February 2013 - SF Weekly
On February 1, 2003, Ted Leibowitz started Bagel Radio, an indie rock station streaming online from a laptop. Ten years later, he's still at it -- and still broadcasting from an aged MacBook in his Glen Park apartment. He's broadcasting right now, in fact, hosting the 10th Anniversary edition of his show 480 Minutes, which he streams live every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And tonight (Feb. 1), Leibowitz will celebrate with a party at Bottom of the Hill, featuring local bands Mister Loveless, Churches, and Birdmonster. A lot has changed since Leibowitz began in 2003: The once-small community of Internet radio DJs now competes with streaming services like Rdio and Spotify, in addition to online giant Pandora. But Bagel Radio is holding strong at about 40,000 listeners per month, and Leibowitz says he isn't worried about any competition. "People listen to me and hosted radio because they want to hear why they're going to like something, and they also want to hear stuff like, 'Alright, this next set, all three of these songs were written about the same girl,'" Leibowitz says. "Without the human element of curation... I don't think that they're a threat." One thing hasn't changed: Leibowitz's show remains focused almost solely on indie rock. And even though he admits to checking out other sounds once in a while -- he even confesses to listening to a bit of classical music before bed -- he's still as interested in guitar bands as ever. "Rock is my thing," Leibowitz says. Asked whether rock is as vital now as when he started Bagel Radio -- or when he came up as a DJ in the '80s and '90s -- Leibowitz answers quickly. "Absolutely," he says. "I'm astounded by how much great stuff I find every single week, most weeks." Bagel Radio isn't a job -- it's a labor of love, one that Leibowitz spends at least 20 hours a week putting together. On days when he isn't broadcasting live, Leibowitz assembles playlists -- all of them unique -- to keep the station humming along 24/7. It takes hours of listening to promos, skimming through songs and albums for suitable songs. Perhaps the biggest indication of how much Leibowitz loves the project is his listening policy. "I listen to everything, absolutely everything," he says. "Even if there's a guy in a 10-gallon hat on the cover and I know it's going to be country and I don't play country. If I ever have a week where 10 percent of what I listen to makes it into rotation, that's a very happy week."
January 2013 - SF Station
Ten years ago Bagel Radio was just a brainchild in the mind of Ted Leibowitz. After expanding to reach listeners in 150 countries, the San Francisco-based online radio station celebrates it's 10th anniversary on February 1. No one was more shocked by the expansion than Leibowitz, who never thought his indie rock station would explode so quickly. The rapid growth started in 2003. "At that point it was just a hobby," Leibowitz said in a statement. "The station was only playing artists whose names began with the letters A through J because I hadn't yet digitalized half my music library." Leibowitz has since gained many accolades, including an award for best live show by Best of Live 365 Awards, hew was twice honored with the College Music Journal (CMJ) Specialty Music Director of the Year Award and he has been featured in the New York Times, Wired Magazine and ABC News. He teaches a class at San Francisco State University called "Blogs, Podcasts, and Internet Radio," and DJs his own show on Bagel Radio called, "480 minutes" every Friday from 9am-5pm. Bagel Radio recently teamed up with SomaFM, expanding their goal of promoting live in-studio performances and live music shows. "For years we've been trying to figure out a way to make Bagel Radio a part of SomaFM," said founder Rusty Hodge. "Ted is extremely independent and he's not willing to work with broadcast groups that might control or restrict what he does. That's our mantra here at SomaFM; we're fiercely independent. We're also super-selective about new programming, and Bagel was a perfect fit with the depth and variety of his music mix." Leibowitz is celebrating Bagel Radio's anniversary February 1 with station favorites Mister Loveless, Churches and Birdmonster at Bottom of the Hill. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and the show starts at 8:30 pm.
