10 Questions with ... Chris Basista
February 18, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1. Chris, What made you decide to start Electric FM?
My vision for ElectricFM started in early 2007. I was always an avid lover of Dance music and wanted to create a music outlet that plays Dance music you normally wouldn't hear anywhere else. My inspiration came from Toronto-based MuchMusic. I was a big fan of MuchMusic dating back to early 2000 when I would watch MuchMusic constantly. They inspired me to create ElectricFM because they had a different approach to music programming. They strived on being different, script-less, and made sure the fans felt welcomed. I personally experienced MuchMusic back in 2003, and what they showed on television was exactly how the station ran. It was the real-deal with no fakeness. Unfortunately, they are now a shell of their former self, which really saddens me. So instead of living in the past, I decided, why not do something about it to react? I took the inspiration they had given me over the years and decided to create ElectricFM. I planned out the station in 2007 and formally launched it on February 4th, 2008. I am happy with the past six years, as ElectricFM has grown to be one of the bigger Dance radio station players in the online radio industry.
2. What have been some of your biggest challenges running an Internet radio station?
Running an online station is not as easy as most would want to think. I run ElectricFM on the same software that traditional FM stations use. That way, our presentation is strong and we have the features we need to do anything that a traditional over-the-air station does. From simple music scheduling and play-out to conducting live remotes, we are ready to face pretty much anything. The biggest challenges include making sure we are in compliance with all of the royalty organizations, and always making sure our connections to the Internet are operational. Since we rely on Internet for transmission, I make sure our website is always accessible and that our stream is being sent out to all our servers properly. We have redundancy in place to ensure close to 100% uptime. Other challenges aside from technical are labels. With the help of PromoOnly, we have been able to easily interact with many record labels. When we were first starting out, it was sometimes difficult to get conversations going since we are only online. I am pleased to say that as time went on, this challenge is no more. I am beginning to see online radio taken more seriously when compared to years ago.
3. Having a world wide audience, how do your mix shows appeal to such a wide range of tastes?
Since ElectricFM is worldwide, I cannot just look at the music industry domestically. I also turn to Europe and other overseas countries to see what is popular. With our mix shows, we are currently airing mix shows from the world's biggest DJs. What I like about the bigger DJs is that their music selections match closer to the music we play on ElectricFM. This goes hand in hand with our format, as the music in the mix show programming complements our daytime format, especially when non-vocal tracks are aired on our mix shows. It provides a unique experience and caters to those who are ready to go out and have fun on the weekends.
4. Does Electric FM do a lot of social media and if so, what platforms are you on?
ElectricFM currently uses social media. We use Facebook and Twitter primarily to talk about what's happening on the station and to interact with our listeners. I am always looking for other social media outlets, and when there is one of interest, we jump on it. Social media is typically the easiest way to get the word out about what's happening and provide a platform for people to interact back with us in near real-time.
5. I know that you're a bit of a night owl; how does this affect your communication with the labels?
I love staying up late! I've always been a night owl, since I tend to get my work done better at night. For labels, a lot usually e-mail instead of call. This makes it easy to respond, since time isn't an issue when dealing with e-mail. For those labels who do want to do a phone call, it's not really an issue since I can always schedule a call and get it done. The night owl aspect doesn't really affect our communications.
6. New Jersey is the target of a lot of jokes from around the country, but what are some of the things that you love about the state?
New Jersey is always the target of jokes (especially lately with Bridgegate), but I wouldn't live anywhere else. I live pretty much right in the middle between New York and Philadelphia. It's the best of both worlds, since you can get to anywhere you need quickly. I also love experiencing the seasons. We finally had a decent winter, despite everyone complaining about the never-ending snow. I like living here since it's still a fast-paced lifestyle, and I am in close proximity to anywhere I need to go. I can't see myself living anywhere else despite how we get picked on!
7. What are some of the steps that you go through to determine what music gets added to the station?
I work on my music logs every Sunday night for the following week. I start out by going through PromoOnly Online, Beatport, direct e-mails from labels, and looking at the web to see what new releases are out. I sample songs and see if they would fit the format. Artists and DJs who have a new release and are currently played on the station are highly considered for adds. Then I examine other songs I liked and determine if it should be added. If a song has a good rhythm, vocal, and sound it will be considered to be added.
8. If a label rep comes out to visit the station and takes you out for lunch, what would be your favorite dining establishment to go to?
I like eating out, so this question is tough! I would have to say I would probably choose a casual dining restaurant, either The Cheesecake Factory or Brio. Those two are my top-two favorites and everyone would probably like their food and atmosphere when discussing music and business. We actually just had a meeting with Tazmania Records and had a nice dinner at Brio. It was a lot of fun.
9. What does your DJ lineup look like? Both on-air and mixers.
Right now, we are in the midst of retooling our entire lineup. For on-air, we are looking to get back into more interactive shows. Awhile back, we did an interactive show late at night. I didn't think anyone would call or want to interact at a late hour. I was quickly proven wrong, and we had a lot of interaction from our listeners all over the globe. I want to bring this back to our station this year and do something different. For our mix shows, we currently have a Weekend Kickoff on Friday night, and the Saturday Night Mixdown. The Friday night show has Ian Solano, The Thrillseekers, Ferry Corsten, JES and Lange. For our Saturday night show, we just released our new lineup. On Saturdays, we have Richard Vission, Morgan Page, Sidney Samson, Carl Kennedy, Jack Eye Jones and Zoltar. I am excited for our new Saturday lineup which starts this weekend.
10: What are some songs that we would be surprised to see in you iPod playlists?
Good question! I have New Radicals on my iPod which I love listening to periodically. It's my all-time favorite album. I also have Fuel, Filter, Switchfoot and Matthew Good Band. Older songs, but they rank high in my personal playlists. A good surprise might be vintage Madonna. I program dance, but have a love for other genres too.
What was the last book you read?
Honestly, I rarely read books. I did purchase Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson when it first came out. That would have to be the last actual book I read. I prefer reading articles and industry magazines online instead.