It all began because there was nothing good to listen to on the radio...

Broadcasting from a converted warehouse in San Francisco, our high quality internet broadcasts reach around the world. Rusty Hodge, SomaFM's founder, had been experimenting with online radio since 1995. After helping other companies with their streaming media operations, he decided that no one was going to create the online radio station he wanted to listen to, so he did it himself.

We started testing the station in 1999, and officially launched SomaFM.com in February 2000. Drone Zone was our first station, Groove Salad our second, Secret Agent our third. Over time we would add more channels, now with over 20 unique channels available (plus several annual holiday channels, and more in the works and ready to go as our resources allow).

The station is going strong. We get over 5.8 million "listener hours" a month, which makes us one of the larger internet-only broadcasters. But we're not looking to increase our audience by playing more mainstream music. We look for music and formats that aren't available on commercial radio, or formats that are "not being done right" as Rusty puts it.

We have always believed that there are plenty of people out there who would really get into the music we play once they discovered us.

It seems that a lot of people agree, as we have garnered a lot of positive media coverage of SomaFM and had steady growth over the years.

What exactly is SomaFM?

We're a listener-supported, commercial-free internet-only radio station.

This means no advertising or annoying commercial interruptions. Our mission is to search out and expose great new music to people who otherwise may never encounter it.

Where does the name Soma come from?

It's a play on words. Soma is the name of many things, but in our case is based on the future's perfect pleasure drug and the fact that we started broadcasting from San Francisco's South of Market underground club area, known also as SoMa.

Who is behind SomaFM?

Rusty Hodge, General Manager and Program Director

Rusty is the founder of SomaFM as well as our General Manager and Program Director. He also is the music director for Groove Salad, Secret Agent, Drone Zone, Space Station Soma, Illinois Street Lounge and contributes to Cliqhop.

He got started in radio during high school by operating a neighborhood micropower station, and later started producing daily programs and making them accessible over a telephone hotline. Rusty got involved with computers while managing his college radio station in the early '80s, when he developed software on an Apple II for handling station playlists. His professional experience includes work at radio stations in the Los Angeles area (KWOW and KWIZ), developing software for broadcasters, multimedia, and founding Hodge Interactive to put radio and TV stations on the web. It was only natural that eventually he would start his own internet radio station.

Rusty has been collecting records since the mid '70s, bought his first ambient record in the '80s, and latched onto electronic ambient music right away when it started first appearing in the early '90s. Many of the records in his collection are now out of print and extremely hard to find. With the launch of SomaFM in 2000, Rusty's dream of his own station became a reality.

Roy Batchelor, Music Director, Boot Liquor

Roy Batchelor stumbled upon the format that comprises Boot Liquor via a circuitous route. Graduating from High School in the late '70s, radio stations throughout the country labeled his beloved music "classic rock" and conspired to play the same damn 20 songs over and over until he screamed in pain and was forced to find a new musical home. Fortunately, he discovered The Beat Farmers and, while mining all their various influences, realized that "country music" had been given an undeserved bad rap. Boot Liquor is proud to serve up songs about life, death, misery, broken hearts and broken bones.

Elise Nordling, Music Director, Indie Pop Rocks!

Elise Nordling came to SomaFM as the Music Director and DJ for Indie Pop Rocks! in 2001. Drawing on her many varied years of experience in the music industry, which include having worked as a record shop girl, music editor and reviewer, music festival employee, and for a digital music distributor, her passion for indie rock finds a perfect home at SomaFM.   Well-known within the San Francisco live music scene and indie rock scenes in general, she prides herself in finding the best new bands and artists to air on Indie Pop Rocks! long before they can be heard anywhere else.

Shawn Blosser, Music Director, Beat Blender

Shawn Blosser started BeatBlender in the waning days of the dotcom boom of the late 1990's. Coworkers loved the music he played in his office at work and in response to their enthusiasm, Shawn set up an office Shoutcast server so they could enjoy his musical selections around the clock. After a few months of independent operation, BeatBlender became a regular channel on SomaFM. All the music on BeatBlender is handpicked from Shawn's extensive private collection of CDs.

DJ Lucretia, Music Director, Doomed

Lucretia got her start in radio as a kid in the late 70s, playing punk rock on an underground station.  She went on to host a show at the highly-rated college station KFJC during the late 80s, where she was immersed in the exploding industrial music scene.  Her love of music dark and stompy had Lucretia spinning at the top San Francisco goth/industrial clubs all through the 90s, where she came to the attention of SomaFM's General Manager, Rusty Hodge.  After her retirement from club DJing, SomaFM invited Lucretia to present her brand of eerie music to Doomed, where she now hosts the scariest music broadcast around.

Michael Koperwas, Music Director, Covers

Michael's interest in covers started at a young age, and like all great things in life, should be attributed to the Simpsons. Sometimes it's a song that you always thought was the original, only to learn that it too is a cover; other times it's an entirely new take on a beloved standard or a respun pop tune.

Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Michael moved to SF a while back for a job in special effects: faking planet explosions and building giant furry green crab-lobster creatures. If you look closely, you might see his name in the credits for some of those fancy special-effect movies. (After all, he's got to pay the bills somehow.)

Nitya, Music Director, Sonic Universe

Nitya is originally from Minneapolis but has lived in Seattle for over 30 years. He grew up in a home where jazz music was always playing, and began collecting jazz albums at age 12.

Most of the music on Sonic Universe comes from Nitya's personal collection. In addition to his large CD library, he's developed relationships with artists who have provided him with rare live soundboard recordings. He attends local jazz festivals (Portland, Vancouver BC) and also regularly attends the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway. 

