In 2012, Amanda Guest found herself bored with her publishing career in Massachusetts. She missed her days at Salem State University, where she had a show on the college radio station, WMWM, for 10 years.
“I just knew I never wanted to be a commercial radio DJ,” she says.
So Guest did what any reasonable person in her position would do: she negotiated for her job to let her work remotely and moved cross-country to San Francisco, a city to which she hardly had any connection other than her fascination with bands like Shannon and the Clams and Sonny & the Sunsets. After a brief gig hosting her own show at community station Mutiny Radio, she found a space in the Secret Alley, an interdisciplinary art space in the Mission, and liquidated her retirement savings to launch her own station, BFF.fm, in 2013.
“I wanted to stay in community radio or college radio where you have the freedom to play what you wanna play,” she tells me when I meet her in BFF.fm’s headquarters. With its wood-paneled walls and assortments of surrealist art and odd knick-knacks, the vibe is art gallery-meets-pirate ship, akin to a set from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. “You’re providing this service of introducing people to all these sounds they may have not been exposed to otherwise.”
Five years later, BFF.fm (Best Frequencies Forever) has grown into a force in the local music scene. On Sept. 7, the station celebrates its fifth anniversary with DJ sets at Off the Grid, the food-truck party at Fort Mason Center. For the month of September, BFF.fm also has a pop-up at the Mission Street art space Artists’ Television Access, where they’ll host live shows.