Thursday, January 13, 2000

The hottest bands in NY(Street)

The Grammy Awards show isn't until February 23rd, but I could hear the announcer already saying with bated breath, "…and the winner for the Best Online Radio Station DJ is…" when the other announcer picks up without skipping a beat, "Maria Chambers!"

VH1 is the pace car now in the online radio station race. And their Mario Andretti is Maria Chambers, a veteran DJ who has landed the plumb, but challenging, role of being the first solely online radio DJ. Since November, when they relaunched the site, she's been filling the five-hour time slot with top programming and inspirational dialogue. Her enthusiastic energy bubbled over (but didn't spill into my drink) as she talked about opportunities to listen to new music, plan segments and the fun she has as she listens to bands jam during an interview.

My education of this vivacious woman occurred at VH1's website relaunch/holiday party on January 13 at ACME Underground. Being busy with work and holiday madness, they never had the chance to celebrate their new site, designed by Funny Garbage, nor toast to the holidays. So, now, taking a breather from it all they pulled together their gritty downtown party. This combined celebration was the culmination of employees at VH1 and Viacom who traded emails about their favorite street bands. These lucky musicians were the night's entertainment. Jim Ledbetter, NY bureau chief, and Matthew Yeomans, website columnist, of "The Industry Standard" came to have a toast and listen to the bands too. Ian Harrison, director of programming for VH1 at Work, the online station, was equally effervescent as he enjoyed a smoke and brew with Scott Reich, live events producer. Mark Feingold, designer, and Jenn Gershon (in the legal department) were both their with fellow VH1 colleagues enjoying the band. The older African American bass player lead normally plays alone on the street. Tonight, he brought a full backup crew of younger, talented players. While the heady jazz tunes enveloped the guests, the musically inclined network grooved mellow-ly as the bitter cold winds set in.