They say, “Fortune favors the bold.” In the middle of a global pandemic, Callie and Brian Bauer took their already successful Shady Pines Media company and pushed all of their chips to the center of the table with a bold idea—starting an online radio station.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Brian and Callie Bauer about the world of Shady Pines Media, including their latest venture, Shady Pines Radio.
When was Shady Pines Media started?
Brian Bauer: We just turned 5! Shady Pines Media was founded in February 2016 by myself, Callie, and our good friend and housemate at the time, Kamran Pakseresht.
Callie Bauer: He is a talented videographer, film photographer, and just a generally creative, inspiring dude. In 2016 we were mainly shooting mini-documentaries and live music performances, just to create content.
Whose idea was it to start Shady Pines?
C.B: We both came up with the idea to start a media production company. After we did a video project together, we realized we made a really good team, and we were excited to do more. I came up with the “Shady Pines” name when we were hiking in Big Sur, loosely based on some song lyrics Brian was singing.
Were those involved early on with Shady Pines Media receptive to the way of thinking it was going to take to get Shady Pines Media going?
B.B: When we first started doing productions, it was mostly for cheap or free, just to get our feet wet. We were just trying to get our hands on projects and make cool stuff. So yeah, people were pretty stoked on it! And we always put a lot of care into our projects, so it was pretty well-received by the people we worked with for the most part.
C.B: When we started, we just wanted to make cool videos and record bands and solo artists. Live shows, studio performances, mini-docs and stuff like that. Early on we interviewed some artists and music makers we admired in the Pacific Northwest including Chris Ballew, Calvin Johnson, and David McMacken, and made them into mini-documentaries. We wanted to spotlight musicians and artists that we liked, some of whom we thought were underappreciated.
B.B: We’ve done a lot of artists’ first professional recordings and videos. When we were hosting EastBurn Open Mic, we started to realize that we were building community, and that felt really good. We got to hang out with all kinds of awesome musicians, poets, and comedians and facilitate a creative environment for people to express themselves.
C.B: It became a community, and we made a lot of friends during that time, as well as at our other open mic at Cruzroom Annex, and in the greater music scene that we connected to via these events. So, at some point community building within the Portland arts community became part of our mission statement and purpose as well.
It seemed like you guys couldn’t lose, and that things were steadily growing. When the pandemic hit and the music and entertainment industries shut down, did your goals or focus change from where you started, or was it still committed to putting out new Shady Pines Media content?
C.B: When the pandemic started we basically had to stop everything we were doing. No more sharing mics with 50 people a night, no more inviting performers into the studio, no more shows. Brian’s longtime friend Zack Wolk had some experience with internet radio, and one day in late March 2020, Brian and Zack went on a bike ride together. Zack pointed out that we were pretty perfectly positioned to start a community radio station, because we knew a diverse mix of creative people all over Portland through the work we’d done over the past few years. By the end of that ride, Brian was convinced.
B.B: Callie was equally excited by the idea. We hit the ground running on Shady Pines Radio that day, officially launching on April 8, 2020, and never looked back.
Shady Pines Radio is the product of the changes forced by the pandemic. We were busy with video, audio and event work before that, and we would have stayed in that pattern if it wasn’t disrupted. Shady Pines Radio has been a huge bright spot during this time for us, and for a lot of other folks that are involved in the station. While we do miss a lot about pre-Covid times, we like doing this every bit as much as the other production and event work we had been doing before. We just feel lucky to have discovered a new passion project so early on in the pandemic.
How many DJs did Shady Pines Radio start with?
C.B: It was just the two of us at the very beginning. When we first started, we just uploaded a bunch of recordings from our past projects, including bands we’d recorded and open mic recordings, and put them in 24/7 rotation.
B.B: Callie and I had already been doing a live-streamed video open mic every Wednesday since early March. Immediately after [starting] we had to pause our in-person open mics. So, when we launched Shady Pines Radio, we just shared the audio of the broadcast there, too. That was all there was for the first week or so, then we slowly started getting more friends interested in hosting shows.
How many DJs does the station have now?
B.B: Now we have about 90 DJs doing about 75 shows. Pretty much all waking hours are booked with an eclectic array of shows.
How would you describe each of your roles in running Shady Pines Radio?
B.B: Callie and I are the beans and rice of Shady Pines Radio. I think I’m the rice... I add body and structure. Callie is the beans. She brings the sustenance and flavor.
C.B: We’re making burritos. The DJs are the veggies and guacamole. They bring the party. The audience is the tortilla holding the whole thing together.
What audiences do you want to reach with Shady Pines Media and Radio?
C.B: We want to reach everyone! We love the community radio ethos, where you never know what you’re gonna get when you switch it on. Like our production work before, Shady Pines Radio covers a wide array of music and art. We have all kinds of characters DJ’ing shows, playing their selections of obscure music and poetry from their communities and their [own] collections. It’s more fun that way for everyone involved.
B.B: Every Sunday night we host our own show, ‘Nocturnal Submissions,’ where we go on the air for about four hours and just play all the songs people have submitted to the station over the past week. We get every kind of music you can imagine. Recordings of all genres, ranging from polished to super raw. It’s truly community radio at its communitiest!
Are Shady Pines Media and Shady Pines Radio the same identity?
B.B: Shady Pines Radio the newest subset of Shady Pines Media. We have our recording studio, our video productions, our events, and now we have a radio station! It’s all under the Shady Pines Media umbrella. But I’ve gotta say, Shady Pines Radio is taking on a life of its own.
C.B: Shady Pines Radio has become our main media endeavor. It keeps us connected to the artist community in Covid times and helps keep artists connected to their audience and continue to reach new people during this crazy time.
Since its inception, Shady Pines Media has been a work in progress, with constant growth over time and with a no-holds-barred approach to the ever-changing circumstances of the world. Brian and Callie, along with the rest of the crew over at Shady Pines Radio, have not only been welcoming to challenges, they have found a formula that works during these unprecedented times.