Huell Howser Guest DJs on KCRW Today: The Losanjealous Interview with the Person Responsible

Could this day get any better? Huell Howser is DJing on KCRW. How did this happen!? We speak now with KCRW Music Publicity Director and Guest DJ Producer/Booker Rachel Reynolds, the person responsible for this occurrence and an industry publicity personal favorite of the Losanjealous editorial staff. Indeed; not only is it Huell Howser Guest DJ Day today, it is also Rachel Reynolds Appreciation Day as decreed by Losanjealous, 22 June 2011 Anno Domini. Like most all things KCRW, Rachel brings quality to the equation (whatever the equation). Read on…

Greets, Rachel! How did you originally become involved with KCRW? How long have you worked for the station, and what do you do?

I feel like I’ve been involved with KCRW since I first started listening. I heard it in a friend’s car about 10 years ago (within a year of moving to LA) and I was totally hooked. KCRW and its DJs were what made me feel OK about the move to LA, it was like a friend I could always turn to. And I’m not saying this just because I’m the Music Publicity Director (a job I’ve held since 2007). It’s 100% true.

I was hired in late 2006 to work in the pledge drive department. I BEGGED them to give me the job. Then, the publicity position became open and since my background was doing PR for indie bands, I jumped on it!

My job is to make sure people know about all the incredible things we’re doing, both programming-wise and out in the community with events. My goal is to spread the word far and wide in hopes of growing our listening audience and our membership base. There are still far too many people out there who don’t know about the station, but would love it if they did. I also edit KCRW’s Music Blog, which is a great way for us to promote bands we’re digging, as well as the Guest DJ Project, which taps into the musical passions of creative folks outside the music business.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

That there are only 24 hours in a day! There are so many things I want to do but I have to balance my ideas with the reality that I can only do so much.

Safe answer but a good one. And what is the best part about your job?

There are two best parts to my job – being able to walk down the hall and see one of my favorites new bands (Anna Calvi) or a music legend (like Booker T Jones) playing in the studio. It sounds amazing and I have a front row seat. Also, I’ve been known to send an mp3 or two around the station from a band I love and sometimes it’s really taken off. It’s a great feeling to give a deserving band a boost.

How did you originally become involved with the Guest DJ project?

It was my idea actually, and I book and produce it (with the help of 3 incredible engineers). I was talking to Music Librarian and DJ Eric J Lawrence about taking advantage of the fact that we are living in this amazing cultural community in LA and that you can really get to know someone by hearing them talk about music without having to ask any personal questions. We feature a wide variety of people – painters, athletes, photographers, fashion designers, authors, actors, comic book writers – and across the board their love for music is so inspiring. They each have to choose 5 songs to talk about and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been yelled at because it’s such a torturous task. (jokingly, of course)

We are all crazy about Huell over here. When did you first begin watching Huell Howser? What were your thoughts the first time you saw Huell on television? And how was he chosen to be a guest DJ?

Huell was actually a suggestion from two people I trust – Eric and Shawniece Swain, who works in our membership department. It took me months and months to get him and it was totally worth it. I’ve been watching for many years and he is just the best. His genuine enthusiasm makes anything and everything interesting. I think every single KCRW employee had their photo taken with him when he came to the station! We’re fans.

Two words, one initial: Eric J Lawrence. Go.

Where do I start? He’s a true music geek in the best sense of the word and a walking encyclopedia about not only music, but books, films and comics as well. He has golden ears and can really spot a song that is going to resonate with our audience. He is charged with listening to “music submissions” which means he has the opportunity to pick up on previously undiscovered gems but has to listen to LOTS of not-so-good music to find them

Talking music to EJL in the music library amongst the stacks is one of my favorite KCRW pastimes. Our tastes our actually pretty similar. He rocks.

Best lunch spots near Santa Monica College? (We’re cheapskates. We prefer sub-$10, but don’t limit yourself. $10.25 is also fine.)

Not many, sadly! There’s Abbot’s Pizza Company and Hungry Pocket for some falafel.

What are some of your favorite venues in and around Los Angeles? What are some of your favorite concerts over the past year?

I love the Troubadour because I live on the Westside. I saw Anna Calvi there, as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. Love them. (DEJJ Losanjealous Q&A here – ed.) I also really enjoyed Fleet Foxes and the Cave Singers at the Palladium. A few of my favorite live sets were actually in Austin during SXSW – Wolf Gang, Charles Bradley and The Kills. (Photos: Kills @ Stubbs, SXSW 2011 – ed)

Who might we expect to hear guest DJing in the months to come?

I’m going to have my first Laker! Ron Artest will be on.

Also, video game designer Will Wright, photographer/director Cheryl Dunn, and comedian Chris Hardwicke.

Anything else you’d like to tell the readers of Losanjealous?

Thanks for reading this far!

Oh, and we have a pledge drive coming up in August, so look out for that. :)

» Guest DJ Project: Huell Howser

Photos by Gregg Lewis.