For years the little triangle of land between Nassau Avenue, Banker Street and North 15th Street was home to a couple of weather beaten RVs and tumbleweeds of trash. Then one day, multimedia producer Francois Vaxelaire saw a sign. It was both a fateful one and a literal one, posted on the building across the street advertising the plot of land for rent. He had a vision flash before him that he needed to rent the land and launch an internet radio station.
After nine months of wrangling plans with the city, his dream is finally live. The Lot Radio, a radio station and coffee kiosk inside a shipping container, officially opened a few weeks ago. “I was worried the city would say no, and I’m so happy it worked out,” he says.
The station has programming 24/7, though at the moment DJs are spinning on air from about 9am to midnight each day. On their site there’s streaming video of what’s going on inside the booth, and via their app you can stream just the music alone.
“I don’t want to work with any brands,” Vaxelaire says, noting that they wanted to keep their branding as clean as possible. Their logo is simply a triangle that replicates the land’s shape with The Lot Radio set in all caps. And there’s power in the uncomplicated and iconic design of the big black box itself, which was crafted in Long Island. The Lot Radio is meant to be “self-sufficient” and able to fully sustain itself financially with the coffee kiosk. He vows that there will never be any advertising or partnerships associated with the station, and adds that, “It’s not a pop-up,” so there are plans to keep it running for a very long time.
Vaxelaire’s first passion has always been music, and though he does DJ occasionally he says you’ll never see him behind the decks save for rare events or season launch parties. “The radio is not my radio,” he insists, “It’s the sum of all the DJs involved.”
Located at the Williamsburg/Greenpoint nexus and surrounded by a church, school and a warehouse, it feels like a natural place to bring a diverse group of locals together. Vaxelaire wants it to be an inclusive space that a wide range of neighborhood folks can enjoy, not just DJ groupies—whether it’s a mother with a child or the priests across the street or the fireman that regularly stops by, he wants it to truly feel like a community gathering spot.
Looking out from the DJ booth there’s an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline, something that’s in short supply with the wealth of new construction springing up in the area. Vaxelaire’s intentions for The Lot are earnest and honorable: “I wanted to prove we could do something else in Williamsburg, something else in Brooklyn that’s not a fancy beer garden or a restaurant or whatever. It’s about music and culture.”
The Lot Radio’s coffee kiosk is open on weekdays from 8am to 6pm, and on weekends from 10am to 6pm. You can stream music on their site or via the app 24/7. They’re located at 17 Nassau Avenue in Williamsburg.