Small town bookstore goes big with internet radio station launch

Staff Writer
Alice Echo News Journal

The Novel Blend bookstore located in the heart of historic downtown Kingsville opened for business in June of 2019 and was steadily increasing its local customer base through in-store events such as poetry readings, weekly open mic nights, wine and painting sessions, and author events. Just like all businesses nationwide, at the end of this past March, things went drastically wrong. Upon reopening after the two-month quarantine, owners Tom and Jill DiFrancesca found themselves operating a small business with very few customers and sadly no longer able to host weekly and monthly events.

“We had to think of something that would help draw customers back to the store and for us to stay connected to them,” Tom DiFrancesca said. “We also wanted to continue to help local musicians be heard and since we could no longer host our popular weekly open mic nights, it just seemed like building an Internet radio station was the answer.”

The small studio for Kingsville Community Radio is located inside The Novel Blend bookstore located at 311 E. Kleberg Ave. The audio stream is hosted remotely through Live365.com and if one simply types “Kingsville” in the search box, the station page and player will pop right up. The station did a soft launch in late June. The Novel Blend covers the cost of stream hosting and music royalty payments.

“Over the past few months we’ve started including about a dozen local musicians and bands in our daily programming and then every evening at 7 pm we feature them in the Coastal Bend Music Showcase where they receive an additional opportunity to be heard,” DiFrancesca said. “We’ve got artists from Kingsville, Corpus Christi, Portland, Rockport, Sinton, and even Victoria.”

Just last week Kingsville Community Radio started airing free advertising spots for dozens of locally owned downtown small businesses and plans to expand that mission to all small businesses in the area as well as for local non-profit organizations and sites of interest in the Kingsville area.

“We just want to help this community thrive any way we can, we’ll never charge for advertising if it’s a locally owned small business and there’s no charge to the musicians either,” DiFrancesca said. “The Internet radio station is strictly not-for-profit.”