Interview: Jim Klososky of the CHIRP Record Fairs

ArtistSigningsP4K2016 Artists show up at the Pitchfork Record Fair as an added attraction

Jim Klososky is co-Director of the CHIRP Record Fairs. He found CHIRP Radio at a few street fairs in the summer of 2011, and signed on as a volunteer in early 2012. After writing several in-house album reviews & doing a couple of artist interviews he found himself in a late night DJ slot for a few years. Helping out at the biannual Record Fairs eventually led to a leadership role in 2014, which he enjoys to this day. He occasionally subs in for the regular DJs but gets nervous when he thinks about the fact that IT’S REALLY ON THE FM DIAL NOW. (107.1FM) 

The 16th annual CHIRP Record Fair is coming up on April 14th, so we thought this would be a great time to check in with Jim Klososky.CHIRP_Record_Fair


 

Q: Let’s start with the basics – what is the CHIRP Record Fair?

A: We do 2 Record Fairs each year as large fundraising events (CHIRP Radio is a non-profit organization). Vendors of vinyl albums, record stores and record labels rent tables from us and load the tables up with thousands of used & new records. It is unlikely that most people will ever see this much music in one room anywhere else! One is set in the midst of the Pitchfork Music Festival, but we are hard at work on the April show currently. It is the 16th annual CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights. We add in “Other Delights” to add some interest for folks who may not be into spending their whole Saturday at a vinyl show, or for the pals/significant others/kids of vinyl mavens who might get bored while their friend digs through crates for 6 hours . O.D.s have ranged from bicycle stunts to poetry readings. Working on the lineup for this year currently.

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View from the balcony at an April Record Fair

Q: What’s your role?

A: I have been a co-Director (along with Jenna) of the Record Fairs since 2014, and worked on them for a couple of years before that. As Director, I need to start working on both of the coming year’s Fairs in the Fall of the prior year. Currently, the April 2018 event is nearly sold out (vendor-wise…don’t worry we are wide open for attendees!), so we’ve been fielding emails from dozens of vendors at this point, logging their needs and requests for table positions, along with food and beverage suppliers for the event. Starting to think about interesting new sponsorship alignments for the Fairs…there is a lot to work on!

Q: It sounds like a big commitment, and this isn’t your day job, right?

A: Yep it’s a lot, and nope it isn’t a day job! Literally 99% of the folks at CHIRP are volunteers, though, so I’m not special in that regard.

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CHIRP volunteers working our tables at an April Record Fair

Q: Have you noticed any trends over the years? The demise of vinyl was predicted a long time ago, and we saw how that went.

A: When I started helping with the Fairs, the attendees were mainly people around my age (I’m older than a breadbox), and the vendors had hundreds of dusty crates full of vinyl from garage and estate sales. Now the demographic is much younger, and many of the vendors are record stores and indie labels. We have a collective of local microlabels whose presence has grown consistently, they started off with 2 tables a few years ago and are up to 8 tables reserved this year!

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DJs the Veech & JimK chilling out at the CHIRP tables, Pitchfork Music Festival, 2016

Q: I’ve heard people attribute the endurance and popularity of vinyl to Hip Hop.

A: I think there is definitely something to the idea, in that it kept the image of the vinyl record an icon of cool, even when the medium itself was being phased out by digital modes (CDs, then device storage). I feel there was an element of a just-in-time resurgence as well, because people were really starting to liquidate their kids’ collections from the basements about 10 years ago! Millions of great albums would’ve ended up in dumpsters had the new generation of vinyl enthusiasts not emerged. The longtime vendors at our Record Fairs never gave up, though…true believers in the vinyl album as THE way to listen to music.

Q: Do you buy vinyl?

A: Yes, I do. I’m usually too busy to shop much at our Record Fairs, though. My purchases are usually from artists at live shows off of their merch tables. I like to grab 7” singles by opening bands I’ve never heard of who impressed me with their set. Love the artwork, I’m a sucker for eye-catching graphics.

Vendor crates set up at a Pitchfork Record Fair

Q: Let’s talk a little about CHIRP. What is it, and where can people hear it?

A: CHIRP is an independent, locally-focused, volunteer-driven radio station on the northside of Chicago. After streaming live DJs spinning personally-curated sets since 2010, we added on a FM signal at 107.1 last year, which was very exciting for us. Although the majority of our listeners are probably still online (chirpradio.org), the terrestrial signal lends a certain legitimacy. Nice to provide music to peoples’ cars as they’re stuck in traffic.

Q: How does the record fair fit into CHIRP’s overall plans for growth?

A: As a non-profit, most of CHIRP’s work is funded by grants, individual donors, and volunteer fundraising. The Record Fairs consistently provide a few chunks of yearly income, which I think can be used to develop exciting new projects. Some other things along this line would be our live lit series, The First Time, and The CHIRP Factory Sessions, which are high-quality video recordings of bands in an industrial space that we have access to. Honestly I’m not on the Finance committee so I don’t really think about how the Record Fair money is used…I just help to keep it rolling in every year!

Q: What’s the future hold for the CHIRP Record Fair?

A: We’ve considered doing more than two per year, but our Vendors do lots of other shows around the country, so we don’t want to water down our brand too much. Leave them looking forward to the 2 that we do so well as standouts in their year. We also consider changing the venue every few years, but the West Loop works really well as a location that is easy for attendees and Vendors to access. Last year was the first time we’ve utilized the entire Plumbers Union Hall (there are 2 levels & we had previously only used the main hall), so we can get better at maximizing our use of the increased space. Always looking for other nonprofits to partner with for promotion… that has a slightly different flavor each year. Working on our guest DJ and performances roster to increase attendance is something that we look forward to developing further. We have some great entertainment lining up this year, on top of the literally tons of vinyl for people to pore over. Not to be missed!

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Local record store tables at a Pitchfork Record Fair