What does a person do after helping launch a broadcasting school, serve as its director while successfully running an Alternative music record store for 29 years? Andrew Chinnici sees himself as still having many choices that he’s enthusiastically ready to embrace when the time is right.
OK, so a little history here……Andrew Chinnici (AKA DJ Chris Andrews) started to broadcast from BOCES on Sunday evenings from 10 PM to 1 AM. As “luck” (as Andrew calls it) would have it, the office of the director of BOCES was directly across from his broadcasting room. (Which had actually been slated to become a classroom for would be radio broadcasters, but was idle, save for DJ Chris Andrews). For whatever reason, the Director of BOCES would often go to his office late at night to work. There was a grand opportunity as Andrew saw it to “pester” him for an actual classroom that could not only teach students about broadcasting but also serve as a real radio station headquarters. Once again, “LUCK” was on Chinnici’s side and his pestering paid off. And so began WBER, “The Only Station That Matters”. Andrew became the first program director of Rochester’s first Alternative radio station and remained so for many years.
(Here’s the background on BOCES and WBER. WBER is a listener and school district supported community radio station in Rochester, New York, USA, owned and operated by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Monroe #1. The station was founded by BOCES in 1985.)
Fast forward to 1986 and WBER was now a full-fledged radio station and a classroom for students aspiring to become broadcasters. *From my perspective, they had a great role model in Chinnici.
The difference with WBER is that it was not only The Only Station That Matters…it was the only station playing “Alternative” or New Wave music. With the onset of the invasion of bands like the Violent Femmes, the Ramones, The Cure and so on, this was perfect timing for an industrious young broadcaster like Chinnici.
People were taking notice and tuning in to these new sounds and liking it…well, actually loving it. The listener audience was growing exponentially thanks to the DJ’s and some great thinking minds and, oh. OK, LUCK. (Although luck had little to do with it in my humble opinion).
So, fast forward again, and Chinnici opens his first record store, Lakeshore Records. Lakeshore was one of the handful of great record stores in Rochester, but pretty much the only one that catered mainly to off-beat and New Wave music. If you take a moment to think about it, an actual phenomenon was turning Rochester on its ear. Both Literally and figuratively, and again, Andrew Chinnici AKA Chris Andrews was at the helm.
Although I could easily turn this into a novelette, for the sake of space and time, I will condense the rich and thick history of Lakeshore and tell you that after 29 years, almost to the date, Lakeshore is closing its physical doors. This was big news when I heard about it and knew I had to speak to Chinnici himself.
We heard about Lakeshore Record Exchange closing last week, so we got in touch with Andrew Chinnici, owner of Lakeshore to find out what exactly was happening. I must admit, I have not been to the latest location of LRE (Lakeshore Record Exchange), so I was pretty eager to go get a look see. The store is located on the effervescent Park Ave., so the whole atmosphere of the area is perfect for a place like an old school dive-y type record shop. I walked through the door, and was immediately taken aback by the whole atmosphere. It wasn’t what I expected, but certainly what I was hoping for.
BU: So, Andrew, what’s happening? Why are you closing your doors?
AC: *Smiles, this isn’t a bad thing. I have had a long run of luck and almost 29 years to the date, I am closing the doors to the store, but I am not going away. I have plenty of new and exciting things planned.
BU: I am glad to hear that, but why are you closing the doors? You have been so successful in continuing to remain one of the only record stores to mainly offer Alternative Music.
AC: Well, as I said, I have had a long good run of luck and not it’s time to do something new. Part of it is because a lot of people are more in to the digital world and a place like this becomes more obsolete as time goes by.
BU: So, people aren’t buying records?
AC: Not like they used to. People want more instant gratification and an LP doesn’t necessarily provide that.
BU: But, people still collect, yes?
AC; Oh, yeah. Absolutely, but as I said, not like before. Some people have been with me since day one, and I truly appreciate those people and the friendships that have developed over the years as a result. As a matter of fact, even a couple of the other record stores here have been calling asking what’s up.
(As I am listening, there is an easiness about Andrew and a calm that is very intriguing and I am beginning to quickly understand why people have flocked to him over the years. In fact, he is smiling, and I can’t help but feel really good where I am standing).
*Andrew invites me to look around the store and to take as many photos as I like. (Oh, YAY!)
I am like a kid in a candy store now. There is something everywhere. Ceiling to floor. Records, CD’s. Books, Photos, Autographs, and even a plaque of noteworthy Bob Dylan memorabilia *see pics
It brings me back to the days of head shops and incense and music and that whole “everything is cool” atmosphere.
Suddenly, I am aware of some great music playing and I ask about it. Junior Boys (who I have never heard of) is the music and I decide I need it. I buy on the spot along with a journal with a PULP cover, *see pic, and a comic book, of course! OK, so back to reality.
BU: So, this place is pretty awesome. When are you closing?
AC: Oh, there is no rush, so no closing date. We are open until it’s all gone.
BU: You are so laid back about this. How come?
AC: Well I am doing some very cool things soon with the Rochester Museum and I have a few other things going on.
BU: What do you attribute all these years of success to, Andrew?
BU: *I am laughing. Luck? This isn’t luck. This is obviously the work of someone who has successfully managed to somehow single handedly bring NEW WAVE Music to Rochester, Start the RADIO BROADCASTING class at Boces and the list goes on. I wouldn’t call that Luck.
AC: Again, smiling…OK, well, let’s call it KNOWING WHAT TO DO WHEN LUCK COMES AROUND.
That sort of sounds like a song, but I agreed to that *
BU: So, Andrew, this interview has been a joy. I am however, (as I am sure most people are) curious as to what comes next for Mr. Lucky?
AC: Well I already have some projects in the works with the Rochester Museum and that is very exciting.
Since I own this building, I am not in a crunch to do something immediately which makes it nice.
(Yes, he says that, but I just know something new is about to fall in his lap, and in his own words…when that happens, that’s luck, and when that luck comes around, I will know what to do).
So, I guess we wait and we watch because I know that Andrew Chinnici, AKA DJ Chris Andrews, AKA Mr. Lucky will truly know what to do when luck comes to town… and of that, I have no doubt.