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Media: October 2023 • Listening in on Internet FM

| September 30, 2023


Eric and Steve Leventhal of Internet FM

Eric and Steve Leventhal of InternetFM


Steve Leventhal is no stranger to terrestrial radio. He spent quite a few years as a broadcaster on stations like WVVX and the Bear (WCBR), doing his Sports Radio Nightly show with people like late sportscasters Les Grobstein, Jerry Kuc, and Bob Greenberg.

“In 2012,” Leventhal says, “I started working with Bart Shore because I wanted him to do some voiceovers for me for a syndicated show I had called Psychedelic Time Warp, that was going out to a handful of terrestrial stations. And he says, ‘You know, you should really talk to Marty Zivin; he’s doing online radio.’”

Zivin showed Leventhal how to do it.

“In 2012, I launched Acid Flashback Radio, which was an offshoot of what we had done at WCBR. At ‘CBR, the phones would ring off the hook all show long because people loved it. I mean, these guys were playing stuff like Firesign Theater and King Crimson and Captain Beyond and just stuff that was way out there. I always liked that concept because it was really the PROG radio of the 60s and 70s. It took me about six months to perfect the library, to get rid of the stuff I didn’t want, and to go in and really fill in all the Hendrix, the first 16 Rolling Stones albums, you know, everything Beatles from **Revolver on, and built this library up. It’s now 15,000 songs.”

It wasn’t long before Leventhal’s son Eric came aboard.

“We had been working on Acid Flashback for a while,” Eric says, “and every now and then, I would come in and suggest adding this new artist or that new artist that I was really into. At the time, in 2018, I was living in Longmont, Colorado. One night we were in a bar and trying to show someone the station, which involved getting out a tablet, and going through a web browser, and pulling up a media player, and it was on crappy Wi-Fi. The whole thing was way more of a rigamarole for what should have been as simple as push-button-get-music, right? I turned to my dad and said, ‘Why are we doing this through a browser? This should be an app.’ So that was our aha moment. That was the first half of the epiphany.

The second half of the epiphany was that we have all these other friends and affiliates who are doing similar stations. Why are we putting only our station on this new app? It should be all of them – at least all the ones that we like. Because TuneIn has 40,000 stations of varying degrees of quality. iTunes Radio is just as much of a haystack. So, we decided that we were going to find others who kind of met our same standards and had the same ethos, same values and put us all together at Internet FM. Instead of having to search thousands of stations, there would only be a few dozen. And you would know you were going to get something good.”

They started small. “We started with 19 stations,” Eric explains, “And now we’re at 50. “We’ve got all kinds of genres,” Steve explains, “not just rock. We’ve got country, jazz, blues. We’ve got a lot of indie alternative. We’ve got a couple of jam band stations. We’ve got one that’s Broadway and movie scores. We’ve got an “Ambien Show,” an entire station that plays sleepy background music. We’ve got a couple of heavy metal stations, Oldies. Yeah, it’s about 10 different genres all together with 50 stations.”

So, the question is, how is this different than, say, just getting Spotify? “We see a very symbiotic relationship between what we’re doing and what Spotify does,” Steve says, “since a lot of what we’re doing with Acid Flashback is deep tracks. I see no issue with somebody hearing a song from, let’s say, a deep Jefferson Airplane track and then going on Spotify and listening to the whole album because they haven’t heard it in 30 years. Because if you think about it when you’re on one of these services, the onus is on you to create your listening environment.”

Their tools for music discovery are robust,” Eric adds, “if you know how to use them, but even then, they still have limitations. Spotify can’t really surprise you. Pandora especially never really surprises you. And after enough time, your playlists will begin to get stale and crusty. So, we are offering ourselves as a way for people who use those services, who like discovering new music, to come listen to us. You’ll hear stuff you’ve never heard before. If you hear something you like, you can turn around and add it to your music on-demand service.”

As a father of three grown sons, I had to ask Eric a question. What is it like working with your dad? “It does require more than a modicum of patience,” he said with a laugh, “But it’s still a lot of fun. How many people can hang out with their dad every week and still have a blast? I’m lucky.”

If you’re wondering how they managed to secure a domain name like at this late date, Steve has an answer for you. “I got it in 1995. I always wanted to do radio. So, I said, let’s grab Internet FM. I couldn’t believe it was available.”


-Rick Kaempfer



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