NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

HC Media Radio Plays Your Music

Exciting opportunities for unsigned local music artists are at HC Media, also known as Haverhill Community Media.

Recently launched is their radio station, which gives opportunities to musicians who want to get their music out into the airwaves for free.

Matt Belfiore, Director of Operations at HC Media and adjunct faculty at NECC, shared with other staff members the idea of doing something more audio-oriented in contrast to their traditionally visual-oriented televistion programs.  For a few years they had been thinking of doing something like newscasts or playing top 40 music hits.

“Something about it just never clicked, and I never really liked the idea of it all that much. . . so I got the idea to do something more like an alternative rock radio station … geared toward unsigned local and semi-local acts,” said Belfiore.

Brian Hough, multimedia developer at HC Media, put together the mechanics of what would become HC Media Radio.

“Basically, it’s set up with an open source software called Shoutcast which is really popular in the independent radio world,” he said.

“We kind of modified it just a little bit to suit our needs. We set it up  over on a new server that we had, we are able to broadcast mp3 files from our server directly out of the building to the website and wherever else.”

Deciding on content was no issue for Belfiore, who was once in a garage band back in the ’80s and ’90s. With a deep appreciation for local music, he reached out to a few people he knew who play in bands.

“I think we started with like three bands, and then within a month and a half, we’re up to 26 bands now — meaning we’re up to a couple hundred songs. Obviously we want more, and the idea is to get more bands,” said Belfiore.

The only criteria to get airtime is that the music has to be unsigned with no royalties.  It’s a pretty sweet deal for local bands who want to get their music out there to a larger audience, and it’s free.

“We launched it before we really had any sort of format,” said Belfiore. “I’m a big believer in do-it-yourself stuff, and maybe it goes back to my old rock and roll garage punk days … it’s like, don’t worry about learning how to play, just pick up an instrument and do it and eventually you’ll figure it out.”

Having the station available, even if it’s not perfect, gels perfectly with the sort of content it’s presenting.  So many amazing local bands have unsigned music they’ve worked so hard to produce, and it should be shared and enjoyed. Young musicians don’t always have the money for huge recording contracts or ways to distribute their music among large amounts of people.

HC Media Radio is an amazing new medium to sate the public’s desire for new refreshing music while simultaneously helping local artists be heard.

Shawn Smith, a recent NECC graduate who attended Belfiore’s class a few years ago, did an internship at HC Media.   Since his internship he has become a part-time staff member and has become the to go-to guy for the radio station.  Smith does most of the programming for the songs and does little blurbs for the radio station in between songs, along with some rudimentary taped deejaying.  There has not been any live deejay work yet, but that is a definite possibility.

“What we’re working at next is we want to do live deejaying. We don’t want it to just be one person. We just recently hired a training coordinator here that teaches people how to be a deejay,” said Belfiore. “You could come in, learn how to deejay, then come here, volunteer for an hour and pick the tracks that you want to play. We’ll record it live, you can come in here and be a deejay for an hour, man.”

It’s an amazing volunteer opportunity to showcase different music and different tastes. It gives the ability to play the music someone thinks is really cool. They can make that time slot their own, putting an individual stamp on the airwaves.

The radio station can only continue to grow with new musical content; it needs more local music. Any musician interested in submitting their work can do it in multiple ways. They can give HC Media a call at (978) 372-8070, send a message to the HC Media Radio Station’s Facebook page at or fill out a contact form at The other option is to drop off a CD or music files at HC Media’s physical address, which is 60 Elm St. Haverhill, Mass.


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