EL PASO — Beer bottles clink in the hands of burly men as ACDC pounds on the speakers. Under the sound of televisions playing football games, a faint chatter can be heard on the second floor of the Pershing Inn bar—“Welcome to Rios Online Radio…”
Since January 2013, Joseph Brooks and Gabriel Acuña, producers for Rios Online Radio, have met every Sunday at the Pershing Inn, 2909 Pershing Dr., to host a podcast aimed at promoting El Paso, its residents and the local music scene.
Rios has produced about 40 shows in two seasons, under Chuco Talks, Rio Sports, and Rio Pod Co.
“I used to do podcasts with my friends a couple years ago in my garage, using a cell phone in a can hanging in the middle of the room. We just shared it among friends,” Brooks said.
“Gabe found out that I had a podcast going and by that point I had wanted to go a little more professional—get some equipment and get some money together,” he said.
Brooks purchased recording and editing equipment, and with Acuña’s previous experience with Chuco Talks – a series of video interviews of El Pasoans – he joined Rios Radio as co-producer.
“When we did the videos for Chuco Talks, it was with Beard of Zeus Productions and it was between projects. So when we compiled our list for it, we had 50 to 60 different topics. I was just eager to start covering them,” Acuña said. “I told him (Brooks) what we were doing with Chuco Talks in video format, but I wanted to do it a lot quicker. I told him we could record in one day and put it out in two days and he said ‘heck yeah.’”
A showcase for local bands
What started out as a small project to promote El Paso turned into an initiative to further advance the city by promoting its local bands and bringing awareness to local music.
“We go to a lot of shows and are involved with Neon Desert. We like being a part of different music initiatives and we started thinking how cool it would be to promote local music with what we do,” Acuña said. “This is how we came up with the idea of an online radio station that would be dedicated to local bands and any travelling bands that are coming through—starting out indie bands.”
By using Rios Online Radio, listeners will be able to hear the band’s interview on the show, samples of their music, and find out when and where the band will be performing.
“So instead of 15-20 people showing up, you end up with 100 people. The whole idea is to start supporting the local scene, getting more exposure and getting more people to learn about it, being aware and start attending the shows,” Acuña said.
Hearing a band before a show, is important for attendance, said Brooks. “For me,it gives me more of a reason to go to their show. If I have never heard of this band, why am I going to buy a ticket? That’s why we are starting this radio station,” Brooks said. “We’re going to play this music that you’ve never heard before and if you like it or love it, you can go see their show whenever they have one. We will post tickets on our website, all of the events that are going on for each band—it’s going to be really personal for the bands.”
Along with their website, the podcasts can also be listened to through stitcher.com, a national online radio station that allows the listener access to podcasts nationwide. It can also be downloaded as an app for any smartphone or tablet.
“They have a large reach and out of the 30,000 shows that they have, Chuco Talks ranks around 7,000—and it’s just an El Paso-centric show. People are listening to us across the nation. They take the show home with them or out town with them,” Brooks said. “It will be great exposure for the local bands in El Paso, they’ll get a lot of national exposure. I also think it’s important for El Paso as a city to get exposure.”
The public is welcomed to come on the show at no cost. Rios is a non-profit radio station, however. Once sponsorships begin to come through, Brooks and Acuña hope to invest that money into improving the radio station.
Plans to grow
“Getting a studio is probably the most important thing. We love it here at the PI (Pershing Inn) because we have our own little space, but it’d be nice and that is the main goal,” Brooks said.
As Rios progresses as a radio station, the end goal is to provide free exposure to local bands nationwide, not just in El Paso.
“Eventually we want to get into the area where we can be local with El Paso but also venture out and expose other local bands in the country who don’t get that radio play. We want to give them a hand and give them the exposure that they may not be getting in their own city. I think that is the nature of Rios Radio, that’s where we are going to go,” Brooks said.
Jose Marquez, 27, a recent listener of Rios Online Radio said he is impressed with the work that Brooks and Acuña have done.
“I found out about through Facebook and I was curious to what they had to offer,” Marquez said. “I’m really liking Chuco Talks since they interview different people from the city.”
Marquez is anxious for the local music segment of Rios to begin, and although he has not heard El Paso’s local music, he hopes that listening to the radio station will help familiarize him.
“I think this is something that El Paso needs. I’m pretty sure there are other people out there who don’t know a lot about the local music here and I think this will help solve that,” Marquez said. “Hopefully this gets a lot of attention and more people can be in the know about the city.”
For more information about Rios Online Radio or any of their segments, visit riosradio.com.