Rob and Chris Buccini, Mayor Baker's best friends, have stated that the rehabilitation of The Queen Theatre at 5th & Market Street is their most important project ever. For two gentlemen who have radically transformed Wilmington's cityscape, who have multiple hotel properties in VA and MA and a presence in China, that's quite a quote.
In addition to what The Queen will offer to Delawareans, it's location is strategic as well – dead center in the middle of Market, linking the hub of the city to the Riverfront.
“Lighting up The Queen” is scheduled for April I. Having The Queen a satellite of Philly's popular World Cafe Live was crucial to the venture. Here's some background.
In 1998 music lover and lawyer Hal Real approached WXPN/88.5, U of Penn Radio Station. He was a huge fan of DJ David Dye's widely acclaimed World Cafe show, an eclectic blend of new music, live performances and interviews featuring local and national acts. The show was broadcast over 200 stations nationwide.
Real wanted to “radically change the landscape for contemporary artists and audiences”. His idea was to create World Cafe Live, a for profit venue for grownups that was the physical extension of the experience World Cafe listeners had in their homes.
Six years and $15 million later, World Cafe Live's concert and dining opened near the Penn campus. The radio station moved in the same building.
World Cafe Live employs 80 people, mounts about 550 shows annually showcasing 1200 artists. Meanwhile, on the non-profit radio side, XPN has grown exponentially, employing 25 people, embracing 25,000 dues paying members and 300,000 loyal regional listeners. It gains adherents by the very physical presence of the venue.
The two partners are under the same roof sharing a common passion for music but they operate independently. XPN licenses the World Cafe Live name to Real Entertainment for an annual fee.
This unique and innovative for-profit/nonprofit partnership has been so successful it has been dubbed the model for future relationships between public broadcasters and private enterprise.
I am not sure who sought out whom for The Queen, but having World Cafe Live installed here creates instant market credibility with both XPN's member base and the international music community. Thousands of Delawareans listen to XPN daily.
With the licensing money from the Hal Real, XPN has been able to extend their brand. They can offer higher quality, bigger bands and more bands. Musicians play at World Cafe Live and are interviewed on the station. That's convenience. Additionally, XPN is adding new affiliates; Dallas, LA and Milwaukee just this year.
For the consumer, how two separate entities with two disparate missions work together is irrelevant. The fact is they do...quite successfully. The commonality of purpose is born in their passion for music. Together they have created this tres cool 'clubhouse' for the music, the arts and the general community.
The Non-COMM Convention, a major event for the music industry, will be hosted by The Queen this year. Real had attended the conference for a decade and then acquired the rights. It is now wholly owned by WXPN. The timing was perfect for this year. Wilmington will be host to many important personages in the industry and some major music names; an energizing send off for the facility.
The Buccini brothers hope that The Queen will be the rock thrown in the pond; that The Queen will become the center of Wilmington's creative universe and the ripple effect will be felt by us all.
For the acts this year visit Queen.worldcafelive.com/