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Why Do D.C.’s Boutique Hotels Keep Opening Radio Stations?

By Eliza Berkon | Originally published in DCist

It’s 1 p.m. on a recent Thursday and Jack Inslee is sitting at a short wooden table in a sleek, light-filled recording studio at The Line hotel.

“In D.C., it didn’t feel like there was anything like this,” says Inslee, founder and executive producer of Full Service Radio. “And frankly, there’s just a lot of people here whose stories are not getting heard on a national level.”

When The Line opened in 2017, a radio station or podcasting hub housed within the hipster-chic environs of a boutique hotel lobby seemed like a novel idea. But with more recent entrants to the stage—including K Street hotel and cultural-hub-slash-coworking-space Eaton DC and, soon, Big Whig Media at the Willard InterContinental—that novelty may be bordering on local trend.

Meanwhile, Big Whig Media is aiming to turn a profit from the convergence of broadcast media and the hospitality industry.

In late July, PR firm Nahigian Strategies announced a new multimedia collaboration with Carr Companies breaking ground at the Willard this month. The project, Big Whig Media, will set up shop in the Willard courtyard and include rentable TV studios, audio suites, satellite uplink studios, and editing rooms.

“Podcasts are moving from being crummy things in conference rooms” to content made by people “demanding higher-production value,” says Keith Nahigian, founder and president of Nahigian Strategies, whose offices are at the Willard.

Multimedia—and video specifically—is becoming an ever-critical component of the package that clients seek from PR firms, Nahigian says. And as many PR firms don’t own their own studios, he says, Big Whig Media may give his firm a leg up in the D.C. market.

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