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Why WBLI's Astra loves her job

Kidsday reporters Ashley Fuchs, Noor Kamal, Marissa Diel

Kidsday reporters Ashley Fuchs, Noor Kamal, Marissa Diel and Patrick McKenna, all from RC Murphy School in Stony Brook with WBLI on air personality Astra at the WBLI offices in West Babylon. (April 1, 2012) Credit: Newsday Pat Mullooly

We sat in with WBLI morning radio host Astra in her studio in West Babylon recently. We had so much fun talking to her and watching her work. She is so full of fun and energy, we don't know how she does it! We asked her a few questions about her job:

How do you make your show fun and interactive for the audience so it makes them want to listen a lot?

It's all about keeping people pretty much entertained and giving them what they want to hear. But it's also about teasing people. Like when you give somebody a tease it makes them want to hear more. So if you say something like, "OMG, you'll never guess who just broke up with who. I'll tell you about it in five minutes." Then you're going to be, "OMG, who just broke up and with who?" It's called a tease. That's what we have to do. We have to tease you because you'll stay listening. You'll keep listening. You want to have an answer. You'll never guess who's dating Justin Bieber now.

What's the best part of working at WBLI?

Everything. There's nothing bad about it. Who doesn't want to listen to music all day and who doesn't want to give away free stuff to people all day? Who doesn't want to talk about celebrity gossip. I love celebrity gossip. I watch "TMZ," "Access Hollywood," "E! News," "Extra." The thing I've always been told that you never work a day in your life if you love what you do. So I love what I do, so to me it's not work. But it's good that I get paid for it.

Do you ever get tired hearing the same song multiple times?

Well, the right answer would be no, but that's the wrong answer. Of course, it's like you keep hearing something over and over again you start getting tired of it. But I'm not going to lie, there are songs that I could listen to and repeat all the time and like never get tired of. We're all human, we get bored easily sometimes. But somebody wants to hear it out there. Got to make everybody happy.

Do you like working solo or would you rather like working with a partner?

Depends on the day. When you work solo you run your ship. Like this is mine. I control what I want to talk about and what I want to do. When you have somebody with you . . . you have two people that are going to be in the pilot seat, but the good thing about having two people is as least you have somebody you can bounce off of. All I have to bounce off of are phone calls. And if the phone calls go horrible then I have nobody but myself to talk to. I feel like I'm talking to myself.

What celebrity would you want to meet in the future and which celebrity was your favorite that you interviewed?

That's hard to answer because I've interviewed a lot of people and I have a lot of favorites. It's hard for me to pick just one. Some people are actually fun interviews and some people not so much. You have to realize just because they're famous, they're still just like us. They're still normal. They might be having a bad day, they might not want to talk to you, they might want to give you an attitude and be mean or they might be the sweetest thing in the world. You might have thought they were mean people and you actually walk out of the interview knowing like, 'Oh my goodness, they're actually very cool.'

Somebody I would want to interview? It's going to sound crazy, but Kim Kardashian. Because I love her so much and I tell everybody that she's my BFF but she just doesn't know it, and I'm hers and she doesn't know it either. I definitely want to interview her. She's just so cool. Although some people don't like her, I like her. I think she's awesome.

As for interviews that I liked, I like anybody that likes to have fun with me. Bruno Mars is one of my favorites. I like him, but for a separate reason because I knew him before he was Bruno Mars. . . .

Jesse McCartney was really really fun to interview. He's definitely fun. Surprisingly, the Fray, I really like them and I actually went into the interview not thinking I was not going to like them because they're kind of like not the type of music I would normally listen to. "How to Save a Life" -- remember that song? I actually went into the interview thinking to myself this is going to probably be the worst interview ever and it actually turned out to be one of the best. They were so nice and we were talking about them going on tour and I told them I collect shot glasses. So they actually mailed me one, which was really cool.

Shawn Kingston was fun. I actually interviewed Justin Bieber over the phone and then I did a meet and greet with him. He's a kid. I also interviewed One Direction. It was actually when they first started, they were also very novice into the whole thing. I love to have fun interviews.

How exactly are your songs chosen? How do you choose what songs you play?

Funny you should ask -- we don't choose what we play. You would think that we do, but we don't. What we do is we have a program director, he's actually in charge of all the music. He picks the music that we play on the radio, he schedules it and puts it in order. So that everything you hear is playing in a specific order. Sometimes we get requests. If somebody calls in and requests a song, think how does that work? Well, we use this machine over here to record it. We record whatever they say and usually whatever they're requesting is something that's probably coming up that hour and that's when we play their phone call. So it looks like they got their request, but in reality it's not like we could put it on next.

Who inspired you to be a radio host, if not, then how did you chose this career?

Actually I went to school for television. I started in the entertainment industry at about 2. I use to model growing up. So it's been like in print work, magazines and stuff. I've always been very shy. I'm a really shy person. I'm still shy. Sometimes I go out to events, I won't talk to someone until they talk to me first. Here nobody sees me, I feel comfortable being by myself. I went to school for television, I wanted to be a television news reporter at first. I ended up getting an internship at MTV. I thought that was pretty cool but then I started thinking, 'Oh my gosh, if I work at MTV I'll only be able to work here until I'm 40 and then I'm going to look old and then I'll not be able to work until I'm 80 so I can't work at MTV. So I got to do hard news, so I started an internship at News12 and I worked there and I ended up getting hired. So I said, 'OK, I'll be a regular reporter, a television reporter' -- and it just never happened. I looked too young. They always told me I look too young. Nobody's going to take news seriously from you. It's not my fault, I can't help it. So then I was writing everything that the anchors were reading on TV. I was writing all their news stories and I'm like why am I not good enough to be in front of the camera, but I good enough to write everything. I ended up finding out about something in radio. Let me just try radio. It's just like TV, you're just not seen you're heard. So I'll just try it. Did the whole radio thing. You know what? This isn't that bad. It's pretty cool. So I ended up landing a gig in radio and I guess it was what my fate was. So I've been doing radio for a really long time. That's how it happened. I didn't go to school with the intentions of being in radio I wanted to do TV. And I still do. Maybe one day I'll get that chance. Be like Ryan Seacrest, radio and TV.

Do you have any other job outside of WBLI and if so, what?

No, I don't. This entails a lot. It may not look it, but we do. We do a lot of events. We do remotes, we do live broadcasts. Different places, we host different events. I'll host maybe red carpet runway things or car dealerships or supermarkets. Whoever wants to hire us we'll be there doing promotions. So outside of here I'm always at like Adventureland, things like that. So we're always working.

Do you do any exercises to settle your nerves prior to the show?

My exercise is a nice cup of coffee. That calms me. If I don't have my coffee I'm just like dragging. And I didn't have coffee today.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to sleep. I go out with my friends. I've been going to the city. I hang out in the city a lot. Go shopping. Catch up on my reality TV shows. Like MTV, Bravo.

What is the coolest place you ever visited?

I've been to Hawaii, Aruba, Caribbean. I'm dying to go on a European trip this summer. I want to do a European cruise. I want to go to Greece Italy, Paris. I just want to go there. I love LA, huge fan of Miami.

Do you have a favorite book?

I actually read a lot of celebrity gossip magazines. I'm not really a book person.

What is your favorite music genre?

I actually like a whole bunch of different things. I love the music we play here obviously, not because I work here, but there are a lot of people who work in radio who don't like the music that they play. But I love the music I play, I love top 40, I also love dance music, I love free style, I love '80s music, '90s music. All that type of stuff. I like to mix it up. I'm not really into rock, not really into country, but anything else goes.

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