As I get off the bus into the Port Authority, I make my way out onto 42nd street and 8th Avenue. I then cross two avenues passing by all the TV Ads, the large screens, the Broadway shows, McDonalds, museums, stores and make my way to 6th Avenue. When I walk uptown to 48th street I begin to see men in suits and ties holding suitcases, something you’d see in a movie. I then cross 48th street, walk into the rotating doors of the building, ride the elevator to the 36th floor and notice the colorful Sirius XM Satellite Radio sign as well as walls covered in signatures either from celebrities, almost celebrities and others who’ve worked in the past. I then enter the main floor where all the magic happens. The majority of interns including myself work on this floor helping out mentors and coordinators to set up and program shows on the satellite radio stations. The floor is a long hallway with offices on one side and desks with computers and computer programming gear on the other. All of the studios are in the next hallway over. Along the main floor are many workers including three specific men that I have interviewed. One sits close to the small studio rooms slouched while clicking away at his mouse who goes by the name, Brian DeNicola. Another employee who has the wackiest most appealing office cubicle in Sirius XM is Jose Mangin, while a third employee who has just left for Seattle was Tom Wilkinson; he worked on a desk across from Jose’s office.
DeNicola a 26-year-old has been working at Sirius for five years. He currently coordinates the radio shows of the Frank Sinatra Channel, the Elvis Presley Channel, 70s on 7, and Cousin Brucie’s 60s on 6. When it comes to those shows anything goes through him, “I’m the connection,” as he said.
Originally from Edison NJ, DeNicola started working for his father in radio when he was 12 and 13 years old. He ran the board at the radio station and continued that task when his dad got him a job at WNCA around the time he was in college. He interned at the MTV radio station called WNPC. After he graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism and Communication he worked at the Empire State Building for a year and a half and then at Total Request Live (TRL); once again running the board. DeNicola got a temporary job with WABC, ABC’s Radio Station before meeting Richard Davis’ brother who was interning at Sirius Satellite and doing Hits 1 Mashup. Richard Davis currently works as an air talent for Sirius XM Hits 1 Morning Mashup and Covino and Rich talk show. During that time, Davis’ brother was promoting for an Eminem concert. Davis’ brother chatted with DeNicola about Sirius and gave him a tour. Not too long after that, DeNicola with a strong resume’ got hired to work for Sirius under Bruce Morrow aka Cousin Brucie. DeNicola always wanted to work in the media industry and has been enjoying it ever since.
DeNicola works with such programs such as: Prophet, Adobe Addition, Dalet, and MusicMaster. Sometimes Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s daughter comes into studio for the Sinatra Channel in which he needs to record her voice tracks for the 2 hour show. The roughest part of his Sirius career was during the merger with XM Satellite Radio. There was an uncertainty of who was going to keep their jobs and according to DeNicola, the company cut 22% of the staff. DeNicola does have an intern and sometimes gets to work with me. DeNicola said the best interns who eventually turn into employees always ask questions. About half the interns have asked for a job after an internship, he said. He also suggested that interns should be aggressive, always being after people to network, and checking up on emails. DeNicola continues to ride out his career because as of right now it is a fun experience, and totally worth it.
To learn more about DeNicola, watch this video below.
Another employee, who recently left Sirius XM for a gig in Seattle, is 31-year-old Tom Wilkinson. Wilkinson who worked at Sirius for seven years was a manager of music operations and had a few interns. Growing up in Greenwich, CT, Wilkinson was once a Sirius intern in his last semester of college in 2002. Wilkinson did some radio in college, but his main calling was with Sirius. He eventually graduated from Pace University with a degree in English and Communication. After, he traveled to Australia and would consistently email Sirius because of his great experience as an intern. When he came back to New York for a visit to Sirius, one of the ladies offered him a job. After one phone call, Wilkinson got the job. During his time at Sirius, Wilkinson worked on radio schedules, payroll reporting, trouble shooting tasks, managing interns, and assisting the Vice President of Operations, Cheryl Mazlen.
During the merger, Wilkinson like everyone else was nervous. “Noses clean and ears to the ground,” he said.
After nine years of living in New York City, Wilkinson wanted a geographical change such as Seattle. He will be working for a delivery spot company called Extreme Reach, which downloads files to get TV ads and commercials up onto the TV networks and radio stations like Sirius XM to be broadcasted across the globe. Wilkinson was offered the job from a friend working there. He also suggested to interns that they be visibly enthusiastic, upbeat and would not be afraid to make decisions to move up in the business. Then as an employee, he said you need to be a “yes” person, someone who is creative and can be a risk taker. Then Wilkinson mentioned that the best employees are those who can break the rules, and loosen the chains. When he said this he pointed to Jose’s office across from him.
