Deep Ellum Radio has found a new home for their official recording studio at the Deep Ellum Community Center, which opened last September on Elm Street. The grand opening for the studio featured acoustic sets by local musicians Cameron Taylor, Micah Creel and Paco Estrada last Saturday – all musicians who had previously been part of the “Acoustic Chaos” events held by Deep Ellum Radio in the early days.
Founded in 2010, Deep Ellum Radio, a non-profit run by volunteers, has always been a labor of love.
Kim (Keebler) Owens started the project with co-founder Chad Lovell, musician (Course of Empire) and audio engineer. Lovell couldn’t be at the event Saturday due to medical issues stemming from a 2019 accident. He was missed by all who knew his deep ties to the project, and every person who spoke acknowledged him.
Deep Ellum Radio was originally hosted inside Owens’ brick-and-mortar art store In Accord, “but in 2015 we lost that space,” Owens said in an interview at the new studio grand opening. “Both finding a new studio and the DECA community center have been a 10-year dream. Last year in March, I gave Deep Ellum Radio to DECA [Deep Ellum Community Association]. The community is running it now.”
DER is now managed by a DECA committee, which includes (DECA president) Breonny Lee, Michelle McLaughlin, Frank Campagna, Paco Estrada, Roland Rangel, Mark Williams, and others.
Since 2015, DER volunteers and DJs were working off home equipment – sometimes even just a cell phone – and keeping Deep Ellum Radio alive. The new studio will give existing and new radio DJs the chance to use professional equipment, as well as a sense of community.
“It’s been a very grassroots operation; definitely a work in progress since Kim started over 10 years ago,” McLaughlin said, gesturing to Owens. “The advancement of technology has really helped.”
Owens has said that she plans to stick around to help train people to do what she’s done for the past decade and a half, as well as help oversee the restructuring process. The new version of the radio no longer has a program director, but instead several roles that take over certain days throughout the week to keep things on track.
“We also need to train DJs about how to go live,” Owens said. “Michael Roos is currently going live from [Cold Beer Company] on Sundays, and he’s volunteering to teach live coverage so the station can start going live on Thursdays from Deep Ellum venues.”
One main reason the radio project exists is to encourage people to support Deep Ellum venues and businesses. Since COVID, Deep Ellum clubs have seen another attendance dip, with gun violence and other crime chasing away both loyal and new patrons.
But there is a boisterous spirit that remains inside the heart of Deep Ellum. Each champion of the arts believes it takes a community to make things happen, and keep the historic neighborhood true to its roots.
“[The beginning] was when Deep Ellum was really down at the time,” Owens said. “Trees has just reopened, Three Links wasn’t even around yet. I was trying to get people to Deep Ellum. Everyone was helping each other out; everybody knew everybody. We were just joining Facebook, coming from MySpace,” Owens laughed. “Chad always said it’s been about the community, not about us.”
Deep Ellum Radio seeks volunteers. Current programming includes the [award-nominated] “Dallas Famous Podcast” by Andrew Sherman Sundays/Tuesdays at 1:00 PM, “Metal at Midnight” every day at midnight, “Journey of an Artist/Song” Sundays/Mondays at noon, North Texas Music Fanatics Tuesdays at 7:00 PM and Fridays at noon, and more.
“We’re not giving titles, we’re giving roles,” McLaughlin said. “It’s for the community by the community.”
Learn more, volunteer or listen to Deep Ellum Radio.
Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT.
Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.