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Max Bowen from Citywide Blackout on Boston Free Radio

This week we talk with Max Bowen about his great show and podcast “Citywide Blackout”, his take on the indie world landscape and what makes him tick.

Radio Dj Max Bowen

Ghost: Hi Max, could you tell our readers about you and what you do?

Max: Sure, I'm the host and founder of Citywide Blackout, a weekly podcast focused on artists of all kinds. My guests include writers, filmmakers, and authors from around the world. I also cover a lot of the cons and festivals around the New England area, including Boskone, Rhode Island Comic-Con, and the Boston Asian American Film Festival.

Ghost: When did you start Citywide Blackout and what motivated you to do it?

Max: I'm friends with a lot of Boston musicians, and saw how they struggled to get any media attention for the work they did. I have a background in journalism and a love for radio, so when I saw an ad for an online station looking for new hosts, I jumped at the chance to try something new and help my pals. I started the show in 2009 and it grew over the years with new co-hosts and an expanding array of guests. What started as a 15-minute music spot is now a two-hour program featuring artists of all kinds.

Ghost: Did you have prior experience in radio before that?

Max: None and was in fact almost pathologically shy through high school. It's ironic that I have hosted a show for so many years.

Ghost: What is your first radio-related memory?

Max: In 2009 I spent some time in the Philippines as part of a professional exchange program. As I said before, I have a background as a print journalist, and so got the chance to check out a lot of media in that country. I went to a couple radio stations and even got interviewed on a show. That planted the seed and when I came back, I knew I wanted to work in this field.

Ghost: Do you do live shows, or do you pre-record?

Max: My show used to be live but is now pre-recorded.

Ghost: Do you have live acts during your shows?

Max: Not right now, since it's all done over the phone or Skype, but back when it was a live show I did. I plan to get a sort of home studio set up and once that's done, some acoustic acts may be possible.

Ghost: Do you do artists interviews?

Max: Yes. I take time to research each guest to provide an in-depth interview. I focus on what's new, such as a tour or album release, but I ask some background questions as well.

Ghost: Is your show purely internet on WEMF or do you also air on FM/AM? Where can we find you?

Max: WEMF closed in 2018, and the show is now on Boston Free Radio at 10 pm on Saturdays, as well as Podbean and iTunes.

Ghost: Are you alone running the show, or do you have people helping?

Max: Right now, it's just me, but I'm always looking for new hands.

Ghost: Is the show in a special studio or are you running it from home?

Max: From home. Transitioning to a podcast forced me to learn a lot about audio equipment and I now have much of what I need for a proper home studio.

Ghost: How much time do you spend preparing your shows?

Max: About two hours per guest.

Ghost: Do you play unsigned music only or also commercial music?

Max: A mix of both. I only play music submitted for the show.

Ghost: What kind of music do you play?

Max: All kinds.

Ghost:What kind of music do you like?

Max: Again, all kinds. My Spotify playlist is varied, to say the least.

Ghost: How do you find the music you play?

Max: Mostly people send me music, but I go to shows a couple times a week and will often ask the artists if I can add their music to my program.

Ghost: Do you have sponsors? How is the show funded?

Max: Since it's a podcast, funding isn't really an issue, though I bought most of my equipment. I'm always looking for sponsors, though, as that would help me grow the program.

Ghost: Could you tell us about your typical radio day?

Max: That's a tough one. I do the show here and there, so there's no real typical day. But each day I go through my e-mail and schedule interviews or add music to my show library.

Ghost: What is your feeling about streaming platforms, like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc.?

Max: It opens the doors to discover new music, but it also hurts artists, since they don't get paid properly. It's a decent idea that needs work.

Ghost: How much presence do you have on social media? Do you think it's important to be there and what do you do to promote your radio?

Max: I'm pretty active on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I post a lot of photos, updates on the show, etc. I think it's essential that one have a social media presence.

Ghost: What advice would you give to unsigned artists who would like to submit to your show?

Max: Be professional. Don't just send me your song, tell me who you are, what you do, and include relevant links to your site and social media pages. Sending me a song and barely any info is the best way for me to ensure I delete it.

Ghost: What advice would you give to unsigned artists for their career?

Max: Just keep working. It's hard to make your art into a career, but if you love it, you need to keep plugging away.

Ghost: Do you have any issues with the world of unsigned music, or the world of internet radios, things that bugs you and/or you'd like to talk about?

Max: No, not really.

Ghost: Do you think you get enough support from your listeners and the artists you play?

Max: They often share my posts and talk about me on their own pages, so I'd say yes, I do.

Ghost: Any band/artist that has impressed you last year that you would like people to know about?

Max: My friend Otto's band Dust Prophet. They're new and amazing. Check them out on

Ghost: Any plans for Citywide Blackout and Max Bowen in 2019? Or beyond?

Max: Now that the show is a podcast, I'm going to work to see what else I can do in terms of growing the program or maybe making it into a paying gig.

Ghost: Anything else you'd want to add?

Max: Yeah, my hands are sore from all this typing. But seriously, keep checking out new art. It keeps life fresh and interesting.

Citywide Blackout

Links to Max Bowen

  • Spotify - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle
  • Pinterest - White Circle
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
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