Cougar radio station gets a reboot

By Kyle Lawrence

In the corner of the fourth floor of the CAS building, next to the Communication Office, there is the Kean Radio station, 90.3 WKNJ. Until recently, the station wasn’t used for much. It lacked equipment, staff and overall activity. However, that all changed when junior Phil Giannino stepped in.

“When I first became program director it was kind of dead. It was like a ghost town,” said Giannino. “So I said, ‘hey, let me take it over.’ I was president of the television and radio program at Piscataway High School. I applied the skills I knew from there to reboot the station to what it is today. I revamped it to be the New WKNJ. It’s new because there are fresh people here. And we just recently changed it to Cougar Radio, because we’re the Kean Cougars.”

The newly dubbed Cougar Radio has seen an increase in activity since Giannino took over with a new staff running things in a way that he describes is “like it is in the real world.”

“I created a promotions position to get the station out there. I also created a news director and a music director, which was here, but the previous programs director did everything, and it shouldn’t be like that,” said Giannino. “One person shouldn’t be doing everything.”

One of the students recently brought on by Giannino is sophomore Antonio Amorim. Amorim serves as the station’s pop culture director and describes himself as “a Perez Hilton, but funnier.”

“I also train a lot of the new DJs that come on with the equipment, as well as help out with classes whenever the equipment goes awry,” said Amorim, who also hosts a pop culture program on Cougar Radio.

“Wednesdays [3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.], it’s called Pop Talk with Antonio. We talk about an assortment of things, basically the top pop culture stories of the week,” said Amorim. “Who’s breaking up with who, who’s getting a divorce, and we do a segment about reality shows that are on right now. Back when ‘Big Brother’ was on we did a segment on that, since I’m a huge ‘Big Brother’ junkie. And I also play top hits like Miley, Katy Perry, Gaga.”

The station is also branching out to more niche groups. Brian Konchalski, former Editor in Chief for The Tower and current news director for Cougar Radio hosts a punk and ska block.

“From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. I play the best Punk and Ska I can find,” said Konchalski, but he balances his work as the news director too. “I have to find news stories, usually from The Tower, and reporting on local happenings in the area.”

With all these changes being made, I had to ask Giannino what his overall goal for the station is.

“I hope to get a bigger audience than what it is,” said Giannino. “We serve lots of areas in Elizabeth, Union, and Hillside, but we want to do more online than anything. And we’re pushing to start streaming by next semester on Android phones, and iTunes Radio perhaps is in the future. We have talks with Tunein Radio.”

“When I first came in here, it was my freshman year, spring semester, it was a chaotic mess,” said Amorim. “It was like a third-world country. And now it’s like a developmental country. It’s fun to see from then to now, to what it will become as the years go on, especially with the new school of communication starting. So hopefully that will bring WKNJ to new highlights.”

Undertaking such a project has been a struggle for Giannino. It’s clear that Kean’s radio station is changing and evolving into something much more than it once was. Giannino’s leadership has done a lot, and he is optimistic to the students taking notice.

“It’s just the process of doing it takes time. I hope to be bigger than what we are now,” Giannino said. “I hope to reach a lot of the campus, I want us to be known.”

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