January 2013 - The Bay Bridged
BAGeL Radio is moving into double digits, and the man behind the vision, Ted Leibowitz, is throwing one helluva party. The host of the Glen Park-based indie rock Internet radio show recruited three great Bay Area acts - Mister Loveless, Churches, and Birdmonster - to help celebrate his baby's tenth birthday at Bottom of the Hill on Friday, February 1st. The show is being produced in conjunction with SomaFM, the "listener-supported, commercial-free, underground/alternative" Internet radio station that broadcasts BAGeL Radio along with nearly 20 other unique stations. Admitting in a Facebook post that he booked "a far better lineup" than he had hoped for, Leibowitz noted that the show's venue - the seminal SF club at the base of Potrero Hill - is his favorite place to see a live gig. Fitting then that he should land some of his favorite bands to help him celebrate a decade at the helm of one of the Bay's most influential sources for independent and alternative music. Natives of Walnut Creek transplanted 15 miles west in O'aktown, Mister Loveless are coming off a whirlwind 2012 that saw the release of their full-length record Grow Up, a stunning vision of post-punk that helped vault the quartet into the Bay Area indie rock stratosphere, garnering them accolades from both local and national media, including the #9 spot on BAGeL's year-end best albums list. Check out the locally-flavored ode to their East Bay roots "Bridged And Tunnel Kids": Churches - the relatively nascent trio consisting of Caleb Nichols (Grand Lake, Port O'Brien), Pat Spurgeon (Rogue Wave), and Dominic East (Rogue Wave, Our Lady of the Highway) - released its eponymous debut EP back in April of last year and then dropped Lovelife, a two track 7-inch featuring a title track that arose out of Nichols' "frustration at having his personal life and the personal lives of all LGBT people constantly subject to public debate." B-side "Save Me" made its way to #13 on BAGeL's list of 2012's best songs. Listen below. SF stalwarts Birdmonster (who headlined BAGeL's "Half Dozenth Birthday Party" back in 2009) continue to shake out the cobwebs, playing another local gig after a 2012 that saw them begin their Singles Project, a collection of tracks recorded in bits and spurts during the years since their last proper release. Most recently, they put out two versions of the song "I Am The Wind", including the "inversion" version. Head over to Bottom of the Hill on February 1st to check out these three great local bands and to celebrate a big milestone for Leibowitz and BAGeL Radio. Doors open at 8:30pm, and the music kicks off at 9:30pm.
May 2008-SF Weekly
These days, music fans have way too many people clamoring for their attention. MP3 blogs, Pandora, and weekly newspapers (oops!) all tug at listeners' elbows, insisting their opinions are the most reliable. That's why it's nice to have someone you can trust, like Ted Leibowitz of local Internet station BAGeL Radio. For the last four years, Leibowitz has been broadcasting from his S.F. home, carefully selecting the best in current and old-school guitar-driven rock. He occasionally peppers his shows with some hip-hop and electronica as well, but it is the rock in which he excels. During his eight-hour live show every Friday, he culls tracks from his ever-growing collection, playing everything from local upstarts Empty Rooms, buzz band Vampire Weekend, and elder statesmen Pixies and Rolling Stones. Thanks to Leibowitz, listening to radio is fun again.
March 2008-SF Weekly
I am just old enough to remember real radio. When I say "real," I mean radio that was largely DJ-driven: DJs made the playlists, DJs told you why they played certain tracks, DJs made up special funny names for their shows as they saw fit, and most of all, you could hear in DJs' voices how much they loved music.
When I meet Ted Leibowitz at the Lucky 13, he acts like a real DJ from the get-go. He programs the jukebox immediately: The Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer" blasts out first. "I can't stand dead air," he admits. Leibowitz is the proprietor of BAGeL Radio, a local Internet station he has run from his Richmond District home since 2003. I consider www.bagelradio.com a real radio station, and Leibowitz something like our own John Peel, the famous English radio man whom so many credit with introducing them to their favorite music. Through Leibowitz' show, I've discovered everything from Kelley Stoltz and James to Tapes 'n' Tapes and the Bravery. Nate Grover, lead singer of San Francisco rock act Love Is Chemicals, puts it bluntly: "Most of my favorite new finds from the last two years or so have been bands I heard first on BAGeL Radio, and I'm not the only one."
