What started as hobby on the one’s and two’s has now transcended into being one of the most significant radio influencers in the United States’ second largest market. Simply known as E-Man, Emmanuel Coquia is the Program Director for not one or even two radio platforms, but he is controlling the airwaves of three powerful radio stations in the Los Angeles market.
If you have ever been stuck in traffic on the 405 and tuned into Power 106, 93.5 KDAY, or Cali 93.9! you have heard E-Man’s influence on the culture. PD by day, party rocker by night, and worldwide influencer all the time, the Filipino phenomenon has taken his career to new heights and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. E-Man somehow found some time in his busy schedule to talk to Radio Facts about working Meruelo Media, managing his crazy calendar, and just journey from Disc Jockey to Program Director, and beyond.
RADIO FACTS: How did you get started in the industry?
E-MAN: DJing got me into the radio industry. I tell people DJing was a hobby turned business turned career. Hobby as in just practicing, making mixtapes, etc.; business as in started my own mobile DJ service [and] DJing private events, high school dances, weddings transitioning into doing clubs; career as in mixing on the radio and touring around the world, which led to working behind the scenes in radio: programming coordinator, mixshow coordinator, assistant MD, MD, assistant PD, to now Director of Programming and Music Content for Meruelo Media.
Congrats on your new title as PD of the three stations. Tell us about the stations.
Thank you! It’s been an incredible and fun experience so far! I’m truly blessed to have so many great talented people around me at Power 106, 93.5 KDAY and Cali 93.9! Power 106 is a “monster” of a station, a radio station and massive brand to Los Angeles, the radio industry, and to hip-hop culture! 93.5 KDAY is that legendary station that helped pave the way for hip-hop on the radio. KDAY definitely showcases the history of hip-hop through the music, personalities and content. Cali 93.9 has been a great experience to create and develop.
Meruelo Media wanted to create a station that showcases the red hot reggaeton music genre presented to the Los Angeles audience – hence Cali 93.9, #1 for Reggaeton y Mas, which I came up with the name and slogan for. These three stations have a great synergy about them; they’re hip-hop! Think about it – Power 106 plays the newest and hottest in hip-hop today, 93.5 KDAY plays many of the classic hip-hop songs we’ve all grown up with, and the new Cali 93.9 plays reggaeton, Latin trap and more. [In] a lot of the reggaeton songs, the artists are basically “rapping” to the reggaeton drum sound. That’s the great synergy of the three radio stations!
How did the Price is Right gig come along?
The Price is Right was doing a “Grammys Show” theme the week leading into the Grammys 2019. The Price is Right reached out and asked if I could mix and entertain the audience – of course I had to do it [laughs]. I had a great time! Drew Carey is a very nice guy!
Do you have an agent? Would you suggest DJs have an agent or manager?
I am my own agent and manager. Over the years, I did everything based on relationships and people I know always helped out. I do suggest for DJs to have an agent [or] manager as that can help in many ways.
Your IG page looks like you work on a lot of projects in the industry but that you also keep your personal life in balance. How important do you think it is to make sure you define a work life and a personal life (for the people in the industry that work all the time)?
It’s crazy how my work life and personal life are both 24-7. Time management of both is SO very important. You want to be that manager and supporter to your staff and peers inside and outside of work and at the same time be that husband, father, brother, etc. My wife Joi and my three kids, daughters Maliya and Alana and son Kalani, are very supportive and understanding of my time and new roles. There are times I’m able to do both [at the same time]. Examples of that are our weekly Power 106 charity games where my family will come out, support me, the team and the cause. The car rides, mid-game conversations, and the late dinners after the games give us our family time to hang. Also, going to my oldest daughter Maliya’s hip-hop dance and competition shows are also great ways of watching her and, at the same time, hearing all the various songs these kids are into, dancing to, and reacting to helps me work-wise – research at its finest [laughs].
Not many DJs make it to program radio. Why do you think that is?
