By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Whether you are a record collector or just want to hear some music, the 16th annual CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights will offer something for everyone.
The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 14 at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago. Tickets start at $8, and are available at www.eventbrite.com.
Avery R. Young, James Swanberg, Graham Nelson, Bob Gerics and Earth Program will perform at the event. I had the chance to talk to Shawn Campbell, general manager/founder of Chicago Independent Radio Project, or CHIRP, about the upcoming record fair and the radio industry.
Q – This is CHIRP's first record fair since the station went from being internet-only radio to coming to the airwaves last October. How has it being going?
Great. We've gotten a really nice response. People are excited about it, and people are definitely discovering the station that way.
Q – Are you concentrating mainly on local musicians?
Not mainly. We certainly have a focus on local musicians, but it's not the only thing that we do. We definitely plays local artists every single hour of the day.
Q – The radio industry is an ever changing industry. Is that a good thing that the radio industry is changing, because maybe now people are willing to give another station a chance instead of just tuning into a radio station they usually listen to?
Obviously it is a really strange time for the radio business. And I think that what we're seeing is kind of two things – We're seeing commercial radio have a lot of struggles. It's losing a lot of listeners.
But I think that commercial radio is responsible for some of that themselves for being really unadventurous and really kind of betraying its commitment to localism, which is radio's huge strength, the fact that it's a local medium.
At the same time, community stations and public stations, like CHIRP, have a real opportunity to reach people who really do care about that sort of connection. We're talking about things that are happening in their community, we're talking about shows that we go to that perhaps they might be interested in going to.
We're talking about artists that we're discovering here in Chicago. And I think that there is a real hunger for that connection at a time when every thing in the world is available at your fingertips.
I think that's something that CHIRP does really well. Our DJs are really passionate music fans. They're always excited about the music that they're finding, and they love to share those things with listeners.
Our audience is made up of people who really do love music, and are looking to explore in a way that they're not finding in commercial radio.
Q – You've been involved in the local music scene for a while, and founded CHIRP in 2007. This is CHIRP's 16th year of its record fair. What's new this year? What should people expect this year?
Well, we have more dealer tables than ever before. I think we were at 112 tables the last time I checked.
We will have two levels of dealers. And we've got some live music performances going on downstairs. We've got DJs on the main stage.
We have a little something for everyone. We call it the CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights, so we always like to have some things going on that are interesting to people who might be there with a partner who is more enthusiastic about record collecting than they are.
We provide the live music, and we've got some dancers this year, I understand.
Q – How many people usually attend the event?
Usually between 1,000 and 1,200 people. We always hope for more people, and certainly hope that the word continues to get out.
We obviously know that we have a lot of people that are serious collectors and people who love to buy vinyl, but we also always hope that people come out who are just involved in the music scene in Chicago and think this is a cool event and want to see what's going on.
Q – So does the station have any goals for the year?
We worked for 10 years to get the broadcast up and running. We're still feeling real good and excited about the fact that we got that done, and I think that we just want to continue to reach more people and let them know that we exist.
We know that there are a lot of people who are not even aware of the station. We aren't like the big stations that have tens of thousands of dollars for an advertising budget. We can't buy billboards on the Kennedy or anything like that.
We're aware that some people just never listen to the radio online. We spent about 10 years as an online only station, and now we definitely want to get the word out to people that they can listen to us on 107.1 FM on the north side of Chicago.