10 Questions with ... Mark Abuzzahab
May 11, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
PD of KKXT/Dallas and WNCS/Burlington, VT, MD of KBCO/Denver and KGSR/Austin, and I got my start in radio working part-time at the legendary Rev-105 in Minneapolis.
1. Give us an overview of what VuHaus is all about. Where did the initial funding come from?
VuHaus is a non-profit, digital video music service, funded by a generous grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. VuHaus will take studio performances and interviews from our non-commercial partner stations and make them available nationally through our app, website and embeddable player, which will be part of member stations' websites.
What sets us apart is our collaborative nature, local city pages that will be curated by each station, and that our app and website will provide a seamless viewing process. The playlists will be hand-picked by humans, not computers, and unlike other websites you won't have to sift through cat videos or endless ads to see the music you want to see. And best of all, since our library of music comes from our member stations, the performances themselves are better and more intimate than the studio versions. As someone who spent countless hours in record stores searching for imports and b-sides, I know there are other music lovers who want to hear a live or acoustic version of their favorite song rather than a generic lyric video.
2. How did you get involved with the project?
I first heard about VuHaus from Mike Henry at Paragon. I thought it was a great idea and what attracted me to it the most was a chance to work with many different non-commercial stations on a national level.
3. With one year in the making, you are just about ready to launch. Tell us what you plan to do for that.
The official launch will be at the Non-Commvention in Philadelphia. VuHaus will make WXPN's live stream of the evening music showcases available through all VuHaus platforms. For industry people who will be at the convention, there will be a VuHaus panel on Friday morning that will preview the site and answer a lot of the questions that are out there about VuHaus. If you're not going to be at the Non-Commvention, you can watch the live stream on one of the member station websites or through the VuHaus website or app.
4. What have been some of your biggest challenges to get it ready?
As with any start-up, there is a lot of work to do to get ready, but we have a great team and I can't wait to share VuHaus with everyone. The biggest challenge has probably been clearing up the confusion about VuHaus and letting people in the industry know what we are about.
5. Who are the original participating stations?
WFUV/New York, KCRW/Los Angeles, WXPN/Philadelphia, KUTX/Austin and KTBG/ Kansas City. And we just added KEXP/Seattle, with more to come.
6. How does this benefit them?
The biggest benefit to the stations is exposure on a national level. Most radio stations post videos of their live sessions on YouTube, and if you ask stations why, usually one of the first responses is 'to attract new people to the videos.' VuHaus will also attract new viewers on a national level, especially music lovers, because we will have playlists, local station sites and live streaming events. YouTube is still like the wild west -- you never know what you are going to get. On VuHaus, you can select songs or playlists, and because the videos are of such high quality, people are really going to like the experience and get lost in all of the great content.
I also think that radio isn't the competition -- the biggest challenge facing radio today is competition from other media. Audiences are distracted and have more options than ever before. Radio stations aren't competing with other stations, they are really competing for their listeners' time. When I was programming KKXT, I noticed many of my P1s were very savvy about the industry and routinely streamed other public stations like KCRW and KCMP. While all of our member stations are unique, the one thing they share is a passion for music. All of the stations will be stronger for working together towards a common goal and trying to share our love of music with a bigger audience, and also by making it easier for our audience to stream our content when and where they want to.
7. How can other stations become involved?
We are launching with six to seven stations, and we expect to be up to 10 stations by this summer. By this time next year there should be at least 15 stations as part of this collaboration, and looking past that we will add more stations as our capacity allows.
8. How does the public participate?
The best thing to do is support our member stations that are working hard to cater to their audiences and help develop artists' careers at the same time. Become a member of your local station, and for industry people, keep bringing artists to stations for live sessions. And of course everyone should download our app or visit our website www.vuhaus.com
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Other than having a cluttered office, I have bicycled to every radio station that I've worked at. I no longer fear death after riding on the I-35 service road to KGSR. Anyone who has ever driven a car out of that parking lot knows what I mean, now imagine doing that on a bicycle.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I've always wanted to drive one of the support vehicles in the Tour de France. You can't beat the scenery or the one month a year work schedule.