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Interview - FM802's Kamasami Kong

KansaiNow.com: I speak English really well. How hard would it be for me to get a job as a DJ in Kansai somewhere?

Kong: Well, speaking English isn't the only thing you need to be able to do. You need to be able to entertain. I have a friend who was a top rated DJ in Hawaii who came from Japan. She couldn't speak English very well. But she knew how to prepare, she knew how to entertain, she knew her facts, she knew music. And she was enthusiastic about the way she presented herself.

KansaiNow.com : Is there like a gradual step by step process? You start at a smaller station, you work yourself up to a larger station?

Kong: In most places you have to start somewhere in order to get your feet wet. If you start at a big station, they'll probably start you at a time when no one else wants to work, like after midnight on a weekend.

KansaiNow.com : So does FM802 have auditions for people just off the street?

Kong: There is a chance that you might be auditioning sometime when you don't even expect it. I found a guy one time named 'Marco', who is now the afternoon DJ at ZIP-FM in Nagoya. I discovered him working at the Hard Rock Cafe as one of the announcers there. You know the guys who say 'happy birthday'..

KansaiNow.com : I hate that.

Kong: Cause they're so loud an obnoxious. But Marco had a flair for..

(At this point one of the bartenders came over and asked Kong what group's music Canopy was playing over the speakers.)

Kong: Rage Against the Machine. (back to the interview). That's the other thing, you've got to know your music. I mean even if it sounds like this. And it's something that you think no one would understand or know.

KansaiNow.com : You don't like Rage Against the Machine?

Kong: Actually this was my shower song this morning. I was singing this one while I was in the shower. I like to do these heavy metal songs when I shampoo. So anyway, you don't have to start at a radio station.

KansaiNow.com : Did you ever try to get on Japanese television?

Kong: I have been. Quite a few times without even trying. I've been involved on TV dramas, I've been on several different skits.

KansaiNow.com : But like being a talent?

Kong: Have I tried that? No.

KansaiNow.com : Where does this Kamasami Kong thing come from? Your name is really...

Kong: Bob Zix. And I used the name Bob Zix for most of my career. Till I got to Hawaii. The program director said you can't use that name on the radio. He said 'when you start here, you're going to be Jack Stone'.

KansaiNow.com : This guy just made this up?

Kong: Well, he just took a name. But you're not going to get ahead with a name like Jack Stone. I always thought to have the name of a sound, like Dan Ding, Nick Knock, Bill Bell, might be cool. So I came across the sound of a gong and I said 'yeah, Hawaii, multi-cultural, lots of people of Asian decent'. So I went on the radio one night and this girl called in and said 'what's your name?' and I said quickly ' I call myself Gong.' And she said 'Kamasami Kong?'

KansaiNow.com : What is that? Is that Hawaiian?

Kong: It doesn't mean anything. Kamasami sounds like Kamisama in Japanese. So I thought here is the name 'Kamisama Kong'.

KansaiNow.com : Did anybody ever call you Kongmeister?

Kong: Yeah, it was like, when you get around the water cooler...

KansaiNow.com : The Kong-a-ramma. Remember that guy from Saturday Night Live. Where do you hang out in Kansai?

Kong: I guess I go to Sam and Dave's from time to time. Canopy.

KansaiNow.com : Those are all close to your hotel. You're over in the Hyatt?

Kong: No, in the Ritz-Carlton.

KansaiNow.com : Nice place?

Kong: Ohhh. Well. To say the least. There is a reason why the Ritz is called the Ritz. I mean it's a fabulous room on the 31st floor, corner, overseeing all of Osaka.

KansaiNow.com : Now do girls recognize you in bars and come up and ask you for your sign.

Kong: Sometimes. I mean as a radio personality, it doesn't happen very much. I used to do television and it would happen once in a while. People expect that you look much different.

KansaiNow.com : See cause I was listening to you 7 years ago and I thought you had dark hair.

Kong: Yeah. A big guy dark hair.

KansaiNow.com : Does FM802 have like a big bonenkai at the end of the year and all the DJs get together?

Kong: Yeah. I have a good time.

KansaiNow.com : Now is it me, or does most Japanese music just basically suck.

Kong: It depends on what music your listening to. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. I mean a person who likes the Carpenters is going to have a hard time listening to Metalica.

KansaiNow.com : You have radio shows in Osaka, Taiwan and Hawaii. Now do you just have a ton of frequent flyer miles.

Kong: I just called to Japan Airlines the other day. I get the statements, but I don't pay attention to them. I had like 450,000 miles.

KansaiNow.com: So how did you get started in all this?

Kong: I started out in ham-radio when I was a kid. I had a antenna strung from the tree in the front yard to the tree in the back yard, and another one up the chimney. I realized that if you pulled out the resisters, you could juice the power up real quick. Then I learned about induction, and I realized that I could use the telephone system as an antenna. Back then the telephones, you could unscrew the transmitter, and there were two little metal prongs. You hook up to those and you use the telephone company's phone lines as an antenna. Problem was when people picked up the telephone, they heard a dial tone, but they also heard my broadcast. One day some people from the telephone company came around about 7 o'clock. They said "You know, as a ham operator, you should know that you can't do that." I said, "But my antenna's the right size."

KansaiNow.com: What about high school?

Kong: Then for a while I got real anti-social. All the other guys were talking about girls with big boobs, and this girl would do it, and that girl would do it. And I was just spending all my time in the radio station. One station in town needed a high school reporter, and I got that job.

KansaiNow.com: And college too?

Kong: I was doing color commentary at University of Miami Ohio basketball game. The cut away from the game to announce the draft lottery. And you know, if your number gets picked, it doesn't matter if you have kids or if your in college, you were going to Vietnam. My birthday was the forth number picked. A couple of weeks later, I was raising my right arm swearing allegiance to the US Army. Then, basic training. Learning how to kill, learning how to fire a weapon. Not how to shoot a gun. Fire a weapon. You know in the military, you have to get these things straight, because what they are doing is they are training you to be a killer. So at the end of basic training everyone gets their orders. 400 people are standing there, and basically, we all know, you know, this is it, we're going to Vietnam. The guy in charge says "Parker, your going to Korea to be a photographer. Zix, you're going to Korea to be a radio broadcaster." It was the choice assignment. I worked in Korea for several years.

KansaiNow.com : You want to say something about the radio show?

Kong: At FM802 we are attempting to try something new. On NightScape 802, we play Japanese songs with an English announcer. Completely different concept. Every night from 7pm till about 7.30 we play the top 7 at 7.
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