The BAGeL shows — really one big 24-hour show, since Leibowitz does all the programming — are eclectic, carefully balanced patchworks of new local and national indie rock acts alongside the classics, strung together with the DJ's enthusiastic descriptions. "Sometimes people [write in to] say, 'Shut up and play music,' but this is my forum," he explains. And then, he says, there are the e-mails from musicians, who send messages to the effect that "You played us on Friday and we got all these sales over the weekend."
Listeners write in from all over the world, soaking up BAGeL's San Francisco indie-rock sensibilities. Leibowitz can even be credited with playing a part in the popularity of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: "I downloaded those [first] three songs, and was playing them and talking about them before they had an album out," he says. Ditto the Silversun Pickups.
Grover adds that his band had been playing dive clubs for years, and "it wasn't until Ted and a handful of people like him started to care about us that anything began to happen."
Unsurprisingly, musicians love and trust him: "One time, a couple of the Birdmonsters stopped by with 22 songs they'd just recorded!" Leibowitz laughs. "That is a joy of the station, that local bands that listen come in."
This from a guy who gets 200 CDs a month in the mail and listens to all of them. Grover calls him "the magus."
A recent BAGeL Radio-sponsored show at Bottom of the Hill is packed with listeners who look genuinely happy to be there. Leibowitz is one of them. HIJK takes the stage playing its signature mathy pop-rock, and towards the end of the set, Leibowitz makes his way over to tell me the band has just covered a song by the headliner, Love Is Chemicals. It turns out Leibowitz has been trying to get bands to cover each other at the same show for years, and he's practically jumping up and down, he's so excited. He doesn't have much time to talk, though, since he's constantly besieged by fans who want to slap his back or hug him. This is the man, after all, who puts new great music into their ears, who can tell them why they're going to like something they've never heard — the way real radio should.
Ted Leibowitz is most famed for his DJ’ing at indie rock station BAGeL Radio, but he’s also a blog guru of sorts. He teaches a San Francisco State class on blogging, writes for the blog State of the Day, and, of course, runs the official BAGeL Radio blog.
Listening to indie genius DJ Ted spin live at shows around town or online at his CMJ award–winning site BAGeL Radio sounds just like listening to your iPod on shuffle—if your iPod had magically been filled up with stuff you always wish you owned or didn’t know about yet but will later want to own. Oh, and if the shuffle feature had been refined so that it also miraculously skipped over anything embarrassing or anything you regret buying that’s lurking in your music library.
Broadcasters of various sizes have been rallying support in Congress to supersede the panel’s decision. “If [the Copyright Royalty Board rate hike] stands, then we’re all done for,” said Ted Leibowitz, a software engineer and founder of BAGeL Radio (bagelradio.com), an online service specializing in indie rock that he runs from a bedroom in his San Francisco apartment. For listeners, he said, the loss of potential choices would be akin to what satellite TV subscribers would face if their satellite crashed. “What people will be offered will be one one-thousandth of what they’re offered today,” he said.
"Our program continues with independent webcaster Ted Leibowitz of BAGeL Radio. He's counted as an important music tastemaker...in the music world, you're a big shot."
Ted Leibowitz is one of tens of thousands of Internet DJ's protesting a 300-percent increase in royalty fees. Like most Internet radio programmers, Leibowitz does this for the love of music -- in his case, independent rock bands that don't get played on mainstream stations.
Ted Leibowitz, BagelRadio.com: "You're going to go from having this multitude of choices to having almost none."
Leibowitz fears that small operators like him can't afford the recent royalty fee hike. He estimates it will cost him tens of thousands of dollars.
However, the steep hike could force him to hang up his headphones.
Ted Leibowitz: "If my station goes away and all the other stations that play these small subsections of music, all that's going to be left is FM, and clearly there is a market for more than what is on FM."
Ted Leibowitz is the poster child for the latter category, turning San Francisco indie rock Internet station BAGeL Radio from something to entertain a few of his friends into a station with 40,000 listeners per month and an international following. (He still runs it from the spare room of his Richmond District apartment.)