That’s a great question…I will tell you that, in the case of Power 106, 93.5 KDAY and Cali 93.9, a lot of DJs/mixers are on-air and behind the scenes. Check this out by station:
[On] Power 106 morning host Nick Cannon also DJs, afternoon jock Felli Fel [is a] DJ, night show hosts JustinCredible and Sourmilk [are] DJs, weekend jock Jonathan “Q” [is a] DJ, our Imaging Director Andrew Berger, Commercial Director Vinny Pagan, Webmaster Cory Copeland, and Promotions Coordinator Robert Brown [are] all DJs!
[On] 93.5 KDAY afternoon jock PJ Butta [is a] DJ, night jock and Imaging Director Noah Ayala [is a] DJ, and Programming and Commercial Coordinator Naythan Rodriguez [is a] DJ.
[On] Cali 93.9 morning show jock Mando Fresko DJs events, afternoon jock and APD Eddie One [is a] DJ, Music Director Disko Drew [is a] DJ, Assistant Music Director Santarosa [is a] DJ, and of course, myself – [I’m a] DJ!
There’s all of us along with the other DJs/mixers who mix on their mixshows. Now to answer your question, though a PD ultimately programs the station, it’s the people on your teams that program alongside you. So regardless of title and position, DJs are definitely programming radio in some capacity.
Power 106 has always been one of the best sounding stations in the market; there is a great flow to the format and all the jocks sound great. Are you finding that it’s getting more challenging finding jocks today or easier?
Thank you! I owe that all to the great music scheduling by Rebecca Lopez who also leads our music team and the dope “fire” imaging by Andrew Berger. We have incredibly talented “stars” on Power – radio legend Felli Fel, the cutting edge LA Leakers’ JustinCredible and DJ Sourmilk, and award winning DJ Carisma. Our mid-day host, Bryhana, who was put on by Jimmy Steal, is a star and as I always tell her, will be massive when she gets on TV. Plus, our weekend talent Jonathan “Q” and Kalisha are developing to be the next stars! Our morning show co-hosts Teddy Mora and Melissa Rios are becoming “stars” courtesy of the direction and mentoring by morning show host Nick Cannon. What makes them “stars” is that you get the true talent of who they are by being just them, letting their personalities shine! It hasn’t been the easiest to find jocks…just find the ones whose personality shines!
You’ve had a lot of changes at the station over the last couple of years with your morning show. What made you chose Nick Cannon as the new morning host?
The former morning show decided to part ways during the time I was transitioning [in] and it put me in a very tough situation to find the next morning show. Nick Cannon and I have a great relationship; we’ve been great friends since he started his first TV hosting gig years ago. When he heard about the morning show leaving, he reached out to check on me. We hung out later that day and I was telling Nick about now having the great challenge to build and find a morning host and show. He said, “he want[ed] to be that next one.” I didn’t believe him as I knew how busy he was with filming, recording and school.
What I tell people is that Nick doing mornings started as a “conversation, then a negotiation, becoming a confirmation.” The decision to put Nick on made the most sense and was the best timing for all. Nick is LOCAL, from southern California, [has] credibility with hip-hop, [is] comedic and funny – which is evident with his Wild’n Out show – [has] mass appeal with his Masked Singer show, [is involved in] pop culture, and [is] an incredible community activist who gives his time [by] coming out to the high schools charity basketball games and feeding the needy and homeless at the LA Mission, and overall doing his show LIVE around his crazy schedule. Nick Cannon on Power 106 “RADIO” rounds him out overall; he is very focused!
Tell us about the most recent owners of Power Meruelo Media and what it’s like to work for them?
The Meruelo Media family is like what I just said – “family!” They’ve been great. Our owner, Alex Meruelo, is great at keeping in touch with me directly and loves being involved, which I think is dope! He makes things happen. Since taking over Power 106, he’s acquired two additional LA radio stations in classic rock station KLOS and now Spanish CHR KLLI aka Cali 93.9, the SLS hotel and casino resort now renamed the Sahara in Las Vegas, and NHL hockey team [the] Arizona Coyotes…and I know he’s not done [laughs]. Our President and CEO Otto Padron has been great as well. He has trusted me with our great brands and lets me be me with them. I’ve learned a lot from our conversations and working closely together. Shouts to VP Operations Tommy Trujillo, COO Winter Horton and Executive VP Luis Armona – all have been great!
