When John Caignet told friends he was starting an internet radio station after graduating from college, they weren't sure what to think. "Internet radio is just coming up in a way," Caignet says. "To a lot of people, it [was] still a little alien." Seven years and nearly 60 shows later, Jolt Radio has grown into one of Miami's most popular alternative radio stations and a reliable platform for the city's artists to present their music.
When it came time to plan this year's anniversary celebration, Caignet thought he'd look to the people and artists who've helped build Jolt. The party will be a blowout at Gramps in Wynwood. The daylong festival (Caignet prefers to call it a carnival) will include performances by Miami favorites such as Otto Von Schirach, Poorgrrrl, Astari Nite, and Rat Bastard. There will also be audience activities like synth workshops, and Jolt will broadcast live talk shows from the bar and host a screening of the pilot of his new TV show, Sound Waves. And, of course, no Gramps party would be complete without a performance by Miss Toto.
Caignet curated the lineup in much the same way he approaches the station's programming. "I wanted people that do 'Miami style' in a way or put some kind of Miami style in their music. Why not have somebody that plays booty music, somebody that plays house, somebody that plays hardcore, and just section it out and make Gramps kind of like a little playground? [If] you're tired of listening to disco for the moment, then you go and walk into another room and you'll listen to weird ambient music."
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Like the radio station itself, the anniversary event is meant to be a celebration of the city's musical underground. "It's pretty much for folks that want to listen to nontraditional stuff," he says.
Jolt's appeal has gone global, and Caignet is often surprised by his station's reach. Looking at listener stats, he was perplexed to find that some users never logged off Jolt's internet stream, so he decided to investigate. "I was kind of scratching my head. It turns out that they're record stores in Germany or France that constantly have Jolt turned on. It's insane."
As Jolt continues to grow, Caignet's interests and ambitions have grown beyond radio. Initially, he rejected other media — he believed radio to be superior because of the element of imagination involved in active listening. But cameras were recently added to the studio to facilitate live streams, and he's in talks with some TV networks to take Sound Waves to a national audience. "It's transformed into a bigger thing," Caignet says of Jolt. "I think I'm happier and happier with the years that pass by."