10 Questions with ... Seena Akita
March 24, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Born in Japan, raised in the Bay Area, I interned at Entercom/Sacramento while earning my undergrad at UC Davis until I became hired to do promotions and part-time on-air for KDND, 107.9 The End. I also become the Digital & Online Promotions Coordinator for the cluster. A couple years in, I decided I needed a change so I up and left to L.A. for the heck of it. Two weeks in town, I was hired by then newly launched 97.1 AMP Radio at CBS L.A. I worked my way up, landing on the Carson Daly Morning Show and later promoted to my own shift as the overnight DJ.
Due to a family emergency, I went back to the Bay and worked for Clear Channel-iHeartMedia/SF. There I was Social Media Manager, on-air part-time at Wild 94.9 KYLD, weekends at Star 101.3 KIOI and middays at Hit Radio 92.9 KOSO/Modesto. A year-and-a-half later, I got an opportunity to return to KAMP/Los Angeles and now I'm on every weeknight from 10p-2a!
SOCIAL MEDIA: Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat http://facebook.com/SeenaBook
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
My first taste of radio was actually at my community college before transferring to UC Davis. I'm from Fremont, CA and there's an excellent radio program at Ohlone College there. It's not your typical college radio station just playing indie stuff. 89.3 KOHL is a Top 40 that looks and runs like any other commercial station I've worked at. Bob Dochterman and Tom Briseno taught my classes and mentored me. They were great but I was such a brat back then, LOL! I didn't quite get that I had to go in on (gasp) my weekends and the more time I put in the better I'd get. Wish I was smarter about that then, but I'm so grateful for their guidance. They were the first to tell me I had potential.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
When I was a kid, I watched my American cousins obsess over the radio and wait to record songs on cassette. I didn't know much English then (having just immigrated to the U.S.) so songs on the radio were an easy way to learn the language. Mariah. Bell Biv DeVoe. Paula Abdul. Boyz II Men. They taught me! For playtime, I used to pretend I had my own radio show, record it on cassette and even had "guests" on ... I forced my little sibling and cousin to participate. We had sound effects and errythang! It was pretty profesh. I was just always fascinated by radio.
3) What are you doing, social media-wise?
Everything! Twitter, Insta, Snapchat, Vine, even this new one called Ocho. You name it, I'm doing it. I used to work as a Social Media Manager so I know how important it is to keep up. It's all just different ways of reaching your audience and I love having fun with it! It's amazing that social media gives you the ability to talk to people you otherwise wouldn't have a direct connect to. Once, during an overnight shift at AMP Radio, Rihanna was tweeting that she was listening to my show. I love being able to see in real-time what's happening in my city, around the world, or what listeners are into. None of my friends even text anymore! They just send me Snap DMs instead. You can, too! @TheSeena
4) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Sufjan Stevens? I think people are surprised when he pops up during shuffle play. When I worked as a waitress back in the day, a customer came in with a Black Label Society shirt. He was pretty surprised when I made a comment about Zakk Wylde. The only music my dad listened to in the house growing up was either Elvis or Country music, so knowing the words to "The Thunder Rolls" or "Friends In Low Places" shocks people. I'm all over the place, man.
5) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
How difficult of a journey it's been for me to get to where I am now. And I don't just mean career-wise, but life. I hate playing victim or letting obstacles define me so I don't go around advertising the fact that I came from an intense and difficult childhood. My family came to this country with little money, I didn't know a word of English, and for a while we lived in a very small house of at least 11 people. I was bullied a lot, too, and not just by strangers. But before this becomes a laundry list, I'm proud of overcoming my various struggles. It's pretty f'n amazing to, at one point in my life, not know a lick of English and NOW I'm on a mic speaking perfect (well, most of the time, ha ha) English that's broadcast to one of the biggest markets in the country!
6) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
When I was at 107.9 The End in Sacramento, Matt Wheeler, who's the Imaging Director, taught me how to structure breaks, sell contests, how to project my voice, all that fun beginner's manual stuff. I was pretty stubborn then, but good thing he's even more stubborn! Without him, there's no way I would be a good jock today. Tony Ng, the Digital Program and Activations Director at iHeartMedia/S.F. taught me how being diplomatic and patient can really pay off in a workplace. He is THE most level-headed person in radio I've ever seen! Also the kindest-hearted. In L.A. at AMP, our afternoon DJ Chris Booker was the first to motivate me to keep working on my aircheck. He really pushed and never sugar-coated. Hey, constructive criticism in radio can be rough, but it's only gonna make you better. I took his advice and really started to tap into my potential. He continues to be one of my biggest supports and it's really humbling. When I used to do the overnight shift into Carson Daly's morning show, Carson would come into the studio early just to teach me how to do crossover breaks and give me tips. I'll never forget that. Our APD John Michael has always supported my growth as an on-air talent. And of course, I wouldn't even be working at AMP Radio without Kevin Weatherly. His vision, passion for the industry and honest care for his employees inspires me to do the best work I can, every show, every break.
Two people in my career I would be a mess without: Jared from 101.9 KINK/Portland and Tim Virgin from 97.9 The Loop/Chicago. They always had a sister's back when it came to the business side of this industry. Hey, that stuff's important, too. I feel lucky to have people to thank.
7) Looking back, which years hold the best musical memories for you and who were your favorite acts at that time?
When I was like, in middle school, we had off-campus lunch, meaning we could leave the grounds. There was a CD store down the street and I remember giving up the chance to eat on two occasions to pick up a new release. The first was Backstreet Boys "Millennium" and the second was "Return of Saturn" by No Doubt. That was a big deal to me! Music was never really played at my house so I felt pretty late to the game. And when I discovered TRL? It became my life! Carson Daly was my idol. I told him that once (since we work together) and I had a real "full-circle" moment ha ha ... It's pretty awesome that he's just as cool of a guy as I thought watching him on TRL.
8) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
I love fashion! I'm working to launch a new project, a fashion and lifestyle website/blog called Fitted Los Angeles. I hope to have my own clothing boutique someday. I do Crossfit but I won't go into that since people hate on how much Crossfit members talk about Crossfit LOL ... I also have an interest in hosting, not just radio, but TV, and seeing where that goes ... L.A.'s the right place to explore that!
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
You know when someone says they listen to everything? I reaaaally listen to everything! It all depends on what's going on. Radio, CDs, playlists I make ... I always listen to Beyonce when I'm getting ready to go out. My latest thing is listening to a lot of mix shows or mixes on Soundcloud. My friend DJ J. Espinosa out of San Francisco has some great ones. So does my younger brother, who produces music and goes by Foxsky. I also host a series of fun mixes with DJ Footy. If all else fails? "Free The Universe" album by Major Lazer. There's something for every mood I'm in. And anything Diplo touches is a for sure win.
10) What advice (would you) give people new to the business?
Don't be a d**k! LOL. Maybe a more PC way of putting it is ... Radio is such a small world. You never know who you'll meet again down the road, who you'll be working with or more importantly FOR. Being a nice, honest person goes a long way. And be nice to EVERYONE. Not just your managers or programmers, but engineers, sales, interns, etc. Do you know how many times I've gotten quicker help just because I was nice to someone? It all comes back.
Oh, and don't steal anything. I ain't ever seen that end well.
What ringtone do you have on your cel?
No surprise to those who know me... "Butter's Theme" from Diplo's "Express Yourself" EP, which I've asked my friends, at my funeral, to play in its entirety. Can you even imagine? With a twerk wall?! Amazing. That's a way to go out!