By Gabrielle Fellows
Scanning through the radio stations available in Youngstown, the same songs are heard on repeat, every hour, like clockwork. Classic rock, Top 40 and a mix of bland ‘80s and ‘90s pop fill the radio waves. Magazines that line the shelves cover the latest news concerning Lady Gaga’s new single and One Direction’s latest love interests.
What about those people who don’t want the run-of-the-mill music and music coverage? What do they consume? According to Rick Pollo, former Youngstown State University journalism student, whatever they please.
Pollo is the main man behind The Raw Alternative — a Rookery Radio show turned online magazine specializing in covering music, poetry and art that lends itself to the obscure.
The radio show began when Pollo discovered that there weren’t any stations in the area that actively played rock or alternative rock music. From there, the show opened its doors to local artists and allowed them to share their original music with a larger crowd via frequency instead of an overpriced set at one of the few venues in the area that still hosted shows.
After graduation, Pollo decided to keep the idea of an alternative music scene alive in the form of an online-only publication, also called The Raw Alternative.
“I thought, well, let’s just do this for fun,” he said. “Let’s write about cool music that we like, feature local acts that we thought were cool and extend it out to artists and poets that I think do phenomenal work, but otherwise don’t have a place to show that off.”
From there, the online magazine took off. Brandon Judeh, one of the main content providers for The Raw Alternative, said what started as a rock lover’s muse became one that attracted the attention of a sea of people.
“People steer clear of the alternative music scene — people want to be rich, I get it, I want to make more money too. I love [The Raw Alternative] and I’m passionate about it, so I do it,” Judeh said. “People like Rick and I latch onto stuff like this. And it’s doing really good. In one week in July we had over 500,000 hits — for this little Youngstown, Ohio online publication! Anything non-mainstream is still viable. It might not be the most popular thing out there, but there are still a lot of fans.”
The Raw Alternative writes articles on both local and national acts. The Gaslight Anthem, vocalist Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees and guitarist Brad Shultz of Cage the Elephant are only a few of the many big name artists that have spoken with some of the writers on the site.
Although the site is doing well with the crew already established, the publication is always looking for more people who wish to contribute to the counter-culture. While the site doesn’t offer paid positions, Pollo said that anyone who has a passion for music, literature and art that is out of the ordinary should definitely be pursing it, regardless if it is with The Raw Alternative.
“If you find your niche and find something you really love … take advantage of it. … Don’t be afraid to go for it. This is something I do for fun, but I got to interview people I really respect because of it,” Pollo said. “I encourage anybody who wants to do something they love to follow their dreams. … You’ll find time for it if its something you want to do.”
The Raw Alternative can be contacted through their website, RawAlternative.com, or by their Facebook page of the same name.