A show called Muster Radio that chronicles the fife-and-drum scene in the Connecticut River Valley might not sound like a surefire radio hit. But it is exactly the type of quirky show with a niche but incredibly passionate audience in which iCRV Radio specializes.
“Muster Radio does just shy of 20,000 listeners a month. It’s one of our more listened-to programs,” says David Williams, founder and owner of the internet radio station which is dedicated to deep dives into the culture, history and current arts scene of Connecticut’s River Valley. “Not too many people will serve up the bandwidth and the focus to some of these [topics], but we show them love and they show us so much love back, and it’s a lot of fun to see these shows come to life.”
The station, which streams round the clock except for a few hours each week for site maintenance, recently topped 900,000 monthly listeners (including more than 400,000 unique listeners a month), Williams says. Many listeners stream programs live as they would a traditional broadcast, others download shows podcast-style to their phones or computers. Each month more than 100 hours of original programming is produced by the station.
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Despite its internet delivery system, there’s a decidedly throwback feel to the programing. Offerings range from shows highlighting local musicians, artists and nonprofits to recurring shows on archaeology and antiquing. There is even a vintage-style radio drama called Colonized written by professor and author Wick Griswold about the founding of Connecticut.
Billed as the “The Stream Feeding the River Valley,” iCRV (the “i” stands for internet and CRV stands for Connecticut River Valley) will celebrate its five-year anniversary this May. Williams founded it in 2015 with a partner who is no longer with the company. Williams had the idea for the station after moving to the area from Princeton, New Jersey, in 2012. “[I was] finding it very difficult to get updated and current information on what’s going on in our broader Connecticut River Valley on a regular basis,” he says.
Williams had a 35-plus-year career in media, working in advertising sales and business development for networks like CNN, ESPN and the Home Shopping Network. To date, the station has produced more than 8,000 segments. All that programing has grown organically.
“The goal was always just to build a really good-looking lump of clay and let community shape it into what it could be,” Williams says.
The station was broadcast from Chester for its first year before moving to its current downtown Ivoryton studio. In addition to Williams, there is one other paid employee: Linda Reilly-Blue, who is a producer and host.
“We’re not designed to be a nonprofit but certainly could be characterized as not making any money,” Williams jokes. However, he notes that in recent months listenership has been increasing at a more intense rate, and people are becoming more familiar with the idea of a streaming radio station. “I didn’t realize how the story of internet radio just needed to sit with people for a while before they got excited about it from an advertising point of view,” he says.
In the meantime, Williams takes great pride in the fact that none of the thousands of listeners the station attracts each month find it by accident. “One hundred percent of our audience cares so much that they will initiate the search to find and engage with us,” he says.
Here’s a small slice of iCRV’s multifaceted programming:
Kitchen Outlaws: Mari Lee and Stacy Winchell cook up recipes and shopping tips.
Anything Automotive: Go under the hood with auto experts for everything from repairs and maintenance to hot car trends.
Antiques Trail: From estate sales to appraisals, host David Perrelli digs into the word of collectibles.
Connecticut River Drift: Professor Wick Griswold wades into all things related to the region’s defining feature.
For more information, go to icrvradio.com.