10 Questions with ... Astra
April 2, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Since the age of two, I have always been in the limelight. I started off as a print work model, which eventually led into television work. I interned at MTV and landed my first industry-related job at News 12 Long Island where I was an assignment desk editor and associate producer. I later landed my first on-air gig at WXXP (now WPTY) Party 105.3 where I did middays for a few years. I was also a part of their sister stations WLIR and WDRE. My next step was New York City; I became the morning show producer for WNEW (The New Mix 102.7), where I worked with Michelle Visage and Joe Causi. I also did voiceover work for various radio and TV commercials nationwide. I landed the night show at 106.1 BLI in 2005 and after five years, I was moved up to middays where I continue to live my dream from 9a-2p.
1) What led you to a career in radio?
My passion had always been in the entertainment/media industry. I was a Communications major and Spanish minor in college with hopes of being a TV news reporter. While in college, I heard about a new radio station that was launching and figured I would check it out to see what the radio industry was all about. After getting a taste of both the television and radio world, I decided to sit back and see where life would take me. Fast-forward 12 years, and the rest is history!
2) What are you doing social media-wise?
Funny thing is ... I am known as the social media queen at 106.1 BLI. I have been on top of social media since the way beginning (before MySpace was big). My PD Jeremy Rice used to make jokes about how I had thousands of friends; however, now that everyone is "catching on," I feel like it's about time that they decided to get on board the social media train ... LOL. I am heavily involved with posting on all platforms of social media because I feel that it's a great outlet to connect on a more personal level with the listeners. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or FourSquare, I'm a huge believer in responding to everyone who reaches out to me. Crazy to admit, but my iPhone is like my lifeline! Anywhere I go, I check in, I post pics and I give everyone a taste of what's going on in my life because most people relate and love to know that I may be at one of their favorite places or talking about something that they have a personal connection with. I can't lie - sometimes I think I need rehab for my social media addiction. With that said, feel free to follow me on Twitter / Instagram - @AstraOnTheAir or on Facebook where you can find me under Astra On The Air.
3) What is your favorite part of the job?
Besides being able to listen to my favorite type of music on a daily basis, I love hosting events and being able to meet one-on-one with the listeners. It's even more amazing to see how excited they are to meet us! In fact, there have been many times that a listener will bring up something that I talked about on the air - that I may not even recall, but it makes me realize the impact that we make in their lives and it's a great feeling. I also LOVE conducting interviews with our core artists. It's always been a passion of mine to get up close and personal with them and I love having fun, "out of the box" type of interviews that leave lasting impressions on the artist, the listener and myself!
4) What is the most challenging part of the job?
Being able to maintain and compose yourself despite what's going on in your personal life is a true challenge. We are entertainers; we need to sound happy and bubbly all the time. People always ask me how I do it, especially knowing that everyone is entitled to having bad days. I explain to them that during hard times, it's like being an actress. You have to put your game face on and not lead anyone to believe that something is wrong. At the end of the day, we all have a job to do and as a radio personality, our job is to make sure that we keep our audience entertained at all times - despite how we may be feeling inside. It's definitely challenging and I love challenges!
5) What's the coolest promotion you've EVER been involved with?
It would have to be a promotion that I came up with when I worked for Party 105. It was a "Date-A-DJ" promotion. The on-air personalities were all auctioned off on dates to the highest bidders, with all proceeds going to the American Heart Association. To ensure safety, we had a group date where we all got into a limo and we were taken to Dave and Busters where we had dinner and played games with our dates. It was definitely a fun time and a really cool promotion, plus it was all for a good cause.
6) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Growing up in NYC and on Long Island, I was always a fan of the Z Morning Zoo on Z100 and Ed, Lisa and Dre on Hot 97. When my mom would drive me to school, I would bounce between the two stations because I couldn't make up my mind which morning show I wanted to hear. In fact, I still have (packed away somewhere) a cassette tape that I bought of the Z Morning Zoo and all of the prank calls that they used to do. The only problem I have right now is if I find the tape, I don't have a cassette player to play it in! Anyway, after school I always tuned in to Cubby and Kid Kelly! In my teenage years, I actually got to meet Cubby and thought it was the coolest thing ever! Now he actually knows who I am and there's a small part of me that gets freaked out about that because I never thought back then that I would be known by someone I grew up listening to ... or even be where I am today.
7) Looking back, which years hold the best musical memories for you and who were your favorite acts at that time?
I would have to say, being an '80s, baby, I'm a HUGE fan of that genre of music, as well as early '90s. The first two posters that I had hanging in my room were of Michael Jackson and Boy George. I was in love with them for years, then I fell in love with George Michael. As for the '90s, it was all about NKOTB plastered on my walls, and they were actually my first concert experience. I was always in love with Jordan Knight. All these years, I have never been star-struck over anyone, but when Jordan came to the BLI studio last year, I'm embarrassed to say, I felt like a 12-year-old girl! I could barely speak and got so nervous. We ended up tweeting each other and long story short, he ended up giving me tickets to the NKOTBSB show and we still keep in touch today. I must confess -- I still feel like a little kid inside when I talk to him ... awkward!
8) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
I was always told - if you love what you do for a living, you'll never work a day in your life. That statement speaks volumes! I love my job and everything that it entails. I love to be challenged and I love to be creative and I feel that I'm able to do both in this industry. There's so much more that I have to give, and I look forward to having the opportunity to advance and grow even more as time goes on.
9) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Follow your dreams and never give up! Pick up an internship to get your foot in the door and while you're there, ask tons of questions! Don't think that any question you may have is a "stupid" one; there's no such thing! I love when my interns bombard me with questions because I know that they are genuinely interested in learning about the business. I also suggest that you go above and beyond and make sure to learn every aspect of the industry, from on-air, to promotions, to sales, because you may go into it thinking that you want to do one thing, and you may end up coming out of it actually doing something totally different!
10) What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
I would like for stations to integrate more video-related content. I've always been a firm believer of putting visuals with audio. Although radio is known for "theatre of the mind," I believe that people enjoy seeing something more than actually just hearing it, which is why more and more people turn to video websites like YouTube. I used to set up a webcam in the studio and do my show live on air and on the web. It allowed for listeners to actually feel a bit more connected, as they were able to put an image to what they heard and I would also interact with them while conducting my show.
For years, I have made sure to videotape my on-air interviews that are done in studio, so I can post them up on YouTube to allow the listeners to actually see what's going on in the studio and as of recently, I turn to Twitter to get listener related questions for my upcoming interviews to give the listener a chance to get up close and personal with their favorite celebrity. Sometimes we are the closest person the listener may have that has the chance to connect with their idol, so I always try to do my best to get them as close as possible - even if it means asking a celebrity their random outlandish question.
What was your last non-industry job?
While I was in between TV and Radio jobs at one point, I went to bartending school and ended up being a bartender for about tw oyears. While the money was amazing, my mother decided to put the guilt trip on me that I didn't go to college to be a bartender. But hey - that doesn't mean that I still don't dabble in some "guest bartending" gigs from time to time - just don't tell her! P.S. - I make some amazing drinks!