Broadcasting D.C. to the World, Full Service Radio Prepares to Launch at the LINE Hotel
Photo by Stefan Merriweather
Inside the old First Church of Christ Scientist building in Adams Morgan, construction is nearing completion in transforming the previous house of worship into the forthcoming LINE Hotel. Slowly but surely, the hotel has established itself at the northern end of one of the District’s busiest and most lucrative neighborhoods, seeking to capitalize upon the area’s creative energy through its own intrinsic features of art, cuisine, and music.
The completion of the D.C. LINE will also mark the start of Full Service Radio, a community radio station that will broadcast live from the hotel’s lobby. The project is the brainchild of Jack Inslee, the former executive producer of New York-based food network Heritage Radio. Inslee, a musician and DJ in his own respect, has worked for the last six months to cultivate a new type of community radio station, one marked by the inclusion of local influencers that seeks to share the cultural achievements of Washington with the rest of the world.
I met up with Inslee at Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe, a few blocks south of the LINE’s construction site, to discuss Full Service Radio and what listeners in the city can anticipate from this project in the forthcoming months.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
D.C. Music Download: What can you tell me about Full Service Radio as a project, and what specifically makes it a different type of internet podcast and radio show?
Jack Inslee: Full Service Radio is going to be both a podcast network as well as an internet radio station. All of the content will broadcast live online and archived to iTunes. What makes it really unique is that it will be broadcasting out of the LINE Hotel lobby, which will open soon here in Adams Morgan on 18th and Columbia.
The studio will be in the lobby–as soon as you walk in, you’ll see its glass walls, kinda like a storefront. There’ll be 30 shows scheduled a week, different shows with different topics, ranging from straightforward music shows to arts and media, culture, Adams Morgan history, food and beverage–a full spectrum of topics–hosted by local influencers in D.C. The other interesting element is that you’ll be able to access the live stream in the hotel rooms via television.
You previously were associated with Heritage Radio, which is a fairly well known food radio station. What motivated the shift in focus towards music and talk radio and spearheading this project?
I actually had no background in food prior to Heritage–I went to NYU for music production and technology. I make music, perform and DJ, so music and art are way more my primary field of passion than food. I had the opportunity to help launch Heritage eight years ago now, and then kind of fell in love with food through that work. Kat Bangs, who works with Sydell (the hotel group), approached me with the opportunity to start something totally new, which has given me a chance to explore so many new and exciting fields of interest.
Obviously a big part of this project is the partnership with the LINE hotel. Can you paint us a picture of what the in-lobby studio will look like for this project, and about the process of working with a hotel in developing this community radio?
To start, the studio in the lobby will be very visible. I think it’s important to have a podcast and radio set up in a very public space, it’s different from doing it in your bedroom or in an office space where you’re not interacting with other people. I like the fact that people in the lobby will be able to see what’s happening and interact. I hope we bring people from the lobby into the studio and interview them randomly sometimes, like why not?
The LINE hotel has been really incredible to partner with. We’re able to keep complete creative control of what we do, and they really support all of their creative partners more than any other company I can think of.
Can you outline some of the people who will be involved in this project and hosting programming for Full Service?
So, first and foremost, D.C. Music Download’s [editor in chief] Stephanie Williams will be hosting a show called “Know Your Scene.” Some of the other incredible partners we have include Morgan Hungerford West, who runs A Creative DC–she’ll be doing a show. Desirée Venn Frederic (who ran world vintage store Nomad Yard Collectiv), Brightest Young Things, Rock Creek Radio, Erik Bruner-Yang (the owner of Maketto) will be doing a show while running two restaurants in the hotel. Jamal Gray, Songbyrd, Capital Area Food Bank and James Scott from Otherfeels will do a show. Dolcezza Gelato is doing a show about everything from psychedelic healing to natural childbirth and gelato. As you can see, it’s a wide spectrum.
Before you started working on Full Service Radio, you were involved in Full Service Party, which started as a circulating electronic house party and live music event. Can you talk a little bit about the experience of transitioning from doing this big live event to doing an online radio program?
Full Service started as a house party with my good friend and collaborator Wreck Tech maybe ten years ago now? Eleven years? In Brooklyn. It evolved into a monthly DJ series and kind of became this collective of friends, DJs and producers. We’d have parties in Brooklyn and Miami and take over a stage at Bonnaroo every year, which we’ll be heading back to for our fifth year in a row. Full Service has always been, for lack of a better word, the brand. Moving forward, Full Service Radio is the radio, and Full Service Party is the party, the event arm of this project.
Do you foresee any live content or events associated with the Full Service Radio station? Anything similar to a Tiny Desk concert?
One hundred percent. One distinction I want to make is our podcasts will mostly be live to tape; we’re not going to be editing, which is going to make it sound and feel more like FM radio. We’re totally gonna activate the studio for live studio sessions, performances, and then retail pop-ups. Desirée [Venn Frederic], who I talked about before, might take over the studio for a week and host a retail pop-up where every piece of vintage clothing has a corresponding radio story to it. You’re looking at the piece and then listening on headphones. Fun things like that. I want to open it up to the public every so often, and invite people to come tell their stories as well.
Will the music programming be geared primarily towards the DMV community or will it have a wider, regional focus?
So it’ll be pretty split between music, arts culture and politics. The talent will all be D.C., but the focus is national. We’re not just talking to D.C., we’re talking to the world about D.C. We’re teaching the world about D.C., the D.C. perspective.
I just moved here from New York in September, but what’s clear is that everyone here has a common goal: to change the narrative of what D.C., especially given the results of the election, is. It’s more than a transient city, it’s more than a place people come for temporary jobs in politics–there’s all these creators. It’s about pushing that narrative to a more national audience, especially given the hotel will have so many influencers from all over the world coming to stay there. So that’s our first line of audience. We’ve got around two hundred rooms per night–let’s start with them, let’s teach them about D.C.
Are you partnering with any particular online media company in broadcasting?
We’re partnering with an awesome group called Simplecast, a podcast hosting platform. The podcasts will also be available on iTunes, Stitcher and most other places you can find podcasts.
Full Service Radio will begin broadcast later this year. You can follow Jack Inslee on Twitter for updates and previews on the project’s development, and find him at the Rock & Roll Hotel every second Saturday hosting Full Service Party.