Do you mentor anyone?
Yes! Directly and Indirectly. I’ve challenged many on my teams to “take my job!” That’s my way of developing them and teaching them what it is to not only program, but how to manage the various personalities of individuals and to learn from every decision they make.
Do you feel mentoring is still important since there has been such a shift in the recent generations of industry people and constantly evolving technology? (i.e. could a mentor’s information be dated or quickly irrelevant?)
Mentoring is still very important. When mentoring, you have the understand the changes and shifts of the music, audience, tastes, etc. and adapt and implement them. Strategies and thinking may be the same, but how you apply them is important.
What are some of the other projects that you are working on?
Power 106, 93.5 KDAY, and Cali 93.9 have now been my daily projects! Power 106 is an ongoing project alone. The music and content pour in like crazy. It’s finding ways to create and implement to our audience and fans of the station.
93.5 KDAY as well. I work with our personalities to develop features and content on-air and digitally around the music and artists of that genre [or] era and, at the same time, still incorporate current and topical content for the audience.
As [for] Cali 93.9, that’s a whole other project as well. We continue to develop and create the awareness of that new station; it’s only been four months strong so far. With the many “projects” I’m involved with, we brought in veteran Spanish radio programmer Isabel Gonzales to help us with Cali 93.9. I’m definitely still involved overseeing Cali 93.9 with Otto; bringing Isabel on will strengthen our team even more!
Aside from my radio projects, working with my brother, DJ Virman of the Far East Movement, on a project to bridge talent in the Philippines with talent and artists internationally and creating awareness of these emerging and talented artists worldwide, especially in the US. Speaking of Filipinos, just wrapped up another Filipino Heritage Night with the LA Clippers which was great! They allow various Filipino-Americans celebrities, artists, and influencers to be involved throughout the game. It ended with our Fil-Am celeb game which featured my team, “Team E-Man,” versus “Team P-Lo,” a very popular and talented Filipino rap artist and producer from the Bay area.
As a programmer, do you try to stay in the streets and attend industry events or does your schedule not allow it?
Absolutely! Very important to do as many as I can. If it’s at our weekly Power high school games, nightclubs in LA and Vegas, station street events, industry music showcases, listening sessions, I try to attend and be at them. I can’t make [them] all but I when I can’t, I make sure someone from my team is there to represent.
I’ve talked to DJs who tell me they get burned out of working in clubs and doing gigs. Do you ever feel that way?
Yes, but more based on exhaustion physically and mentally, but not because of DJing. I look forward to DJing at the club [or] gigs as I always enjoying entertaining the clubgoers; there’s a great rush when they’re having a great time based on what and how you play songs for them. It’s also great research as well seeing what works and doesn’t work. I do enjoy DJing for artists as well. Taking that stage and performing with them is a dope experience. Shouts to Trey Songz who’s been letting me DJ and perform alongside him in Las Vegas; always great times!
How can DJs make more money? I hear a lot of complaints about the pay in various markets.
Best thing to do is build your brand and build a credibility on how you play for the clubs. It’s a crazy and challenging “grind,” but the more you focus on your craft and develop it, [the more] it will lead to greater opportunities. Also, develop relationships – relationship with the promoters, the club staff, and most importantly, the people who attend the club. Create an experience that will make them want to come back to you!
What would you tell a new radio person to do in order to have longevity in the industry?
Don’t get complacent in this game, treat each day as if it was your first day at the job, and have fun doing it!
What are three of the greatest lessons that you have learned about the industry during your career?
[The] three greatest lessons [have been] 1) know your audience and your market, 2) adapt to change, [and] 3) this music game is like a playing a game of chess; make the right strategic moves to ultimately checkmate your opponents and goals!
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
Continuing to do what I love doing in this music game – radio and taking the people around me to the next level!
Thanks Kevin and the Radio Facts fam for this great opportunity.