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Rochester Insomniac's Palmateer joins All WNY News & Radio


All WNY News & Radio is about to go through a bit of a growth spurt with new additions to "the family" to announce in the coming days and weeks. Our first announcement: Former Rochester Insomniac Publisher Joe Palmateer joins us as a columnist.

Palmateer's column, entitled "The Ether," will largely focus on local music -- but as with any All WNY columnist, his space is his to mold as he sees fit, so don't be surprised if there's a random column some week about his favorite type of marsupial. It's unlikely ... but as we've gotten to know Joe, he might take that previous sentence as a challenge ... so maybe it's not that unlikely.

His column kicks off on Sunday and will run each Sunday here in this space.

To get to know him a little better, we've put together a brief question-and-answer. If you want to know more, feel free to email him at joe.palmateer@allwnyradio.com.


Q: What's your interest in the local music scene?

A: I started sneaking into local shows when I was in high school. Listening to stuff I have never heard of always got a rise out of me. That change you feel in the air when a good band starts playing is addicting. I have been attracted to dive venues with the bad sound system like a moth to a flame. Even when I would come back to Rochester after living in other places the first thing I would do is look up local shows. Rochester has a diverse and incredibly interesting music scene that I haven't been able to find anywhere else.

Do you play music yourself?

I do not. I dabbled in guitar when I was younger but nothing came from it. I worked a lot of construction and brute labor jobs throughout the years and my hands show it. Oversized knuckles and digits set at weird angles don't work out well when trying to produce good sounds out of any instrument.  My head has always been set on writing. So I am happy to play the part of an appreciative bystander.

Tell me about Rochester Insomniac. Why and how did you start it?

The idea came about six years ago. After spending a night at a show, my friend and I would stay up drinking and complain that no one paid the right attention to the local music. We would mock the attempts of the Rochester Insider at the time. Talking ourselves up as the kind of people who knew where the real shows were. When the Insider closed its doors we were left with nothing to complain about at the idea to start our own blog started.

The Insomniac started as a Wordpress blog. We would try to shanghai musicians after their shows and get a quick interview.  Eventually, we got better at it and turned it into its own website. My friend who helped started it moved onto other interests. I assembled an ever changing pirate crew of like-minded college dropouts and the site eventually grew into a physical magazine. All of us were learning the ins and outs of what that actually meant as we published zines. Writing, layout, print, advertising, distribution all was done haphazardly and unprofessionally. At one point there was about five of us living in an office behind the Cadillac hotel. Best described as the best and worst years of my life. I learned everything not to do during that time and had a lot of fun failing. By 2015 we had figured out a groove and started actually hitting deadlines. 2016 was the first fully completed run of six issues with 10,000 copies each distributed across the city.

And why were you unable to continue it?

There wasn't one particular thing that made me decide to retire the magazine. I think all in all the magazine was growing faster than our knowledge level and resources could handle. Everyone involved was at some level of burnt out. I personally wrote about 400 articles last year between the magazine and my own freelance work. I think if I decided to brute force my way through another year of production the end result would not have been at the level I would want. Better to end on a high note rather than crash and burn a project that has consumed my life over the last six years.

What do you do professionally?

My work life is spent between writing and cooking, which are my primary interests. I am currently the head cook at Marshall Street Bar. We have been building up a catering business for the last couple years and are in the middle of building a second kitchen. Another fun example of learning about an industry on the fly. I get the same rush organizing large catering events as I do publishing a magazine. There is a lifestyle and energy that seems to fit both worlds.

As far as writing goes my freelance topics are all over the place. Now that the magazine is done I grab up whatever assignments I can.  Anything from top ten lists, to history pieces, to larger research pieces. Music writing is what I started doing, so there is always a special place in my heart for it. I have spent so much time and brain power on Rochester music scene it would be a shame not to keep writing about it.

Aside from music, what are your interests?

When I am not working on something I am usually reading to speed listening to podcasts. I have been devouring books lately especially philosophy and history books. Podcasts are huge, especially when you are on the go and don't have time to sit in one place and read. Last I checked I subscribe to about 30 shows. I have gotten into the habit of listening to some on 1.5X speed in an attempt to keep up to date on them. Probably not the smartest or sanest way to consume media. It fits me.

What do you want readers to know about you?

Besides what has been listed above there is not much to know. Everything else sounds like the standard author biography on the back flap of a book. “Joseph Palmateer lives in Rochester NY with his lovely girlfriend and two dogs”.

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