Jose Mangin who possibly has the most exciting office in the company is also a true Metal rocker. His office as he said reflects his personality and life since his career is his life. His desk is filled with pictures of metal bands, energy drinks, and hot girls. He has a Playboy Lamp at the top, and a number of Platinum Albums from known Metal Bands. He wears cut up jeans, has a Mohawk, wears multiple spike bracelets, has a few facial rings and is covered in tattoos. He could be described as your stereotypical metal head from the store Hot Topic. Unlikely, he has a wife and kids.
Mangin a Latino from Douglas, AZ, is now a Program Director and an On-Air Talent Host for two metal stations, Octane and Liquid Metal from 4 to 9 pm on Mondays through Fridays. “I grew up nine blocks from the fence,” he said.
He has been working for Sirius XM for 11 years bringing in as much hard rock and metal listeners as possible. Ever since Kindergarten, Mangin was into Heavy Metal. However, Mangin was not always a radio DJ. He once graduated at the University of Arizona for Chemistry. He then went to graduate school in Memphis, TN to be a Pharmacist. Mangin’s future was not supposed to be behind a counter selling prescriptions, but to be a talented voice, delivering rock and metal music across the airwaves. During his time at the University of Arizona in Tucson, he was a Metal Director for the radio station. He then worked at the FM Radio Station in Memphis. Around the year 2000, he worked at a record label called TBT until a former Alternative Music Director from Sirius Radio handed him a brochure for a 24/7 Metal channel. Sirius wanted copies of his work at TBT and he eventually met with Sirius executives to start building the rock department. Mangin got the job with Sirius and started doing a Latino rock channel. Sirius XM was the dream job he always wanted.
Mangin currently Co-Produces and Hosts the Headbangers Ball on MTV2 and hosts a Latin TV show called LatiNation. At Sirius XM he coaches and hires as a program director, picks out each song on his radio stations, writes copies, sets up and does interviews, creates specials and promotions. Mangin uses his Chemistry education to formulate his radio shows on MusicMaster. He also keeps in touch with his fans via Facebook and Twitter. In his mind, his job never stops whether at home, with his family or on vacation because Metal Radio is his life and he loves it.
One of Mangin’s dreams is being able to call his idols, his friends. He supports such metal artists as Lamb of God, Anthrax, Machine Head, Sepultura, Pantera, Damageplan, Testimont, Slayer, and “Dimebag” Darrell. At one point in his life, he performed live with “Dimebag” Darrell on stage in front of 100,000 people. After Darrell was murdered on stage on December 8, 2004, Mangin helped the spirit of his affiliated bands Pantera and Damageplan.
During the merger between Sirius and XM Radio, Mangin was confident in not losing his job because he had such a huge following and was working at the Sirius all star level. Although some friends of his didn’t make it over the switch, he was in the clear. The only problem at that time was trying to get listeners from XM who seemed to hate his channel until they realized that he was very talented. He received multiple awards for being the, “Most Annoying DJ On or Off the Planet” from Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal listener base.
Mangin plans to stay at Sirius XM as long as there’s Metal around. He continues to be motivated and raises his children by metal, because “once you stop being motivated, you settle,” he said. From a professional stance, Mangin believes that you must be passionate and be willing to explore all avenues of entertainment whether its radio, TV, movies, or anything else before you grow old. Sometimes he suggested, making it in a media business, “you’ll have to move a step backwards to move forwards.”
Since New York is the number one market, it can be a bit hard to start there. Mangin always supports the small guys who try to get an early start on a career. He praises people in their own genres and keeps all his passion at Sirius XM with the music and not with the corporal politics. Mangin dedicates his life-long career for reaching out to fans and for enjoying the music. Later that year during Cinco De Mayo, Jose was crowned the undefeated “Guacamole Champion”.
After leaving Mangin’s metal office, I could finally come back to reality. I learned a lot about how each of these people, Brian, Tom, and Jose got to where they are now. They were motivated and always seemed to have an interest in the radio world. Although, I am still unsure what I want to do I have been enjoying this internship and have been learning a lot in a short time. I am starting to learn about the real world and how it works. Hopefully, I could keep their contacts and add other networking connections so that I could eventually be in a place where I want to start my own career. They’ve all worked hard but did so because it was a path they chose to take. As of right now, I wouldn’t mind exploring other avenues in media to discover who I am and what I really want from life.