“We call that the awkward date table” says Kat, looking out of the recording studio into Roberta’s Pizza Restaurant, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “When people realise we’re recording a radio show in here, they either love it… or they look a bit uncomfortable.”
Heritage Radio Network is the world’s only radio station dedicated entirely to food, and possibly the only radio station broadcast from two converted shipping containers in the back yard of a pizza restaurant. Situated at the back of a nieghbourhood pizzeria, they deliver 35+ shows a week to foodophiles listening around the world. The cosy studio looks directly into the restaurant, with one table — the awkward date table — placed directly beside the large glass window dividing the two rooms.
“HRN was founded in 2009 with the mission to share stories about food that weren’t being covered by larger publications or major food glossies.” says Kat. “Patrick Martins, our founder, welcomed guests from all across the food world — not only chefs and farmers — but also importers, truckers, publicans, cheesemakers, policy wonks, the list goes on..”
Combining grit and sheer enthusiasm, the non-profit organisation has brought together a roster of great presenters who create programming which covers everything from gastronomy to policy. “Our food system is incredibly complex, which is why HRN is home to so many diverse points of view.” says Kat.
HRN is a member-supported nonprofit food media organisation, relying on listeners and supporters to produce the weekly schedule. Their can-do mentality and the odd bit of bootstrapping (the original station ‘office’ was in a corner of the Heritage Foods warehouse) has seen the station and it’s audience grow each year. Every autumn they celebrate with a fundraising gala at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, the proceeds of which help keep the station going for another year.
Making the world of food a better place for everyone sits centrally in the station’s aim of “making the world more equitable, sustainable and delicious by changing the way eaters think about food.”. But more than that, Kat says they want to give voices to those who are missed by other outlets.
“We want to stay true to our roots by covering stories and interviewing subjects that are overlooked by other food media, including other regions of the US and we have a children’s show in development!”
Whatever you position on food, both dietary and geographical, there’s bound to be something on Heritage Radio Network that connects with you. While this piece might appear like an unashamed piece of cheerleading, there’s a good reason for that… it’s because we need more Heritage Radio Networks in the world, so tune in and support the people who are truly using their voices in the food world.
If you’d like to learn more about how to support HRN’s work, visit heritageradionetwork.org/donate.