10 Questions with ... Phil Kukawinski
March 12, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started off working as an intern at 89X in 2009. Worked in college radio at Grand Valley State University and at Oakland University (WXOU) all through college. Worked up the intern ladder and became a producer for the Homeboy Show (showcasing local music in Detroit and Windsor). Was hired as a blog writer/music director for AOL Radio for the Indie stations in mid-2012. Hired at 89X as a Programming Assistant/on-air personality (weekends) in the beginning of 2013.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I actually got started in radio by chance. I was going to school at Grand Valley in Grand Rapids, MI and decided to do my own radio show for the campus station. It was all online, but I had to get involved with something to help pass the time. It seemed like a good way to escape for a couple hours each week and listen to whatever I wanted to hear.
2. What led you to 89X four years ago?
Summer of 2009 came around, and Jay Hudson (89X Program Director) invited me to come in to the studio to show me how things worked and let me get an idea of how a real studio should look like. He then told me he needed help twice a week and if Monday's and Wednesday's would be good for me. I've been around ever since.
3. Tell us about your role as Programming Assistant?
As a programming assistant, I help out with scheduling and maintaining logs and dealing with day-to-day activity regarding the music on the station; talking with record labels, promoters etc.
4. How has your job changed since Jay Hudson was promoted to PD?
Since Jay was promoted to PD, it has drastically benefited my position. Being an unpaid intern for three and a half years can take its toll on anyone. I started focusing more on other opportunities in smaller markets and different avenues I could take to move step up the ladder in the business. I was very fortunate to have him bring me on board when he moved up to a higher position of power. I not only have him to thank for getting me interested in radio, but helping me reach the position I'm at today.
5. What part of your job do you like best?
I think that the best part of my job is just interacting with so many different people. I've been building more and more relationships with people and finding out that a lot of them are much more than just a listener or a label rep. It's a lot of fun seeing how everything comes together and how I have a bigger responsibility in helping decide what gets played.
6. What is most important to you when championing new music for 89X?
It's most important to look at how the song sounds overall, but then making sure that it's going to be a good fit for our listeners. Sure, a song might kill it on the charts, but it's all about reading your listeners and knowing what they like and don't like. What works in one market could easily be a total bust in a different market. It needs to make sense for us.
7. What is the weekly music meeting like at the station?
Our music meetings are fairly laid back. Something about listening to music for a meeting makes it seem like it's hardly a meeting. We listen to songs we think could do well for us and then figure out what's doing well and what's doing poor. We are more a hybrid between alternative and active rock. The charts slightly influence us, but we're more concerned whether songs are a fit for the station. I can't give away our secrets though...
8. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
The Internet. Whether it's for work, or just browsing Facebook, it's basically a daily fix that needs to be satisfied. I would most likely turn into a caveman if I wasn't around technology.
9. What would surprise people most about you?
Normally it's my age that always surprises people. I just turned 23, but I've been around the station for so long that people just assume I'm older. I grow a beard, so that helps me look older. But, when I shave it off, I look like a 13 year old. Other than that, I'm not really too full of surprises. I'm essentially an open book.
10. What's the story behind your nickname PK?
Fun story... I went by "Phil The Intern" for the longest time. Once I was actually hired, the "intern" part no longer applied. Some people were calling me "Pheezy," but that doesn't fit for alternative rock. I brainstormed some ideas with my family and friends, and we landed on PK. Nice and simple!
What are your hobbies?
I love playing hockey. I've been skating for about 18 years now. I used to play a lot of video games as well, but that has gone down significantly with having a job and having more human interaction. There's only so many times you can throw an Xbox controller after dying in Call of Duty before you realize it's supposed to be fun.
Last non-industry job?
I actually worked as a hockey instructor at a local ice arena for about a year and a half. I taught kids (ages 4-7) how to skate and how to play.
First record ever purchased?
Embarrassingly enough, the first CD I bought was the single to "Quit Playin' Games With My Heart" by the Backstreet Boys. I still know all the words... Don't judge me...
I went to a lot of local shows when I was in high school, which explains my passion for the local music scene. Excluding that, I saw After Midnight Project and Ashes Of Soma play at a small bar just outside of Detroit. It was also the first time I met Jay in person.
Favorite band of all-time?
This is way too tough a question... I've never hated anything from Rise Against, Hollywood Undead, and Tupac. Right now, I'm really digging Hollywood Undead, Silverstein, and Twenty One Pilots. There are tons that I'm not including, but there are just too many to pick only one.