.m. According to Raley, the combination was natural: the two personalities made a name for themselves by discovering the best Seattle sounds of the 60s (O’Day, at KJR 950) and the 90s (Collins at 107.7). . – and both men are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Seattle Top 20 Countdown is a weekly feature hosted by Collins that covers Seattle artists’ top-selling albums, based on local record store sales.

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