Ted Leibowitz, Music Director & Host, BAGeL Radio and 480 Minutes

Ted began DJing in his teens at nightclubs and college radio which led into promoting, booking, and managing bands, releasing records on his own label, and managing night clubs. After relocating to San Francisco, internet radio brought Ted back to his entertainment industry roots: DJing and bringing new music the to music-buying public. In early 2003 Ted launched BAGeL Radio to share his enviable music collection with the world (and to convey simple views like, "Media consolidation: bad. BAGeL Radio: good.").

Ted was twice honored with the College Music Journal (CMJ) Specialty Music Director of the Year Award, making BAGeL Radio the first internet radio station to win a CMJ award at the annual CMJ Music Marathon Awards in New York City. BAGeL Radio has been nominated as Best Online Station at the 2008 PLUG Awards. Ted was featured on the "Invasion of the New Media" panel at the CMJ NMM alongside representatives from ClearChannel, XM, and Sirius, and moderated a similar panel at the NEMO Music Festival in Boston. BAGeL Radio was honored with the Best Live Show award at the Best Of Live365 Awards.

Sean E. Sullivan, Folk Forward Music Director

Sean E. Sullivan is a musician and music lover of all types. He has been playing since the late 90's dabbling in piano, percussion, guitar, and electronic composition before recently settling with bass. As a founding member of San Francisco alt folk trio Rin Tin Tiger he understands the ins and outs of the underground bay area indie folk scene. Having toured up and down the west coast for years as well as managing the band he has met and performed with many great up-and-coming folk groups who are pushing the genre forward.

Milkman, Music Director, The Trip

Milkman's love of music started early in life. Constantly surrounded by the coma inducing music played by his parents, at the age of 10 a friend played a tape recording of WBMX, the radio station in not too distant Chicago. Having heard the frequency, he was able to get the family stereo to pick up the signal, and soon learned of the "Mix at Six," "After Eight," and of course the Friday and Saturday Night Live mixes. Every day now centered around these times and headphones. Sadly, the driving station of house music changed formats and started playing "oldies and dusties." A dark period ensued, the closest sound that could be found in the small college hometown was rap.... until the turn of millennium led to freedom again as a friend introduced a new concept called mp3 streams...and Milkman stumbled upon one stream in particular, Tag's Trip. Over the years, Tag would rely on Milkman to feed him great new music, and eventually Tag decided to retire and "pass the needle" to Milkman.

As life has gone on, The Trip has continued to be the source of motivation, energy, and joy, knowing how many other people are listening, sharing the love of music.

Jason Dryg, Music Research Librarian and Listener Relations

If you send something to SomaFM, or get something in the mail from SomaFM, Jason has probably touched it. He manages our 9000+ CD physical library and our even larger digital library. He's the assistant music director for Underground 80s and is also responsible for helping with many other channels at SomaFM.

Jason loves to down obscure, hard to find music. This is quite apparent on Underground 80s where Jason travels through the dark recesses of music blogs and collector message boards to find amazing artists that time forgot (or at least misplaced).

Apart from SomaFM, Jason is an artist and illustrator and a rabid vinyl collector.

Merin McDonell, Design and Marketing Director

Merin has been involved in SomaFM from its inception, working on logo design, web design, station logos, photography, marketing materials, press materials, and more. Who knew that hours spent in bars and clubs, listening to music and dancing, would actually turn out to be work experience? Merin's professional experience also includes work for McKinsey & Company, NASA Ames Research Center, and several internet start-ups.

Contributors

Jim Bilodeau, Imaging Producer

Jim has been toying with audio since he was a wee tyke trying to eat the microphone attached to his grandfather's camcorder in 1982. He's since been a slave to his ears. From performing in various musical ensembles in and around the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York to a Bachelors degree in Music Production from the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, CT, he's fortunately kept to a strict diet of transistors, compressors, encoders and transducers. He currently resides in New York City.

What kind of software and equipment do you use?

SomaFM uses Shoutcast servers, OtsDJ playout systems, Orban audio processors, Shoutcast MP3 stream encoders, and Orban Opticodec aacPlus encoders. 3GPP servers are Darwin Streaming Servers from Apple Computer. We use a combination of FreeBSD and Ubuntu Linux servers for stream servers and web servers, at various ISPs where we find good values on bandwidth. We operate a small data center out of 365 Main in San Francisco.

How big is your music library?

We have over 9000 CDs and 180,000 digital tracks in our primary music library, although many SomaFM music directors have personal libraries as well. From this, we select only the best tracks to play on SomaFM. In the last 2 years, we've played over 13,000 different artists on SomaFM.

So how do you guys stay in business?

We have to beg for money a lot! But most of our listeners value what we do.

We run our station on a very tight budget and rely on donations from listeners. We're lucky to have a lot of friends at indie record labels who have donated CDs for premiums or have let us include some of their music in our compilation CDs. And we're thankful to the folks at Shoutcast.com who have provided us additional streaming bandwidth in the past.

What can we expect in the future?

Our goal is to make SomaFM available in as many ways as possible - from internet radio, to cell phones and wireless devices, over the air and HD multicast radio, to satellite broadcasts. Wherever you are or whatever you're doing, we want to make SomaFM available to you.

Through SomaFM's partnership with various public radio stations, we're making our programming available over the air by providing a special version of Groove Salad for use on their HD multicast channels. KPBS-FM in San Diego is our premier public radio partner, broadcasting our programming on their HD3 channel.

We also plan to launch more channels and specialty on-demand and podcast programs. Since we have such a small budget, we have to move slowly. But because we don't have to answer to investors or VCs, we can broadcast exactly what we want to.

Thanks for listening, and remember...

SomaFM Loves You!!!!