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Noise Causes Rift Between WRIR and "Social Oasis"



Music loud enough to shake the floors, rattle nerves and interrupt live broadcasts was enough to get officials at WRIR-97.3 FM amped up.

So early this month they called on supporters and musicians to put pressure on their loud downstairs neighbor, The Camel, a new music venue on West Broad Street.

The Camel, a self-described "social oasis" that also records live music and artistic performances, had a soft opening March 3 in the same building occupied by WRIR at 1621 W. Broad St.

Two days later in a heated e-mail blast, members of the Virginia Center for Public Press Executive Committee, which oversees the publicly owned radio station, said the noise violated their lease. It called on supporters to spread the word that The Camel was having a negative impact on WRIR's ability to conduct business.

Since the e-mail missive, The Camel and WRIR have been trying to reach a reconciliation. Farid Alan Schintzius, who owns The Camel, says he's starting a series of fundraising concerts with low-volume acts to help soundproof the facility. It begins with the Whirling Dervishes and poet Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi March 21 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Schintzius downplayed the disagreement last week at the venue, furnished with plush couches and decorated with colorful paintings and cutout camels. He made a point of turning down his radio, which was tuned to WRIR.

Schintzius says he's supported the station for years and even housed the DJs in the basement of his building while the station grew. The volunteer-run WRIR airs programs that cover everything from community activism to progressive news from the Pacifica Radio Network.

Schintzius says he thought he'd done enough to isolate the music within his club and studio. But it turns out a brick-and-plaster wall carries the sound through the ceiling to WRIR. "It's no fun to be up there," he says.

The projecting sound makes WRIR's Studio B unusable, WRIR sales manager Jeff Schultes says, so he's happy to see a resolution in the works. "We anticipate a healthy relationship," he says. S

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