10 Questions with ... Brian Holst
November 25, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started at Chapman University as MD of Chapmanradio.com. Joined KX 93.5 when the station launched two years ago for part-time and was promoted to MD in August.
1. How did your time in Australia influence your passion for radio?
I became enamored with the Aussie station Triple J within days of arriving in Sydney --it played 24/7 where I first stayed. Triple J played a fantastic, eclectic mix of mostly-alternative music. It was so distinct and different from anything I heard back in the USA. It was early 2009, before most people were able to easily discover a station like it at home, with a smartphone. It was the first time I found myself wanting to listen to a terrestrial station in years; a breath of fresh air.
What most excited me, however, was that I witnessed my fellow American travelers responding in a similar way to the station. And often times, they were discovering artists they loved from back home, but never received airplay on our own stations. I realize Triple J is fully-funded by their government, so they have a different set of realities than we do back here. All the same, it gave me a lot of confidence that radio is just as relevant as it ever was--and that there was an audience for something very different from what was heard in most major markets at home.
2. What specifically led you to KX 93.5?
I went to Chapman University with the station's founder and PD, Tyler Russell, and we had worked together at the station's online radio station Chapmanradio.com. When I heard about the station as it launched, it was a no-brainer to reach out to Tyler and become involved in every way possible as a volunteer. The station is unlike anything in the area, and it seemed like a very exciting place to involve myself with at its outset. At the time, I had a full-time job that I was not so fond of and I felt like every hour of time I invested here as a volunteer was eventually going to pay off. I'm very grateful that they did.
3. What makes KX 93.5 Unique, Alternative, and Local?
I think that much of what makes us local also makes us alternative and unique on a wider level. They're closely linked. We're the only station in town, so we must appeal to a very wide demo, and that led to our "generational alt rock" format. I think that mindset, on the whole, makes us feature music and content that's a true alternative to mainstream radio.
I also think we're unique in the bond that we form with our listeners. We're passionate and sincere about what we do, and people can sense that. If I can circle back to my first answer: I still tune in to Triple J on occasion. I've found the same is true with many people that visit our part of California. We received an email from a 23-year old woman in Brazil who visited early this year; she still listens to us every day as she gets ready for university.
4. What do you love most about your job?
I love that our structure and format allows me to champion deserving bands and artists that are getting overlooked by many stations. It's something that I find to be very rewarding, as a music lover. The free music isn't so bad, either.
5. As Music Director, how do you stay on top of all new music and what is most important to you?
For me, the most important element of new music consumption is to remember that I can't really keep up with every new song that pops up on a daily basis. I think that when we try to consume a large amount of music in a short amount of time, or always find new music from the same sources each week, we often become less objective about what we hear. So I to try to go back and forth between promo CDs, blogs/The Hype Machine, emailed music submissions, and so on. I find that if I switch it up each day and each week, I'm more inclined to be engaged with what I'm listening to, regardless of whether or not I like it.
I'm a perfectionist and work myself pretty hard, so I have to set pretty strict rules to give myself free time each week to catch up on all of the other things that are important to me!
6. What are music meetings like at KX 93.5?
Our weekly meeting is a trio: Tyler, Jason (our lunch jock), and myself - though guests occasionally sit in. The three of us represent a span of 25 years, and I think the age difference serves our "generational" format well. We reach a consensus in a surprising amount of the time, but the difference in ages also means we don't see eye to eye on some things, too. On the whole, it's a very inclusive and democratic process.
7. Tell us about your Saturday night EDM show, Departure?
Departure is my weekly foray into various alternative/indie electronic and remixes, a change in pace from our usual format to celebrate the energy of Saturday nights. I try to apply our "generational" approach to Departure, as well. I remember being young and hearing my grandma's stories about dancing during the big band era. So much of the EDM that's en vogue today lacks that same sense of broad appeal (though I personally enjoy it), so I include remixes and edits of classic rock & pop, Motown, and music we currently play - all in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. I'm always delighted when I hear from people in their 40s-60s who tell me they enjoy it.
8. What do you like best about living in Orange County?
Quiet nights! I'm surrounded by music for a majority of my day, at work and at home. I like being able to go out for a walk in the evening and know that it's going to be fairly quiet. It's a healthy rest for my ears. Every time I've lived in a densely populated area and visit Orange County, it really hits me, how much I've missed that quiet.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ___________?
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I seldom go out to see bands live!
What are your hobbies?
I like to read about technology, I try to stay up-to-date on that stuff as much as possible. I like to go out for long bike rides, runs, and walks. I try to make time for 1 or 2 video games each year, if my schedule permits.
Last non-industry job?
I worked at a sales firm that sold equipment to sewage treatment plants. Gross.
First record ever purchased?
Depeche Mode, Violator
My mom took me to see Billy Joel at the Forum, back when the LA Lakers still played there. I think I was 8 or 9.