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Artist Patti Hernandez Setting Up Electric Lunch Radio Station in Downtown

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It used to be that downtown's most exciting option at noon was lunch at Jimmy John's. But the arts and culture scene in city center is rapidly expanding, and with it comes far more enticing opportunities.

Most recently, as part of the Downtown Development Authority's (DDA) DWNTWN Art Window , local artist Patti Hernandez has launched Electric Lunch radio. Broadcasting live from a storefront, the online station (akin to pirate radio) is designed to bring a subculture context to downtown.

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The live show has been broadcasting every Wednesday and Friday from noon to 3 p.m.since Feb. 27 in downtown's historic DuPont building.

Smack in the middle of downtown's business district, the Electric Lunch space itself was once a bank. It still boasts red carpet and teller setups, which makes Hernandez dig it even more.

"I'm super excited because the space we got is exciting -- we're pretty much taking over a whole storefront stage. We're not only broadcasting a station from it but also setting up different exhibitions," she adds.

Already, there's lots lined up for the next two months, from a talk on spirituality and the arts to a cleansing ceremony to the live singing of an Icelandic lullaby.

"Another thing I'm really excited about is a project with Roofless Records. He's having 24 bands and each band gets an hour slot. He did a show with us about two years ago called the Micro Show ... each band had a minute to play. And now he's doing the Macro Show."

Hernandez is no stranger to radio as a medium. A co-founder of Miami's notable nomadic art project the end/SPRING BREAK, she's spearheaded other on-air endeavors, including a collaboration with fellow artist Agustina Woodgate as part of the Berlin-based Kulturpark installation.

While pirate radio (the use of unregulated audio exchange using a transistor and occupying vacant radio frequencies) is highly illegal, online radio is arguably its modern day incarnation.

"I felt that because it's so accessible, it's even better than pirate radio. In a way it's limiting -- but not really. Almost everybody has access to a computer," Hernandez says.

The online station's parent concept, DWNTWN Art Window, is a free exhibit initiated by the Miami DDA to inspire and showcase local artists while bringing new audiences into the area. The installation will change every two months.

And while it's her name behind the current project, Hernandez calls it a collaboration due to the number of people she'll be working with. "I almost consider it an extension of the nomadic project that we do [the end/SPRING BREAK with Domingo Castillo and Kiwi Farah]," Hernandez says.

Interacting with passers-by is a key part of the overall idea, she adds.

"Ideally that's definitely part of the goal ... to try to bring the idea of the subculture to someone who has no reference point to it. And that's almost why helping to conceptualize the project helps people understand what you're doing," she explains. In other words, involve people directly with the art, and they're way more likely to get it.

Already, she's met an immigration attorney whose practice and the issues surrounding it are likely to become the subject of an upcoming on-air discussion.

So next time you're cruising through downtown at lunch time, skip the slice of pizza and stop for some Electric Lunch instead. Who knows -- your random conversation might become fodder for a fascinating hour of radio.

You can visit the Electric Lunch locale in person at 169 E Flagler St., or listen online. The show broadcasts every Wednesday and Friday from noon to 3 p.m.

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