10 Questions with ... Reginald Hawkins
February 4, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
An NYU graduate who rose through the ranks at WQHT/New York, he became the PD of Sirius Hip-Hop Nation and Wax in 2004. He was also one of the architects of Eminem's Shade 45.
1. What is it about New York and your job that you like so much?
Curating Hip-Hop culture and being on the pulse of something new before it becomes a trend. The world looks to Hip-Hop to shape popular culture. As a Hip-Hop station, it's always good to be instrumental in the story of the music.
2. How do you decide on what music to play and rotations?
The DJs, instinct and research. We have the luxury of having some of the country's best DJs working on our service who are in the clubs on a nightly basis -- DJ Scream, DJ Skee, DJ Noodles, DJ Eclipse and the legend DJ Premier. They give us a read on what's hot in the clubs. We back the DJs up with instincts on where the music fits or should start on our platform. We back up instincts with research which confirms everything to ensure audience satisfaction.
3. How do you envision the future for SiriusXM, Hip Hop, and Terrestrial Urban Radio?
Hip-Hop was built for a service like SiriusXM where the music can be heard in its organic form. Take a song like YG's "My Hitta;" the story begins on SiriusXM as we were able to play the song as the artist gave it to the DJs, which we put in rotation. As terrestrial radio looks to the record labels for a suitable clean version, we've begun building familiarity. As long as we build on our strengths and stay on top of technological changes, the service will be around for a very long time.
4. Who are some of the people that have influenced your career?
Tracy Cloherty (former PD of WQHT), Sean Taylor (former MD of WQHT), Steve Blatter (SVP SiriusXM) and Doc Wynter (SVP Clear Channel).
5. What advice do you have for programmers in putting together a music playlist and sound for their station or stations? And does the approach vary depending on the format?
Know your audience. In knowing what your audience wants you are able to super serve them.
6. If a genie in a bottle gave you three wishes, what would they be and why?
- Find a cure for diseases like AIDS and cancer.
- Stop the senseless violence in cities like Chicago.
- End hunger and the homeless problem around the world.
The reasons are obvious!
7. What are your views on music research and how it can or should be used?
Research is a tool which too many use as a crutch. How many stories have been missed or had to be amended on the basis of early or immediate research? Some stories have to be built.
8. What is your opinion on the future of the Urban format?
The term Urban format limits so many talented people in radio. If Chris Brown, Rihanna, Jay Z, Beyonce, Kanye West, Drake and others are pop superstars and their stories started on Urban radio, is Urban the new Pop?
If so, why aren't more Urban and Rhythmic Programmers graduating to Top 40 radio?
The future of the Urban Format lies in the future of African-Americans in general, which is knowing and understanding our power and using it effectively. No we're not JUST a stop on the road to mainstream success, we are the story.
9. You told us how you started, what's your advice for air personalities just starting out who have dreams of programming?
Immerse yourself in the area of interest. Learn the business. Speak the language.
10. Looking back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
It's easy to give the cliché "I have no regrets," but I do. Yet regrets and missed opportunities are like taking the game winning shot over and over again. The ones you missed you can't take back. People only care about the shots you hit.
1) What would people who think they know you, be surprised to learn about you?
I love to clean my musical palate with Smooth Jazz, News, Sports and Talk Radio.
2) What frustrates you the most about radio and the music industry?
Traditionalism. Yeah, we know you've been doing things a certain way for a hundred years, but maybe its time to change.
3) How do you feel about Edison Audios PPM and existing diary method of measurement?
Crutch. Additionally, if the dispersion of the meters or diaries are not equal is it reflective of listening habits of your audience?
4) What are some of your favorite stations other than yours, you like listening to?
SiriusXM channels Backspin, The Groove and FLY.
5) How did your parents feel about your going into the radio profession?
The Lil boy from Montz, LA is doing something with his life.