Radio Room finds a new home closer to downtown

Seated, left: Geoffrey Cannada; middle, standing: Wes Gilliam; standing, right: David Raghib (co-owners of Radio Room); seated, right: Rhett Lumsden (bar manager of Radio Room). Photo By Will Crooks

For the past couple of years, David Raghib and Geoffrey Cannada have faced a challenge: how to continue to bring live acts to their popular North Pleasantburg Drive club, the Radio Room, despite the venue’s limited capacity of 65 people.

For some acts, including those that loved the spot and wanted to return, their contracts’ capacity stipulations made a Radio Room show impossible.

So for the past few years, Raghib and Cannada searched for new locations for the Radio Room. Each time, the prospect of a new venue always seemed to fall through. Until now.

Sometime during July — maybe even the first day — the current home of the Radio Room will close the doors after six years and set up shop at 110 Poinsett Hwy., the present-day location of the Independent Public Ale House. In the Radio Room’s new digs, it will have double the capacity and room to grow.

“We just couldn’t seem to find the perfect place,” Raghib says. “So we kind of kept biding our time and putting it off because we wanted to make sure that it would be a success. We didn’t want to get into something and get ahead of ourselves.”

Shortly after the deal was lined up, Raghib and Cannada called Wes Gilliam.

In 2015, after a five-year-long stint booking multi-genre shows at the Radio Room, Gilliam moved on. He still booked some shows around town, at places like IPA, Zen, and the Ninjaplex, but he was mostly phasing that part of his life out. Instead, he focused on his career in photography and video production.

“We’d always assumed if we were going to move, we were going to get back with Wes,” Raghib says. “We knew that taking a step forward into a larger venue like this, it would be more complicated and we’d be taking on more than we could handle unless we got somebody that could help.”

Booking has already begun for the Radio Room’s new space.

“We’ve been fortunate, between Wes and I, to build a strong word-of-mouth, or so I’ve heard,” Raghib says. “All of our contacts, we’ve treated them well. Even if they’ve outgrown this place, they still want to play here. That’s why we’re taking the brand, our name, with us.”

The new venue should also benefit both national and Upstate acts. “With the bigger capacity and stage, we can get some of those bigger bands who come through. We can provide a green room, the right sound system, and enough stage space now,” Gilliam adds. “But we’re still going to support local bands, too.”

There are some other changes in store for the Radio Room, as well, including an expanded menu and renovated restrooms.

“We’re going to open around 3 or 4 p.m., so we can have a happy hour,” Cannada says. “And we’ll be closing at 2 a.m. instead of later.”

Cannada adds, “It’s also going to be a public club instead of private, so It’s going to be more accessible too, and we can do more marketing and advertising.”

Perhaps most importantly, shows at the new Radio Room will be starting on time. If a band is supposed to be onstage at 8 p.m., they’ll be onstage at 8 p.m. And there will be a strictly enforced no-smoking policy, as well.

The trio of Raghib, Cannada, and Gilliam knows that some of the loyal folks who swear by the Pleasantburg Drive location won’t like the changes, but their hope is that both new and old fans will come out and give the Poinsett site a chance.

“If you’ve been hesitant to come out to the Radio Room, give us a try,” Cannada says. “It’s going to be an improvement on everything we’ve been doing.”





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