10 Questions with ... Kurt St. Thomas
January 8, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- BA Radio Television Ashland University 1985
- 85-86 -- WAQX/Syracuse on-air
- 86-87 -- WGIR/Manchester Morning Drive
- 87-95 -- WFNX/Boston Production, MD, and PD
- 95-00 Arista Records, A&R New York
- 00-02 -- Tommy Boy Records, A&R New York
- 05-Present - KROQ/Los Angeles on-air, Producer Jonesy's Jukebox 2011-2012
- 2008-Present -- HOUNDSTOOTHRADIO.COM/ Los Angeles Owner and Creator
- 2012-Present --WFNX.COM/Boston Executive Producer
- Author with Troy Smith Nirvana The Chosen Rejects St. Martin's Press 2005
- Award-winning filmmaker
- Produced and Directed with Mike Gioscia
- "Captive Audience" 2000 Winner Board of Directors' Award Nashville Independent Film Festival "The Red Right Hand" 2002 Winner "F-Word" Valleyfest Knoxville Film Festival
- Directed over 30 music videos, including Brand New, Kathleen Edwards, J Mascis, MC Lars, Reel Big Fish, Hot Rod Circuit, and most recently The Dollyrots
1. After being away for 17 years, what led you back to re-launch WFNX online?
I spoke to Stephen Mindich whom I admire very much. I have always marveled at the fact that he let me be Program Director when I was too young and crazy to run a radio station, but it worked. He let me do what I wanted to do. Very few people are lucky enough to have an opportunity to do that in anything in life, much less in something that burns in your blood. WFNX and Stephen are very special to my heart and I wanted to keep the great tradition of WFNX continuing onward. It's the Wild West but I also believe it is the future.
2. How are you marketing the station?
We are very proactive when it comes to social media. We have a large e-mail list, etc. We are connecting directly to our audience, and for bringing in new listeners we are starting to use good old-fashioned foot-to-pavement. We have a street team and three vans.
3. Explain the creative programming WFNX offers that pushes the radio envelope beyond what WFNX did during its nearly 30 years on the FM dial?
That is a very complicated question. I was one of the main forces along with Michael Bright, Bruce McDonald and Max Tolkoff that created the original sound of the station between 1987-90, which is when the station really started to take shape. All three of them added different elements of building me up as a person and the station. Michael encouraged me to create weird production, Bruce's music knowledge was extensive, and he pushed me to create quality, and Max's in-depth radio experience taught me how the whole machine really worked. It was a combination of forces that warped WFNX's original sound, attitude, and uniqueness. The new team that has been assembled has the same spirit: the desire to break bands and be musically to the left, but also to be credible, informative, smart, weird, funny and different.
Right out of the gate, the station is uncensored. When you hear a song that has been bleeped out for 20 years and it comes up uncensored it changes the whole ballgame. Art is not supposed to be censored, so there is a nice freshness to a lot of the older material.
We have built a robot disc-jockey who is on the air from 5-9a and 6-10p. Let's be honest, radio is pretty much bullshit run by computers and various scheduling software, so if you are going to be a robot, then be a robot. DJ 3001 is a pretty awesome creation. He has personality; he is funny and really loves the band Kraftwerk.
All the jocks have a say in the music and are encouraged to let their personality come through along with their musical taste.
We have a one-hour show Monday-Friday "Boston Accents," dedicated to Boston bands that is hosted by Music Director Michael Marotta.
4. Tell us about the new team at WFNX.com?
Everyone on the staff has worked at WFNX at some point in their career. It's a new team but we all feel at home. I am so blown away by their talent and performance; it's hard to put it in words.
Mike Gioscia is the APD and he is on from 9-noon. He just happens to be my best friend. We met at WFNX in the 90's and have continued to work together over the years, making two independent films and countless music videos together. He is a drummer with excellent musical taste.
Michael Marotta is the MD and also the Music Editor at the Phoenix. There is no one in Boston more plugged into music. He lives and breathes it and is operating about a year ahead of the curve. He host "Boston Accents" from 5-6p.
Sabrina Boyd is the AMD. She is a superstar on every level. She is Afternoon Drive from 2-5p. She was MD at WBRU and plays mostly new music on her show.
Liz Pelly is the Assistant Music Editor at The Phoenix. She is so indie I can't really use the word to describe her because that would not be indie. Ahead of the curve would be an understatement.
DJ 3001 is a robot disc-jockey. He was created by scientists at The Phoenix using some old parts left over from WFNX. He is on 5-9a and 6-10p.
5. WFNX has a long history of breaking new bands. How will you resurrect that legacy and what is most important to you when championing new music?
We have already begun, just look at the playlist. My staff is so incredible at finding music that might actually be the easiest part. I don't look at that as a resurrection, just a continuation laced with methamphetamines.
6. What will surprise people most about the station?
We are funny. It's a bunch of music heads that all have the same sense of humor.
7. Why will WFNX be successful?
Because the staff is so talented and unique it will make everything else sound lame.
8. What would surprise people most about you?
I go to French culinary school, and yes, I can make you lobster bisque or hollandaise sauce.
9. What are you most proud of from your tenure at WFNX from 1987-1995?
All of it really. It changed my life, but I would say my ratings -- six books back-to-back in the 2's. It was the only time in the history of the station and the best numbers.
10. How will WFNX impact Houndstooth Radio and your part-time duties at KROQ?
I welcome chaos and pressure, but it was really affecting culinary school more, which I am on leave from for two months.