The Core Live is no longer Bakersfield’s best kept secret.
Broadcasting a multi-media blend of entertainment via their website thecorelive.com, their format-free buzz has been gaining steam since re-launching this past June.
"Our mix of reality TV, music and video is perfect for today's crowd," said Michael Urioste, who runs marketing and advertising for The Core Live. "I knew it was gonna be cool from the very beginning."
Started as an underground radio project between friends John Uranday and Phillip Zaragoza in 2000, the two originally stationed themselves in a small office above 19th and Eye Street downtown. Transmitting through now-defunct hosting website pixelradio.com as The Core, they managed to find themselves an audience during a formative time in Web radio.
"If you had a high-speed net connection, you could hear us pretty well, but a lot of people were still running slow 56k modems," said Uranday. "We built an audience through word of mouth and what I call hand-to-hand combat -- talking to people, passing out fliers. We had rap artists like Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan, and Jam Master Jay of Run DMC on the phone calling in. DJs would bring three to four crates of vinyl records and do their show."
Calling it quits after nine months due to lack of funding, they went their separate ways but remained in close contact. Zaragoza began working as an electrician, while Uranday pursued another passion: making movies. Attending the prestigious Los Angeles Film School in Hollywood from 2005 to 2007, Uranday also started his own film company, CUTM films, specializing in music videos, TV shows, and independent films aimed at urban audiences. With titles like "The 99 Cent Show," "Cruisin'," and "Stereotype," a 2007 film that reportedly moved over 25,000 DVD units through a distribution deal with Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, his entrepreneurial spirit helped establish him as up-and-coming independent entertainment producer.
"We did everything ourselves, with no marketing budget or promo. People just gravitated to the bins and bought the movie," Uranday said.
'We started building the first day'
Around that time, self-employed marketing guru Michael Urioste of Delano was developing websites for area businesses. While partnering with Uranday to help promote "Cruisin'" in 2009 through his own social networking site, 66one.com, future projects were always on the table, including reviving The Core.
"I started seeing all these FM radio stations switching to Internet streaming, because of the economy," said Urioste. "We all started throwing around ideas."
As the conversation intensified, so did the excitement.
"John and I used to bring up memories of The Core all the time," recalled Zaragoza. "It felt like the right time to do it. I knew we had to do something right now."
Purchasing the Web domain to secure an online destination -- Uranday, Urioste and Zaragoza immediately laid out their plans for a new 24-hour live streaming music and video website. Redubbing it, "The Core Live," they scored office space inside the old Costco complex on Rosedale Highway and went to work.
Accustomed to functioning on shoestring budgets, they pulled as much money together as they could. But thanks to Zaragoza's electrical skill and Uranday's media and computer expertise, the studio saw life in a matter of days.
"We started building the first day we moved in," recalled Uranday.
Debuting this past June through a new hosting site, Flash Web Town, The Core Live's studio set-up was, by commercial radio standards, pretty rough: One Web camera positioned in front of a graffiti-emblazoned wall, one microphone, a DJ, and a set of turntables. Sound quality was "good enough for the Web," as they say, but nowhere as clean as FM.
On-air talent was also a problem. While many of the regular station DJs were well- known in the scene, no prior experience was necessary to become a host. That opened the doors for an unusual cast of guests and sloppy production, which plagued them for the first few months. To avoid future problems, they introduced rules and expectations for talent.
"We started checking qualifications, and every DJ had to start submitting a mixtape in order to be considered," said Uranday. "It just took off so fast, people just started showing up. We finally had to turn people away."
'100,000 Web hits our first week'
The party had finally begun for The Core Live, but did anybody care? Looking into their early online streaming numbers, it was apparent someone was watching and listening.
"We were getting 100,000 Web hits our first week, and finding out that on average many visitors were staying logged in four to eight hours at a time," said Uranday. "I remember hoping for at least 50 visitors. Now our numbers are even bigger, especially on college campuses and military bases."
Six months after their launch, The Core Live continues to evolve. Now with three multi-angle high-definition cameras, upgraded software and familiarity with how to keep things operating smoothly around the clock, visitors to the site can check out music videos taken from Uranday's library and more. There's also the popular chat room where listeners can interact once they start their free online profile.
"We get people from everywhere in the chat rooms. Mainly the hardcore listeners, who have a favorite show," said Uranday.
Checking out their extensive list of eclectic programming, there are plenty of shows to choose from. From the morning comedic antics of the "Wake N Bake Show," to the weekend woman-to-woman advice show, "Juicy Girls," Uranday sees their success as a result of listeners becoming disenchanted with mainstream hip-hop and urban radio.
Pictured above from left: Joseph Gomez, Kimble Woods “24 KG”, and Luis Santoyo of The Core Live’s “Wake N Bake Show.” Photo by Matt Munoz
“I think commercial radio has reached a stagnant point. They don’t want to take chances anymore. How many times can you hear the same Eminem and Rihanna song? I’d much rather play an unknown artist than Lil’ Wayne.”
Asked about present funding for the station, Urioste says they still work mainly through donations but have attracted a small group of advertisers.
Picture above, some of The Core Live's on-air staff. Pictured in front row, from left: Phat E, 24KG, Phillip Zaragoza; second row: DJ Shag, Nicole "Mary Jane" Newman, Melody Symone, DJ Wyld One, DJ X-Ray; 3rd row: Just Macking, John Uranday, Michael Urioste; 4th row: Zapp Loc, DJ Redeemed, Joseph Gomez. Photo by Carly Watts, 2010
"People have really come together to help us out, and that's been a really positive thing," added Uranday. "Everyone donates their time."
Looking to 2011, the trio also plans on expanding into clothing circles. Remodeling their Chester Avenue location to make way for a hip-hop-themed clothing store inside, shows will soon be projected from storefront window displays.
"We'd like to be the MTV TRL of downtown Bakersfield," smiled Urioste.
The Core Live, 1823 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301
-The Inconvenient Truth / Mon - Fri. 6am - 10am
-The Wake and Bake Show / Mon - Fri 10am - 2pm
-Crook-Ed-Tatt Show / Mon - Fri 2pm - 6pm
-Caribbean Vybez / Tuesdays 6pm -10pm
-Old School and R&B / Tuesdays 10pm - Midnight
-Coach's Corner / Wednesdays 4am - 6:30am
-West Coast / Wednesdays 6pm - 10pm
-Frat House / Wednesdays 10pm - Midnight
-The Work Out Show / Thursdays 4pm - 7pm
-The MaryJane Show / Thursdays 7pm - 10pm
-What It Do Show / Friday 12am - 3am
-Coach's Corner / Friday 4am - 6:30am
-The Work Out Show / Friday 4pm - 7pm
-Flirtatious Fridays / Friday 7pm - 9pm
-Analog Revolution / Fridays 9pm - 11pm
-The Core Live remote from The Nile Bar, 1721 19th Street / Fridays 11pm - 2am
-Gospel Connexxion / Saturdays 8am - 12pm
-In Yo Face / Saturdays 12pm - 3pm
-Puro Pari / Saturdays 3pm - 7pm
-The 420 Mix / Saturdays 7pm - Midnight
-What It Do Show / Sundays Midnight - 3am
-Coach's Corner / Sundays 8am - 10am
-Neo-Soul / Sundays 10am - 2pm
-Chill n Grill / Sundays 2pm - 6pm
-The Interview / Sundays 6pm - 9pm
-The Juicy Girls / Sundays 9pm - 11pm
*Schedule subject to change, check website for updates.
*Story also printed in The Bakersfield Californian, 12-16-10
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