Call it a labor of love for Rob Galgano, 48, who set up his own radio station "All Over The Place" in the attic of his Westfield home. While he said it's been a lot of work, the former teacher and computer engineer wouldn't have it any other way.
A stay-at-home dad to a 14-year-old son, Galgano said starting at the age of six or seven, he has always managed to surround himself with music.
His first foray into broadcasting took place in the early 1980s when he worked as a disc jockey at his college radio station, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's WRPI in Troy, N.Y. He continued to pursue his love of music after returning to New Jersey, working at radio stations Homegrown Radio NJ.com in Blairstown and Hear New Brunswick.com.
But being able to play his favorite tunes on his own terms has been a dream come true for the music lover whose tastes tend to run "left of the dial," as The Replacements would say.
"It took me a while to realize it but basically I'm playing the soundtrack to my life here," said Galgano. "It's a lot of fun."
With the help of a software program, the SAM broadcaster, made by Spacial Audio, the station can run all day, Galgano explained.
Home broadcasters can set up playlists and upload music into the database and then set different formats.
Galgano, who devised three formats, shared his strategy.
"I have one I call 'Great Songs'—songs you know and songs you should know," he said. "A lot of it will be familiar but there are other songs from bands that I think deserve more exposure and I try to mix those in, too, and keep it pretty upbeat."
Another format called "This Decade" focuses primarily new and recent music from bands that Galgano thinks could use some additional airtime.
"Overnight I do something called 'Anything Goes,' where anything in the library can be played, and that's a wide-range," said Galgano, who noted that his musical library spans multiple decades.
"That's the local set-up, the SAM broadcaster. For the online service I use a company called Live365," he said.
The service costs about $350 per year and covers technical fees as well as royalties.
"A month or two ago, I took the station live full-time. I don't work on it all the time, but I add songs to the library gradually as we go. Sometimes I'll actually live DJ and step in and talk on the microphone," said Galgano. "Once you get it going, it's just a matter of curating the music and making sure everything is running smoothly."
So where does a housebound DJ go to find an alternative to the mainstream?
While the indie impresario said he tries to see live music when he can, most often he discovers new bands in the British press. Some of the groups he's uncovered and enjoyed this year include Twin Atlantic, Dutch Uncles, and The Chain Gang of 1974.
"I do like the classic stuff but what keeps it interesting for me is that, a lot of the popular stations are (focused on) the '80s and I find that so limiting," he said.
Galgano started doing a show called "New Wave Weekend" once in a while because it was something that he could relate to and he said he's finding that others enjoy it as well.
"My plan for 2012, if I can find the right venues, is to take this mobile. This fall I've been pursuing publicity and next year I want to get out and meet the people," he said.
Going forward, the alternative aficionado hopes to gain visibility by broadcasting at local events such as Union County Musicfest and Maplewoodstock or partner with a local spot like to get the word out about his endeavor.
Over the past few months things have been picking up in terms of listenership and hours listened, he said, with historic highs reached for AOTP.
"It's been pretty interesting and I feel pretty optimistic about the future. It's been only about a month or two that I've been pushing this really hard. I've been working social media. I have a Facebook page and a group and I tweet every tenth song."
Galgano espoused his taglines, which include, "It's bound to confuse as well as delight" and "A musical education in three hours or less."
The DJ said he wants to say to listeners "you can have your Biebers and Lady Gagas but here's some other great stuff."
Offering a middle ground between mainstream pop and classic rock, Galgano is forging a new musical path.
"I'm doing it primarily for me and if you want to come along for the ride, that's great, too," he said.
For more information about Galgano's radio station, visit http://aotpradio.com, The Great Leap Forward - mixing pop and politics since 2003, All Over The Place on Live365 or contact Rob Galgano at email@example.com