The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on most, but it has also helped some businesses find a new way to connect with customers. Shannon Bagent, owner of Black Sparrow Music Parlor, now serves her customers ears.
"The radio station is an extension of the same spirit and intentions as Black Sparrow Music Parlor was, which is an extension of what my truth is," she said. "Black Sparrow is a platform for the freedom of expression."
Black Sparrow Radio, KBSR, is available online at www.blacksparrowmusicparlor.com or on the Black Sparrow Radio phone app.
Bagent had been thinking about starting a radio station inside the music parlor, but never had the time to do it. When Black Sparrow was forced to close March 17 due to the pandemic, Bagent started Black Sparrow Radio March 18. Within 24 hours, she had the equipment set up and already owned the name and software needed to get started.
"Black Sparrow Radio was an idea that was spawned about a year ago," she said. "I would sit behind the bar and draw up plans. It was something I wanted to see as an extension of what I did here."
The station began with Bagent and a three other DJs.
"The four of us kicked off the first show together. After that, each of us got our own show," she said. "Very quickly we went from a station with four DJs to a station with 18 DJs."
The content is a mix of music and talk radio. Bagent said most of the shows are focused on music where the DJ talks about the artist and their history. However, there are no shows that are pure music.
"About 40% of the shows are music based, but there is a narration where they are talking about the music and the bands," she said.
Shows range from political to gardening and more.
"Just like at the Black Sparrow Music Parlor, money is not being put at the forefront, freedom is," Bagent said. "It's independent radio. Because we're not funded by big corporations, we are able to say and do anything we want to do."
On Aug. 6, the show People and Politics with Ryan and Robert will premiere. Councilman Robert Garcia and Ryan Davenport having a political open forum live on the radio. The show will take place an hour before the city council meeting. The hosts will take calls from listeners and will also have guests from the community.
"It's brave but it's going to create an outlet," Bagent said.
She said every DJ has the freedom to do what they like as long as there is a disclosure at the beginning and end of the program that states their opinion does not reflect the opinion of KBSR.
"Even in the digital radio world, it's very unusual for this many people to come together and have the freedom to do whatever they want," she said. "It is impossible for terrestrial radio because the FCC monitors everything so closely."
Bagent plans to continue Black Sparrow Radio once it is safe for venues to open.
Once venues are allowed to reopen, Black Sparrow will begin hosting a quarterly members’ only events. These shows will be elite shows for people who are supporting the station now.
To help support Black Sparrow Radio, visit https://www.patreon.com/blacksparrow.
"KBSR, Black Sparrow Radio is 100% there for our community," Bagent said.