UncertainFM builds an online radio community

TJ Connelly’s ‘Uncertain Times’ celebrates 400th episode this week

LISTEN: Independent freeform radio from TJ Connelly and friends 

Programming extends to feature more than 15 specialty shows and DJs spinning indie, alternative, forgotten classics, and weird stuff 




BOSTON, MASS. [October 29, 2021] -- Usually, when a milestone is reached, the person or team behind it isn’t so much focused on the actual event, but all the moments that lead up to it. That’s the case with UncertainFM, the online streaming radio station owned and operated by TJ Connelly, as the founder’s flagship program Uncertain Times marks its 400th episode of live radio this Friday (October 29). 

Connelly’s vision for UncertainFM has evolved since first launching as a pandemic project in March 2020. The longtime Boston sporting event DJ found himself with extensive free time after professional sports leagues across the country shut down at the start of the pandemic, so he turned to one of his greatest passions: Radio. Uncertain Times was born, providing listeners with some comfort and community in terrifying circumstances, and 400 episodes later, his live online broadcasts -- proudly boasting an eclectic playlist of indie, alternative, forgotten classics, and weird stuff in a freeform style and personally-curated approach -- have become a central part of a station that hosts more than 15 specialty programs and DJs throughout the week. 

“I had some background in commercial and college radio, and a long career working on internet projects; taken in hand with being a DJ in a lot of unusual contexts, it turns out I may have been training to start my own radio station my entire life,” Connelly says. “Much to my surprise, offering a friendly voice and good music through Uncertain Times took off immediately. I did a sort of demo show and it drew way more people than I ever expected. So I did another one the next day, and the day after that, and now 18 months later we're coming up on episode number 400.”

Surrounding Uncertain Times -- airing weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, with a replay from 2 to 6 p.m. EDT for folks on the West Coast, capped by the Big Stupid Dance Party on Fridays -- has been a growing team of collaborators and radio voices both new and veteran. UncertainFM’s other programming, most of it after work hours, features a wide variety of styles and voices: WFNX legend Duane Bruce hosting American Debauchery on Friday nights, preceded by two live shows in  Live From The Treehouse with Peter Fernandez and Michael Knight’s synthwave showcase RETROFUTURISM 101; Nick Benevenia’s Rat Fever on Mondays; a Tuesday slate of jazz program Overtone Window, Greg Wymer’s Cover Lover, and Maura Johnston’s The Pop N’ Wrestling Connection; on Wednesdays darkwave and metal with Callan’s Outback Witch House and Mike McKenzie’s Seeking The Nighted Throne, respectively.

The schedule moves with the calendar, too. Surrounding the 400th episode of Uncertain Times is a week-long slate of Halloween programming, with both live shows and special episodes on Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the spooky holiday.

“Playing a wide variety of music is one of if not the most important values UncertainFM is based on,” Connelly says. “Adding more voices means more variety, whether the show is themed and specialized or not. I grew up listening to Boston radio and there's nothing out there with the sound of WFNX or WBCN as I remember them. It's incredible to turn around and be able to offer an opportunity to other people who love making radio. Plus, it's a delight to just listen to the station in the car and discover new music myself.”

All of the shows are personally curated and reflect UncertainFM’s larger overall vision of community engagement and involvement, where listeners don’t just tune in, but join the live chat via Slack as the programs progress, discussing the music with the DJs and others who have tuned in. 

“The highlight of the entire process has been the community,” Connelly adds. “I set up a Slack in the very early days as a live chat during broadcasts, and it somehow gathered this great group of people who have been there for each other through everything that's gone on since lockdown. It's a great little local bar and my job is to keep the jukebox excellent.”

Both the programming and community have created a string of highlights so far for Connelly, from notable events and happenings played out in public to small, behind-the-scenes stuff that has defined the overall growth of UncertainFM over the past 18 months. Connelly recalls first hearing a voice that wasn’t his own on the station, as well as a series of moments that stand out since launch: The night a listener was alone in a hospital and the UncertainFM team and other listeners stayed signed in to the live chat to keep her company; comforting a listener whose father had just passed away; seeing folks donate to the Patreon; every time a new DJ launches a show; and, as Connelly puts it, just “occasionally finding out there's someone else in the world who loves an objectively terrible song as much as i do.” 

Every day, it seems, brings a new highlight. 

“We live in a time when most of the music ever recorded is available to anyone in an instant,” Connelly says. “But availability is not experience; you could walk into a vast library seeking a poem to read at a wedding, find the poetry section, and start reading, but you'll do much better to ask a librarian. Likewise, anyone can read a wine list, but it takes someone who has dedicated themselves to building the best possible experience to help you find what pairs perfectly with your meal.”

It’s about building that experience that fuels Connelly and the UncertainFM staff. It’s personal curation in the age of the algorithm, a vast collection of music obsessives who share their love with others, building engagement the old fashioned way, like friends in a record shop would. Uncertain Times, and well as the other shows, are organically created and cultivated. Every day is different, both for the DJs and listeners, and it’s rare to even hear the same song twice -- something virtually unheard of in traditional and commercial radio circles.   

“When it comes to independent radio, you're hearing music someone curated, and what's more you're sharing that experience with everyone else listening at the same time,” concludes Connelly. “I can't remember the exact moment when UncertainFM went from being a radio show to a radio station. I'm not sure there was a single moment as much as a realization that I loved making radio and that there were other people out there who loved it too.”

TJ Connelly is available for interviews. Contact michael@publisist.co for more information.


UncertainFM program schedule [Fall 2021]:


Media contact: Please contact Michael Marotta at michael@publisist.co.