When you walk into an NYC bodega, for a moment, the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple are quieted.
As the door shuts behind you everything seems less important. Closed in, your mind tries to process what’s going on.
The sight of all the various products stocked on shelves, behind the counter, and tucked behind transparent refrigerators cause your eyes to dart in search of what you need.
A smell of steaming hot and fresh, cooked food, in metal trays whisps around your curious nose. And the sounds of rich Latin-American culture fill your ear with busy horns and rattling maracas.
After you leave your neighborhood NYC bodega, the music you heard in there still echoes through your thoughts. You catch yourself humming a tune you’ve only heard one time.
Chances are that the tune you can’t get out of your head was a song played on La Relambia FM 94.1.
Geovanny Valdez, aka DJ Jova, started the La Relambia radio station eight years ago. It started out as a passion project that now reaches thousands of radio listeners within a ten-mile broadcasting radius and has more than 40,000 web visits per day.
In an extensive interview with Vice, Valdez explained that he was working in a warehouse in order to support his passion for his homeland’s, the Dominican Republic, music. Before La Relambia hit FM radio, Valdez was producing his show on the internet.
By saving money for equipment from his warehouse job and renting out his uncle’s D&D Deli and Grocery, located near the intersection of Linwood Street and Belmont Avenue in Brooklyn, Valdez has become half president of the Solangie Deli Corporation and the director of La Relambia.
In the interview with Vice, Valdez said,
“The funds I got working in the warehouse helped me buy the equipment for the station little by little. But it’s still not finished… The space in the bodega was rented to me by my uncle, who liked the project and offered me that small and humble place to make our radio booth. Since then, I have been half president of the Solangie Deli Corporation and the director of La Relambia.”
Besides playing the dopest tipíco, bachata, and underground Latin songs, La Relambia, a Dominican term for attention seeking fool, is a fun listening experience. Valdez and his crew take the time on their “El Cocotazo Radio Show” to poke fun and make jokes.
But for Valdez, the music, watching the way people react to the songs he selects, and speaking to a mass audience is the best part of the running his radio station. In the Vice interview, he said,
“The best part of this is to be able to speak to a mass audience. I love to talk, interact, and take calls. The music is what is important too and to see how the audience is reacting to the songs that we play on air is what makes my day.”
Catering to a Latino culture that needs to stay present in NYC is important to Valdez too. Vice addressed the issue of gentrification in Brooklyn and how Valdez expects to combat that and continue the growth of his audience. Valdez responded,
“We cater to majorities of Latinos and that’s how we keep our base interested. Instead of listening to the most popular songs of Latin music, you’re hearing music that you wouldn’t have listened too otherwise. Like we play Mexican music, Ecuadorian music, Colombian music… These are the nationalities that don’t get represented a lot on mainstream Latin music radio stations. There will always be Latinos in Brooklyn. We aren’t worried.”
La Relambia Radio and Valdez are for the Kulture. For Christ sake, the man is operating a poppin’ Latino radio station out of bodega in Brooklyn.
It really doesn’t get any more gracefully urban than that.