Phil Giannino: Signing Off
Phil Giannino working at the Kean Cougar Radio station.
By Kristen DeMatos
Walking the halls on the fourth floor of the CAS building, it’s nearly impossible not to notice the presence of one Kean senior, Phil Giannino. It is not his 6’3 stature that commands your attention, but rather his loud laugh and charismatic disposition.
Giannino works at the University’s radio station, WKNJ 90.3 as the station manager and former program director. WKNJ is Kean’s only radio station and is now Kean’s number one listened to station. Students run the radio station under faculty advisement.
Four years ago, when he walked onto campus as a fresh-faced freshman, Giannino joined the radio station and brought it back to life.
“When I got there it was a ghost town,” Giannino said. “No one really knew about the station.”
Dr. Scott McHugh is the faculty advisor for the radio station.
“Every few years, we have turnover at the station and when Phil came in we were going through turnover,” Dr. McHugh said. “People graduate, and there’s a void. So he stepped right in and decided to change things, in terms of what he wanted to do.”
He didn’t feel the underground rap format the station was using back then was reaching the key demographics of student listeners, so Giannino changed the format to Top 40/College.
“I changed the old image from ‘WKNJ 90.3 The Sound of Kean University’ to WKNJ 90.3 FM Cougar Radio,” Giannino said.
From then on, the radio station had just begun the start of its changes.
“He got really involved, you know, recruited people in his classes, to try and make things better,” McHugh said. “He’s done a lot of good things. He got the current group organized, he tried to manage them appropriately, make sure everybody had a specific job at the station.”
Among these changes included dividing up positions among the radio staff.
“The former program director did everything herself which I didn’t think was fair to everyone else,” Giannino said. “So I placed different positions, like station manager, program director, music director, stuff like that.”
Giannino, who was interning with the radio station Magic 98.3 and 1450 WCTC in New Brunswick, just received a full time job with them as a sales assistant.
“I’ve always wanted to run my own station one day and this is the right track to make that possible,” said Giannino. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. Everyone is amazing and it feels like a family, so I’m very happy with this job.”
Students that work with Giannino feel that he brought the vibe that the radio station has been waiting for.
“Working with Phil is awesome, he’s a good guy,” said WKNJ DJ Wayne Clark. “We always have a lot of fun.”
Giannino’s impact at Kean doesn’t stop at the radio station. Janice O’Halloran, a worker at the faux Starbucks on the third floor of CAS, said she loves having Phil around.
“He brightens up our days here, he’s such a joy,” she said. “He lets me be creative and surprise him with his order. He’s a sweet guy.”
He also provides help for other students and faculty during numerous school events to share his knowledge and express his personality.
“He’s done some things with the television studio, and he’s helped out on some open houses, and tours and he’s always available to talk to students when they come in for visits,” McHugh said. “He’s really become kind of like a spokesman, a face of our program.”
Giannino’s involvement and presence has made an impact on those he meets, including different staff among the fourth floor of CAS.
“He’s always available to help, if need be,” said Margaret Waldron, secretary to the school of Communication, Media and Journalism. “He’s a good boy.”
With Giannino’s impending graduation getting closer and closer everyday, he can’t help but feel grateful for all the experiences WKNJ and Kean University has offered to him.
“I’m gonna miss everyone here, but I know I have an exciting future ahead of me,” said Giannino, with a smile on his face.