10 Questions with ... Astra
March 3, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
SOCIAL MEDIA: www.facebook.com/AstraOnTheAirFans Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat & Vine: @AstraOnTheAir
Fresh out of college, after interning at both MTV and News 12 Long Island, while also helping to kick off Party 105 on Long Island, I was hired at News 12 as an assignment desk editor and writer. A few years later, I started my on-air radio career at Party 105 and WLIR. I had also helped to run the promotions department for Party 105, WLIR and 98.5 The Bone. After four years, I was hired at CBS at the former Mix102.7 (now Fresh 102.7) in promotions and then I was brought in to work with the morning show hosted by Michelle Visage and Joe Causi. A year later I was offered nights at 106.1 BLI on Long Island which I held for five years, and then transitioned to middays for over three years. During that time, I voicetracked mornings for Power 100.1 in Athens, GA, as well as weekends on Hits 97.3 in Miami. This past September 2014, my dream came true when I was offered to host afternoon drive in NYC on The New 92.3 AMP radio!
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
Since I didn't go to school for radio (I took television broadcasting), my first radio gig was my introduction to radio. It was like a real life, hands on Radio 101. I learned pretty much everything I needed to know -- how to run the board, how to edit audio -- everything. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't be where I am today.
2) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
I absolutely LOVE 92.3 AMP radio and our brand. My PD Rick Thomas is a brilliant guy with a vision like no other. Not only are we music intensive, playing at least 25 songs in a row commercial-free four times a day, every day, but we focus on also being the first in N.Y. to introduce new music, and many times break new artists while also focusing on core artists. Many stations tend to have a super-tight playlist which leads listeners to say they hear the same songs over and over again. The great thing about AMP is that while playing our core artists, we mix in new music while also sprinkling in select "throwbacks," giving the listeners more of chance to not necessarily feel that way.
Another thing that stands out about my station is how genuine our team is. We are truly like a family! There's no feeling of segregation. Besides interacting inside the building, we all find it a point to also interact outside of the building on our off time, which creates a certain bond/friendship ... it's an indescribable feeling.
3) What are you doing, social media-wise?
More like what am I NOT doing? LOL! From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, Snapchat and Vine, I have always been a huge believer in social media -- even way before it "blew up." (I come from the MySpace and Friend Finder days #Throwback.) I find social media to be an amazing platform to interact with listeners and it gives them the ability to feel like they are on a more personal level with you as well as their favorite artists and celebrities. Make sure you're following me! I'd love to connect with you! @AstraOnTheAir.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
Everything! I actually find myself sleeping less because I'm anxious to go into work every day! I work with an amazing, talented and most importantly PASSIONATE team. I have been blessed to now be working in NYC -- the greatest city in the world -- and talk to so many different people, and I look forward to this amazing new chapter in my life and I continue to challenge myself every day to succeed.
5) What is the most challenging part of the job?
Keeping the listeners coming back for more. As we all know, the music is the star, however I also believe the personality is the bridge that connects the listener to the music while also keeping them entertained. Things we say and do have to be compelling and intriguing enough to attract them to crave more. One little thing you say can either win over a listener for life, or lose one forever.
6) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
The promotion we did to kick off AMP's new jock lineup while branding our commercial-free sweeps. We promised to play at least 25 songs in a row, commercial-free and if we played any less or you heard a commercial before we played 25 songs, we would hand over $25,000! I was lucky enough to give one of the giveaways away along with our night jock, Toro, and our winner was amazing! It's always good to have an energetic and positive winner, especially when it comes to a cash prize.
7) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
I was introduced to this event called Paint Nite, and ever since the first time I painted (while drinking some wine) I have been obsessed! I probably have about 12 paintings that I have done. I joke around and call my apartment an art gallery! Hey maybe I'll consider selling some just so I can make room for new ones!
8) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
It is a new adventure every day. New music is constantly coming out; there's always new celebrity gossip every day; there's always something compelling to talk about. It's not monotonous and boring. Every time you get to crack the mic, it allows your creativity to shine while also challenging your execution and keeping you on your toes.
9) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Show people exactly how hungry you are. Ask a TON of questions, because there are no stupid ones. Utilize your time to learn as much as you can. Be willing to go above and beyond to express your interest and most importantly, COMMUNICATE. Plus, be willing to work overnights, holidays and more. We all had to pay our dues and clearly that hard work pays off. Stay positive and you will succeed.
10) What is the current state of the radio 'talent pool'?
Talent is defined differently by different people. What you may find talented, someone else may not. In the end, radio is very subjective. There is a lot of talent out there, however not everyone has the opportunity to be given the chance to showcase that talent. I believe voicetracking takes jobs away from those who may be talented enough to host that time slot live. Radio has always been known as an auditory form of media, forcing the listener to utilize their mind to paint the picture that is being described. However, when it comes to evolving technology, we as an industry (that some people believe is a "dying" industry) are forced to change with the times. With that said, some of the really talented radio personalities that come from the "old school" generation find it difficult to adapt to the rapidly changing technology. It's almost a prerequisite to have a following on social media that can allow promotional crossovers. People in radio are also no longer known as "having a face for radio." Their talent has to be able to cross over and shine on camera for video related bits that are being implemented on radio station websites.
For someone vacationing in your market, what one thing would you say they "must see"?
Besides getting amazing photos for Instagram and Facebook in Times Square, I would also suggest heading down to ground zero to see the Freedom Tower while paying respect to those who we lost on that tragic September 11th. There is also a museum on site with actual memorabilia on display, which is also a must-see.