Ferrari of KSUA interview
Shaleesha Ferrari is the music director at KSUA in Fairbanks, Alaska. She's one of those rare music directors that is simultaneously personal & professional. According to her constant jokes she's old, but I think that's just means she was able to have a crush on Axl Rose....
QRD – Why did you want the position of music director & why do you think you got it over all the other applicants?
Shaleesha – I have been wondering that myself, but I'm glad I did!
QRD – What do you think the job of a good music director is?
Shaleesha – Making music available to deejays and the community, a wide variety of music that wouldn't be heard otherwise.
QRD – What did you initially think you could accomplish as music director that having obtained the position became obviously impossible?
Shaleesha – I really didn't have any huge vision of turning KSUA into anything, other than getting through the weekly mailings, being able to give every demo a fair listen, return every call, read every email...all impossible. Also, being exclusively "anti-corporate" radio and at the same time free format and open minded about music is not necessarily a possibility either. It's sort of hard when deejays are playing major label records and there are twice as many excellent indie and diy'ers who are hanging out somewhere at the bottom of the top 200, and yet there also has to be integrity in reporting... I know there are md's who won't chart major label artists, but I don't really feel that is the answer either.
QRD – How much do you let your personal taste in music effect your stationís music?
Shaleesha – I'm sure it comes into play, especially when it comes to the indie metal cd's with corpses and skeletons on the cover, if it's something I am not in the mood for, I will wait for someone else to review it. Very rarely do I pan anything, and I feel bad if I do, as if it's personal... but it is, in a way. Probably the most technical reviews given are for cd's that I really don't like but want to describe in case someone else likes 60 minutes of avante gard screaming/broken glass and car horns. Stuff like that.
QRD – How have streaming online radio stations effected the purpose & competition for your station?
Shaleesha – I don't know about competition, but we do occasionally get calls from around the world, people are picking us up, and that is very cool.
QRD – Is there a computer in your DJ booth & if so what is it used for?
Shaleesha – We have a baby robot, we just got it this year. I didn't like it at first, mainly because it meant another 40 hours of work a week that I wouldn't get done, but it's getting loaded and it's actually convenient to program music. Mainly we use it overnight, it's still kind of unreal and does turn some listeners off I think, but we are able to give spins to artists who don't get a lot of exposure and sleep at the same time, which is cool.
QRD – What percentage of the hour does a DJ play music of his/her choice, listenerís choice, & rotation?
Shaleesha – The dj's have to play 5 playlist tracks an hour, requests if they get them, it's generally ends up being about a 50/50 split.
QRD – How often does something in rotation get played?
Shaleesha – We don't really use "rotation" per se, generally "light" means less than 5 a week, and "heavy" over 10. That's not a lot but then again, we have over 200 cd's on our playlist and add an average of 40 a week.
QRD – What are some things bands/labels can do to get on the fast track into rotation & to eliminate themselves from getting into rotation?
Shaleesha – A very aggressive, pushy, or sympathy-playing promoter: it can work either way for them.
QRD – Do you read the charts of other stations & if so how do they effect your charts?
Shaleesha – When I have time I like to look over charts randomly, but I don't think it really effects our charts, unless I see stations charting someone I really dig but everyone around me seems to not dig -~ but if I see they are in high positions at various other stations, it gives me confidence to be able to tell the dj's to spin it, or at the very least I don't feel like a total freak.
QRD – Whatís the longest time you feel comfortable keeping a record in rotation?
Shaleesha – Seven weeks – unless it's gone unnoticed, then I might forget about it and leave it out a little longer, but after about a week of heavy play I'm generally tired of it. That's my short attention span, in general you hear the same stuff over and over and I really hate that about radio.
QRD – Do you solicit labels for servicing or just generally stick with who finds you?
Shaleesha – Sometimes I have to track down an artist, but I get a lot as it is and sometimes it's just easier to buy a cd than get a hold of people, I guess they don't need us.
QRD – Do you listen to & review the majority of records you receive yourself?
Shaleesha – Yep, but this year I've had an excellent deejay reviewing about 10 cd's a week for me, and then there is Spiderbui who handles hip-hop and rpm.
QRD – How do you choose who to let review what discs if not?
Shaleesha – That's tough, if I let some discs go out I will never see them again, or have to listen to the whole thing over for profanity, so I don't let new music go out unless the deejay has been reliable in the past. I have one reliable dj.
QRD – Whatís the importance of specialty shows at your station?
Shaleesha – Evenings & weekends we have specialty shows, & they are very important to our listeners (as we find out on the rare occasion one of the specialty dj's can't make it) & also to me. I love to listen to those shows, mostly because it's older music or folk or jazz, & it's nice to "enjoy" music, reminds me why I wanted this job & why I love it.
QRD – How do you deal with DJís stealing discs from the station library?
Shaleesha – I cry. Especially when it is older music that has been around our library a long time. Newer stuff goes missing all the time, (I don't cry) if/when I notice I sometimes make a note asking whoever took it to bring it back and it's amazing how often it does come back. Maybe it is unintentional at times. It's the older music disappearing that really makes me mad.
QRD – How is your station involved in the local music scene?
Shaleesha – We have shows devoted entirely to local music, and occasionally live music at the station on our jazz program as well as the local show. This is an area where I would like to be more informed, but with all I have to do, I'm thankful we have people who are really dedicated to local talent, because Fairbanks has a lot of it. Last year KSUA had a battle of the bands and hopefully will again, it was a lot of fun.
QRD – With your experience in radio, are you jaded or hopeful for the music industry?
Shaleesha – I go back and forth on that one.
QRD – If your position is temporary, what do you plan to do with your interest in music in the future?
Shaleesha – I don't know, I like to think I will always be involved somehow with music.
QRD – What are the best & worst parts of your job?
Shaleesha – Worst, stolen cd's, and messy libraries, the best: everything else.