Photo by Peat Bakke/Flickr Creative Commons

“I basically sold a bunch of my records,” laughs Baltimore native David Koslowski, founder and program director for the volunteer-run, ad-free, online radio station based in Baltimore called Radio Plastique.

After parting ways with many of his records to fund Radio Plastique – though still retaining much of his collection – David launched the station in January.

Radio Plastique’s program offerings run the gamut, from Kim Ware’s serving of folk, country, and Americana roots on Great Big Hoping Machine, to Sean Hamilton’s post-apocalyptic vignettes on Burning Glass, to Matthew Rubbish’s deep swan dives into the realms of classic indie and goth in The New Indie Hour. Want more of the same? Peep Friday Night Feature, a show where DJs play one record in its entirety. There are also classic standbys like Democracy Now, and Essential Tremors hosted by Matthew Byars and City Paper alumnus Lee Gardener.

Aside from his vinyl stockpile procured from years of avid collecting, this little sonic upstart benefits greatly from countless hours of David’s arduous personal labor perfecting the site, calling upon his skills gained through years of tinkering with code in the realms of “corporate hell.”

David has a backstory that reads like Dr. Samuel Beckett from Quantum Leap. The once ruckus frontman of Baltimore post-punk band Liquor Bike, and now co-owner of Baby’s On Fire record shop and café in Mount Vernon, has tried his hand working for distributors, record labels, radio stations. At one point he even joined the ranks of a burgeoning dotcom world. He also wrote and directed a documentary with Skizz Cyzyk about cult band Alice Donut called “Freaks In Love.”

It was his time as a post-punk troubadour which led him to the fateful pro-choice benefit show at the 8X10 he played in the fall of ’92 where he first encountered his now life partner and Baby’s On Fire co-owner and chef Shirlé Hale-Koslowski with her riot grrrl band Womyn of Destruction. Like Liquor Bike, W.O.D. grinded it out on the national scene, eventually hitting up spots like CBGB where their van was broken into. On the flip side, Joan Jett herself watched them perform their L7 brand of mayhem at that same Big Apple show so it was “worth it.”

Shirlé, who originally hailed from Philadelphia, had been in Baltimore about four years when she first bumped into David. She moved here soon after graduating from Berklee School Of Music in Boston where she’d see folks like The Pixies and The Blake Babies hanging around on the regular basis. She reminisces “I busked in the subways for three years with Mary Lou Lord” all while taking classes alongside members of Blonde Redhead and kicking out the jams with her Afro funk-punk band which David describes as being akin to “Remain In Light era Talking Heads with female vocals.”

Shirlé, having gigged in Baltimore already by that point, speaks on what it was that drew her back. “It seems to me that Baltimore has always been very collaborative bandwise. That’s how it was when we were younger too. Somebody was always opening up a space somewhere.”

The Berklee band which she had brought back to Baltimore with her eventually took a back seat to W.O.D. who were co-headlining with Liquor Bike on a five-band bill that night of the pro-choice benefit where the two first crossed paths.

David recalls taking that leap of faith: “I was recently single and she was still with somebody.
I was like ‘If you guys ever break up and you wanna go out or whatever,’” David pauses while reeling back into the years chuckling in an unmistakably native Baltimore accent. “Then months and months went by and finally she broke up with the boyfriend and we just started goin’ out.”

At this point Liquor Bike were blowing up alongside bands like Lungfish and opening for huge acts like Green Day. After years of touring and developing a robust catalog, Liquor Bike caught the attention of a BMG subsidiary label placing them in league with label mates like Brainiac and The Wrens but ultimately the deal fell through. In the late ’90s with both of their bands cooling off, the two set their sights on North Carolina. The two remained working and rocking there until 2012, when they returned to Baltimore, where four years later they opened Baby’s On Fire.

For most people that would be enough, but for David the next logical step, obviously, was to start a free-form internet radio station, ‘cause why not, right? He felt a bit disenchanted with what was on the dial and wanted to bring something new to the table.

“I wondered what it would be like to create an internet station based in Baltimore. Why can’t it be based in Baltimore,” he exclaims vigorously, recalling his recent epiphany.

The lack of interruptions from ads makes it feel like you’re listening to a solid personal playlist that a way cooler friend made for you. Tracks bounce seamlessly between the ’80s ska revival of “Too Much Pressure” by Selector, to the ethereal Cocteau Twin’s “Musette And Drums,” to Nirvana’s pleasantly grimey earworm “Very Ape.”

David is optimistic about the station’s long-term outlook and being able to stick to their guns. “I wanna keep it commercial-free as much as possible, though I’m not opposed to underwriting.”

Exuding an effervescent enthusiasm, David explains how the fruit of his varied occupations and travels have yielded a plethora of DJ talent. “I’ve got DJs in Brooklyn, New York; Richmond, Virginia; Fort Collins, Colorado; Tucson, Arizona, and a bunch from Baltimore. There’s a guy we have named Monty Pop who does a killer show called Choice City Funk Too. That dude has deep 7’’s and 45s, I know him from when I lived in North Carolina.”

David and Shirlé event have their own show called Singles Going Steady where they each pick six records and feature one “what the f**k record.” David says the fun part is “we don’t look at what six records the other has.” As far as the WTF records are concerned Shirlé says this must be a pick that makes them both go “what the f**k is this record and how did it get into our collection?”

As you can imagine with owning a record store on top of being a vinylphile who’s worked in music their whole life, just about anything is likely to pop up, which adds a level of delightful disorder you’re not likely to find on more commercial radio stations.

David and Shirlé do their show right from their house and you can hear it 9-10:30 a.m. every Friday. To hear what you’ve read about visit