10 Questions with ... Vincent "Rockwell" Usuriello
June 16, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WONY 90.9FM/2005-2009, Sirius XM/2008 - present day.
1) What was your first job in radio or the music business? Early influences?
My first job out of college was my gig with SiriusXM. I was a Music Coordinator and worked my way up to PD. While in college, I worked for my college radio station, WONY 90.9FM, as a DJ, Public Relations Director and Local Music Director.
2) How long have you been working for Sirius/XM and what led to your current programming position at Octane?
I was an intern for Sirius back in 2008, pre-merger. I came back after the Sirius/XM merger for my second internship in 2009 and was hired full-time in 2010. I've worked on multiple channels in many different genres. That's what attracted me to SiriusXM in the first place, the variety of programming. I've worked on Liquid Metal, The Joint, Metropolitan Opera Channel, Faction and Octane, just to name a few. I helped to create and build new channels like Pearl Jam Radio and Ozzy's Boneyard. But it was getting to program E Street Radio and working directly with Gregg Steele that led to my current position. Gregg saw what I can do as a programmer and trusted me to run Octane and I am grateful for the opportunity. I've also been lucky to have a few mentors in this business, aside from Gregg, it was Jose Mangin that took me under his wing when I joined the company and he's taught everything! Another big influence to me over the years has been Bryan Cullen of Faction. When you surround yourself with great talent and you learn from the best it can take you places. But it's also a lot of hard work, dedication and passion that led me to this position.
3) You are also the PD for E Street Radio. I'm assuming you're a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. Tell us about E Street Radio?
I am a big Bruce fan! E Street Radio is a unique channel at SiriusXM in that all we play is the music of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band! Full concerts twice a day, rare outtakes, studio cuts, live performances, celebrity guest DJs, fan-hosted shows, a covers show and two live call-in shows. It's great how we can construct a channel specifically for one artist and still continually make it interesting. And it's because of Bruce's enormous catalog and passionate fan base that makes the channel so much fun.
4) You've had the opportunity to work with Sirius/XM programming guru Gregg Steele. What are some of the things you've learned from working with him?
I've been privileged to work with Gregg. He has been an amazing mentor to me. Since working with him I've learned a lot about the music business. But also he's really improved my creative writing and creative thinking when it comes to radio programming.
5) Okay, let's talk about Octane now. Arguably, this channel has become one of the most influential Active Rock outlets in the country. When you listen to new music, approximately how important by percentage is gut, research, sales, video play and chart position when determining the status of a record?
I trust my gut more than anything, but I do look at research, sales, social media reactions, YouTube views, Spotify spins, and anything else I can think of to get data on new music. But sometimes there is no data because it's so new. I like to take chances and rely on my gut. Every record is different and there are always several things to consider. So I take all the data I can gather and determine what's best for my listeners.
6) What's your take on current Active Rock music? Is it as good as six months or a year ago, better, or about the same? Give us your take on the Active Rock format as a whole.
Rock ain't dead! It's constantly evolving and we need to evolve with it.
7) Octane has long had a reputation as a "tastemaker" music outlet. While you are aggressive adding new music, you also rely heavily on Octane listener feedback. How does this research process work?
We are lucky to have such a large reach. When I play a record it's heard all over the country. We have listeners everywhere and they are part of the Octane family. We have an exclusive club called the "Octane Airforce" in which the listeners sign up to get the chance to share feedback on the songs we play and tell us what bands they want to hear.
8) Who is one of your favorite artists or songs of this past year and why?
Nothing More, because their album is phenomenal and they put on an amazing live show! Go see them!
9) How much does Octane use social media like Facebook and Twitter to help enhance the overall listener experience?
I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the YouTube channel page to enhance the overall listener experience. I'll post pics and videos as specials air; promote new music and get tons of listener feedback through these outlets.
10) Finally, in your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of working in Satellite Radio as opposed to terrestrial radio?
In my opinion, one of the advantages of satellite radio is no commercials, which leaves more room for music. We have more freedom to take chances and expose new music to a wider audience. It's an audience that is passionate about this kind of music. In fact, so passionate that they are willing to pay for the service to get a channel specially catered to their interests.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
- The Beatles - White Album
- AC/DC - Highway to Hell
- Nothing More - Nothing More
- Bruce Springsteen - The River
- Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II
...and my satellite radio! Ha ha!