On an unseasonably warm October day, we headed to Lot Radio – an independent radio station spinning out of a reclaimed shipping container in an empty lot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, just a short walk from McCarren Park. The music streams 24 hours a day online, where you can also see what’s happening inside the DJ booth and can be heard through speakers on the lot itself. The pebble-filled lot is surrounded by a fence, but is activated through a counter coffee kiosk on one end of the container, where you can buy drinks and pastries. Then, you can sit on the chairs and tables (or lounge in a hammock), in the lot.
The 882 square foot vacant lot at 17 Nassau Avenue is actually privately owned, as we learned from the staff at Lot Radio and the station rents the property from the owners, identified as Nassau Triangle LLC on New York City government sites. Lot Radio is the brainchild of Franćois Vaxelaire, a Belgian transplant to New York City. He told artist Ronald Wimberly, who did a graphic illustration about Lot Radio that he saw a “for lease” sign” on the site, and “saw it as an opportunity to to pursue a passion and fulfill a need for the community.”
The music is curated by many different DJs throughout the day, with each day’s schedule on the website. There have been open slots, where anybody can come and spin for an hour. The coffee stand supports the radio station’s operating costs. Vaxelaire says, “I wanted to show that it’s still possible to do something alternative and independent in Brooklyn. Not everything is business.”
Inside the booth, yesterday
It’s a wonderful little spot, in a spot that still feels like the Williamsburg and Greenpoint of ten years ago – when forgotten patches of the urban landscape were reappropriated for purely community and creative reasons. We hope it sticks around.
Next, check out Radio Free Brooklyn, a station underneath a bike shop. Discover 10 of our favorite NYC-based podcasts.