Leibowitz said his site is artist-friendly, populated by listeners who are looking for new sounds and are likely to buy an album or attend a show. His point is proved two minutes into an interview, when he's interrupted by a local band member knocking on his door to drop off some new music in hopes of airplay.
If the royalty board's decision stands, Leibowitz says it will do a huge disservice to artists and listeners.
"Let's say right now you have cable in your house with 125 channels, and then the cable suddenly goes out, and all you have left is the networks that you can get with rabbit ears," Leibowitz said. "It will look like that, except 100 times the scale."
Net radio launches artists, says Ted from Bagel Radio. He points to Silversun Pickups, an alternative rock four-piece from Silver Lake, Los Angeles, that was his band of the year in 2005. "I saw them play to like 16 people at Slim's in 2005. Thisyear I saw them play to a crowd of 30,000 at Coachella."
For the past four years, self-professed music snob Ted Leibowitz has supplied indie rock fans with an alternative to the preprogrammed "rock" fed by corporate radio. His San Francisco-based Internet station, BAGeL Radio, streams on Live365, iTunes, and, most recently, Lala.com, allowing more fans to tune in to bands like the Shins, Jesus & Mary Chain, Rogue Wave, and Cat Power. To boot, Leibowitz touts Bay Area favorites alongside the staples. For the station's fourth anniversary blowout, Birdmonster, Division Day, and Two Seconds will profess their gratitude. So should you. Thursday, February 8 at Bottom of the Hill in SF. 9 p.m., $10 BottomoftheHill.com. (K.R.)
December 20, 2006
"It's no wonder that DJ Ted has captured this award two years running. By bridging the gap between the virtual world and live venues, he's proven that indie music has no boundaries. This is especially meaningful by Bay Area Standards: as one reader put it, "he has the platform to do whatever he wants and play what he wants without corporate hoopla driving a bottom line." With remote broadcasts from such far-flung places as Boston, Austin, NYC, Nagano, and Oslo; on-air performances from the freshest underground acts; and intelligent curating of live shows in the best venues in town, Ted is both impresario in a competitive arena and ambassador of the Bay Area's indie music scene. Log on for"480 Minutes" and find out why the world is a little less corporate and a lot more loud."
BAGeL Radio nominated for Best Internet College Station
...it was Ted [Leibowitz] the owner of San Francisco's BAGeLRadio.com, who convinced the booker to give Birdmonster its first big break, and opening gig for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
April 9, 2006
"We call Ted daily," Winter says.
December 14, 2005
"Savvy indie-rock fans have singled out SF-based internet station BAGeL Radio as their choice for the best noise pop without the crap. Friday's host (and site-launcher) Ted has garnered the most passionate accolades; one reader modestly gushed that he is "the best DJ in the entire world!!!!" Four exclamation points is high praise indeed. Whether on his webcasts, podcasts, or through the live shows he books throughout the Bay Area, Ted has attracted national awards and attention, but our readers can rightfully claim that they found him first."
"Hipsters, rejoice! Stay on top of the indie rock scene with this 24/7 Internet station based in San Francisco. Direct your audio player to www.bagelradio.com for the best in noise pop sans annoying morning-show jocks."
October 11, 2005
"Bagel Radio, a Live365 station out of San Francisco, keeps getting props — most recently, CMJ honored Ted Leibowitz with its Specialty Music Director award. Every Friday, Leibowitz broadcasts online live from his vast record collection. The rest of the week, the music streams from a pool of hundreds of tunes. Bagel Radio might take you back with Bauhaus, the Pixies, or T-Rex, hip you to buzz bands such as Cloud Cult or Wolf Parade, or mix things up with hip-hop and electronica. Most important, Leibowitz gives Bay Area music to the world. Bands such as the Ex-Boyfriends, Birdmonster, and Hijack the Disco get their due, and Leibowitz posts podcasts and photos from shows on his blog."