Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Out and About in the East Village

In this weekly feature, East Village-based photographer James Maher provides us with a quick snapshot of someone who lives and/or works in the East Village.

By James Maher
Name: Hannah Rad
Occupation: Radio Presenter, DJ, East Village Radio (Thursdays, 6-8pm)
Location: EVR, 1st Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets
Time: 6:15 on Thursday, Aug. 1

I’m from a suburb about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh. It was a small, kind of farm country area. Right before I moved here after graduating college in 2004, my sister and I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. We stopped in the gift store and they had this massive record sale. I grabbed a handful, and out of every record I could have picked out, I was like, “Oh, the New York Dolls.” I had no idea what they even sounded like, but I wanted to seem really cool when I got to New York and I thought this is going to be the album that does it. And then I come to find out years later that it’s truly such a vital piece of the East Village history and the entire New York music scene. It was those guys in bouffants on that cover that just made it for me.

Coming here was quite the culture shock. I don’t know that I ever considered moving to the city when I was younger, but I knew that I needed to get out of where I was from. I had a tough time when I first moved here. I hardly knew anyone. The first year or so I was like, “Do I belong here and is this where I need to be?” And then I started venturing out more and kind of getting lost in the city. I always found myself gravitating around this area. And now that I’m here I can’t imagine being any place else.

My first job was with a hotel company doing hospitality. It had nothing to do with my field of expertise — graphic design and communications, although that’s become pretty much antiquated now. It seems like everything I learned in college you can do with an app now. What is my degree worth now? Nothing. And I turned that into a design job. I was like, “Listen, I can do this, this and this but I can also do your design,” which eventually took me to working with a number of magazines and art directing. Then I landed at a job at Clear Channel, doing design for them. So I got pretty connected within radio, although EVR and Clear Channel had nothing to do with one another.

I had a lot of free time in between design projects, so I had amped my game up — I was writing a music blog, and it really took off at that time. One of the hosts on EVR, Jason Eldridge, who hosts Accidental Rhythm, had become a fan and we had communicated a little bit but we had never met. And then he emailed me out of the blue one day and said, “You know, I’m going to be out of town for 4 weeks, do you want to fill in?”

After a few weeks, they gave me my own show, and a few months after that they asked me to work here full-time. In that respect, I was able to fuse what I was doing with my blog and transfer that to the EVR site in terms of ramping up the content.

My show is from 6-8 pm on Thursdays. I play a lot of music from the UK and I try to break new artists. I’m taking newer acts and still using this platform and this area and name, this East Village stamp of approval, and saying, you know, we’re still fostering and cultivating new talent. It’s still a creative area.

I love working in the booth. I had been in the habit of leaving the door open when I first started the show. It gets a little weird at times. One of the more memorable moments was when this guy walked by, and I was like, “Oh shit, I think this is Howard Stern right now” and the guy comes in. He looks and sounds exactly like him and he hands me a card — he’s a Howard Stern impersonator. He had the voice and the look. So I put him on the mic and he was like, “Hey this is Howard Stern, East Village Radio.” That’s just one of the typical characters who walk by at any given time.

[Madonna was] my initial introduction to the East Village while growing up in rural Pittsburgh. I knew Madonna had been in this area on East 4th street when she was getting started. She just celebrated the 30th anniversary of the debut album, which excites me. I love reading the story of her just hanging out on a fire escape and just seeing those pictures. It’s just awesome to see that stuff, someone that you idolized so young and you see the progression where they’ve went, and you think, well maybe that will be me.

James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.


Anonymous said...

Even in Bloomberg's Nanny State NYC can be a difficult place to live and work. Congrats to Hannah for coming here and making a name for herself.

Sammy said...

Cool kid and I wish her all the best, but one clarification: if you're a half hour south of Pittsburgh you are in farm country, not the suburbs.

Anonymous said...

Graphic design. The Sociology degree of the 90s and 00s.

VH McKenzie said...

Nice one, James - and happy you're in the neighborhood, Hannah Rad!