The end is nigh for Hi-Five, Corben Winfield’s grilled cheese shop at 22 East Cordave in Gastown. He will shutter the tiny, gooey-giving, late night window-service operation in the last week of August. Instead of abandoning the space he’s turning it into the headquarters of an online radio station. Believe it or not, Winfield is more passionate about music than he is about grilled cheese sandwiches, so when he explained to me last week that he was partnering up with long-time musician friend Javan Avent and New York-based design Takaaki Okada to create No Fun Radio (NFR), it was quick to make sense.
Vancouver has a vibrant independent music scene with relatively little in the way of radio representation. While local music does get airplay, the economics of the medium don’t make things easy for stations that stray from the dictates of mass appeal. Since it’s so small (Hi-Five was originally a storage locker, all of 100 sqft!) with little in the way of typical radio station equipment overhead, NFR won’t have to give too many shits on that score. In that sense – and others – it’s similar to Amsterdam’s Red Light Radio and The Lot in Brooklyn, which is to say on the grassroots, pirate side of things and functioning bare bones out of a hole in the wall (The Lot, more accurately, operates out of a shipping container).
NFR won’t be genre specific, but it will be locally-minded. Aside from playing a lot of music, the new station will focus on collaborations, podcasts and live performances arranged and hosted by multiple program coordinators backed by social media, Android and iOS apps, and live video feeds (into what I can only imagine will end up being a comically cramped studio).
While I’m sad to see Hi-Five on its way out, I’m very glad that something interesting – and of potential benefit to the city’s cultural landscape – is replacing it. To paraphrase Morrissey, “There’s more to life than grilled cheese you know, but not much more…”
Look for NFR to launch at some point in September.