Not For Air Podcast Brings Florida's Musical Underground to the World
|Tessa Bird Photography|
Justin "McPatches" Jordan is a born and raised Florida boy with a passion for something most of us forgot about somewhere around middle school: Radio. A fan of local radio since he was a kid, Justin got his first real taste of the airways in 2008 as part of the promotions team at JACK FM in Vero Beach. He cut his teeth by helping out on remote events, setting up the DJ equipment and editing the audio to go on air.
While on the hunt for his next radio gig, McPatches ran into a tech-savvy friend and indulged her in his all too common "in-between jobs" woes. She suggested that in the meantime, Justin could sharpen his on-air skills with a podcast to practice and stay busy. Still a radio traditionalist at the time, this marked the first occasion he heard the word "podcast" and was introduced to the digital medium as a way to produce a radio show. Armed with a few tips to get started, as well as everything he learned working at JACK FM, a podcast was born. After a few weeks online and a drunken YouTube night that lead to the name "Not For Air Radio," South Florida received its first underground radio show, and two years later the hit podcast is stronger than ever.
The real wacky and impressive thing about Not For Air is that Justin is just a guy with a day job at a retail store and a long-term dream to make it big in radio. He spends the majority of his week recording, editing, promoting (he calls it "whoring himself out"), and daydreaming about crafting a show that means something to him and his listeners. "The job really doesn't stop," he said. Justin has never seen one single cent from producing Not For Air, there is absolutely no budget, he has funded all the recording equipment himself, and there is no charge to listen.
So what is Not For Air? It's got a talk-about-anything radio format, but they feature Floridian and underground artists from around the country. Justin keeps it all about the music, "I'm not in a band, I don't know how to play an instrument, I'm just a fan." He defines "underground" as "The stuff you don't get to hear all the time, the real backbone of local music. It doesn't have to be punk, it doesn't have to be metal. It's just the DYI music you don't normally hear. Someone needs to support the little guy."
But of course, Justin couldn't create all this mayhem on his own. Since day one, co-host Matt Hickman has played the angry guy to Justin's straight man, ranting and raving on air about whatever they want. After inviting friend Matthew Ferry to join them for live commentating at a wrestling event, he quickly joined the motley crew and was soon followed by his wife, Jordan, who adds the necessary female touch. The Not For Air team has continued to grow with no bounds in site. Interview video guy Justin Spraur and even local photographer Tessa Bird lend their skills to the cause.
Justin is continuously impressed by his growing cast. "When we are all together, it works really well. We are able to bounce off of each others' styles and create our own."
In the two years since its spontaneous start, Not For Air's listener base has grown just like a bruise when you hit your knee: Immediately and apparently. Besides streaming on their official website and Bandcamp, Not For Air has picked up enough buzz to be a feature on online stations around the country. The podcast streams on PoDunk Radio out of the glamorous city of Paris, Texas, on Thursday nights, and Fridays on Rok Out Radio, which Facebook fans recently voted "Underground Radio Station of the Year" and broadcasts out of Michael Scott's hometown, Scranton, Pennsylvania. On-the-go workin' folk who still enjoy a good head bang can even listen on their smart phone with the Tune In app.
Justin thinks having users more geographically spread out leads to better content. "We have listeners from all over, not just locally. People hear us and write in about their favorites so we can get the bands out there."
Not For Air is as underground as it gets, so what could Justin possibly think about the Man's radio? "A lot of people think that because I'm underground I must be anti-mainstream radio, but I'm not because it is still radio and I love it. If it's in the right hands, it's good! But when corporations are in charge, they play crap and that's the problem. Regular radio used to be a place to get heard. Now, they leave no room for local bands or anyone starting out and just play the same songs over and over again. The main problem with a mainstream station is that even if it has all the support in the world, someone from corporate can come in and turn it off. That won't happen to me. I won't let it happen."
Justin, Matt and the rest of the Not For Air fleet celebrated their two year anniversary on August 4th and aren't showing any signs of slowing down. They plan on taking on new sponsors, creating more video content, and even traveling to take the show on the road. All with one goal in mind, to get noticed by more people so they can help out underground bands.
Justin knows he's created something important, and is ready for the long haul. "I found one thing I am really good at, and I am going to keep doing it. I just want to hang out and play music."