Jackie "Kanashimi" Florian explains why 91.8 the Fan got started, while alternatively explaining some of the oddest names conventions have called the 24/7 online anime radio station.
So NYCC happened, hence why you got no Justin Lab Report. For…3 weeks? Yeah, had to prep for that. Expect to see some NYCC thoughts as well in the next few weeks as well.
For tonight however, I’m happy to share my interview with the owner of 91.8 the Fan and Co-Founder Jackie Florian. Known around the internet as “Kana” or “Kanashimi”, she manages the 24/7 anime radio station that’s been in business since 2010. Here, you’ll get to know why it took a year for them to start it up, then understand the process Jackie goes through with her interviews.
2:35: How did she get the name of Kanashimi, and the reaction from Japanese people she’s met.
4:42: Talks about when she co-founded 91.8 the Fan.
6:00: Why they wanted to pay the artists instead of stuff like SoundExchange, which required sending written letters to Japan.
8:25: Where Jackie explains how 91.8 the Fan got the craziest convention names/badges at conventions when it started.
13:15: Jackie explains how she prepares to interview the guests.
18:05: Why THIS particular convention is special to her.
20:40: Jackie explains what’s been her favorite anime series this year.
21:45: How Final Fantasy 14 got her into Yokai Watch.
So honestly the first question I have to ask you is I ended up trying to figure out what Kanashimi meant, and it…means grief? How did that become the name you use on the interwebs?
*laughs* Yeah it’s grief or sorrow or sadness, it’s in a lot of songs. When I was an “edgy 9-year old and I listened to Evanescence and Linkin Pink” *laughs* I used to role play and I had a character that I had made. It was super original, like totally do not steal, called Kanashimi Tenchi, and I thought that’s like sorrow angel or sad angel. It’s like so emo, and you want to be edgy as a kid. I never changed it. And I have people who call me Kana. In fact my roommate who I had known for 14 years — I met him online when I was 11 — he still calls me Kana in real life. We’ve been living together for 2 years, and actually this weekend I’m at an event, I have all these people coming up to me and they’re just referring to me as Kana or Kanashimi.
I have had Japanese colleagues who have been like, “Kana is good, but Kanashimi No!”
I understand that it’s an ill fitting name but it’s kinda stuck with me so I just don’t know what to do anymore. I have people in real life who use that more than my actual name, so…I’m kinda stuck with it! *laughs*
It’s interesting, most people when they grow older they disassociate with their younger username, but you’re embracing it. Have to give you props for that one!
Well thank you! I just — I like how it sounds, I know the meaning is very somber, but it’s in a lot of music! I work with music, so there you go.
So you Co-Founded 91.8 the Fan with Matthew Eis, also known as Sandgolem — what’s with all these names back then right?
You started this were in college correct?
I actually never went to college. I graduated high school 2 years early, so when I was 17 is when I Co-Founded the business. And it was Sandgolem, and Kibs, or Zachary McDonald, so it was the 3 of us together. As of about 2 years ago, Sandgolem moved on, and about 4 years in, Kibs moved on as well, and now I’m the sole proprietor of 91.8 the Fan.
What was the jumpstart that led to the idea of creating a 24/7 online radio station?
Well it’s really funny, it was just a what if idea — wouldn’t it be cool if there was this? Wouldn’t it be cool if it was that? You know those ideas you get when on a road trip and in a car, and we all started talking about it and we thought, “Ok this will be fine, this will be something that’ll be entertaining. We didn’t think about as seriously as we do now, as a business. We thought, “Ok, let’s see, let’s look into this, let’s see the issues with royalties, and like, how much is it gonna cost,” and things like that.
So we actually spent an entire year getting together all of the royalty issues because initially at the time, Japanese music companies and the Japanese royalty companies wouldn’t actually get back to us through email. Their emails were in English but they’d only respond via written letter. So it was a very long, tedious process to get that to work. We could’ve just simply aligned ourselves with SoundExchange or BMI or ASCAP, or any of those in the US. But we decided we really wanted to pay it forward and pay the artists to support the industry. That was something we wanted from the get go.
So yeah we launched in January 3 of 2010, and then people just really enjoyed it, and suddenly, something that was going to be fun became a really big part of our lives.
As you mentioned, it didn’t start immediately, it took a while and you started in 2010. I guess you mentioned one challenge, trying to get the royalties, I didn’t realize you had to send letters to them. Can you name some other challenges you had to deal with before actually starting the site?
One of the big challenges was we had to deal with was actually organizing everything in a way that made sense. *laughs* I know this isn’t very exciting, but for example, we wanted to make sure people were ready to go on air. A lot of these people didn’t have any training. It was just something they wanted to do and it was all something we could all have fun with. We needed people to understand, like how to go On Air, how to talk about something and how to make it interesting, and how to make it sound natural…which is very in vogue. “People aren’t super announcery anymore!” *laughs* But they’re more like talking to your best friend or something like that. That was a very difficult thing to teach someone, specifically someone over the internet. You can’t sit next to them and you can’t be like, “Oh, you’re doing this because you’re stressing some sort of muscle in your face or something,” you had to just try and work on voice cues. And sometimes people don’t know how they sound unless they’ve heard themselves recorded a lot. So that was definitely a hurdle, and then making sure all the DJs knew where music was and what music was good *laughs*
Yeah that initial organization and training was definitely a challenge.
Then what would you say were some challenges of maintaining it after you started the site?
I think some of the biggest challenges were…well, I feel like as we continued things got a lot easier? The hardest thing I guess would be establishing a presence at conventions because we always decided to do conventions, that we wanted to be at a convention, we wanted to have a setup and be able to live broadcast an event and give fans updates. But in the beginning it was very difficult to do that because conventions didn’t know what to do with us. They’re like, “Oh, you’re press; you have to pay for a table; you have to do this; well, you’re industry? Oh, you’re a band!” and I’m like, “…Nooooo?” *laughs*
You got called a band?
I’ve had been — and not by my own choice mind you — listed at conventions under some of the craziest labels, and I think it’s because when we started around 2010 to 2012, conventions just weren’t as focused on advertising. They were more focused on word of mouth and there were, in my opinion, way more fan events and not necessarily business events. So I feel that a lot of people looked at that and went, “Oh, well this is a thing I guess. Can you give me money for a table?” and they didn’t understand the value of the services we could offer. And now that’s not an issue. In fact this year we went to 57 conventions in total.
…That’s a lot of conventions.
Yes it is, I’ve went to about 20 of them, I’ve had a span of 12 weeks of conventions this year.*laughs* And that was, uh, “Ohhhhhh!” I’ve missed home, I’ve missed my cat. *laughs*
Before we move on, I do seriously want to know what was the craziest convention label you’ve had.
Definitely had to have been “Alternative Band.”
Were you like the backup to the backup band? *laughs*
Maybe it meant the genre, I’m not exactly sure. I’ve also had so many conventions get the name wrong, which is fine. It’s like, “Oh it’s 90.1 the Fan” instead of 91.8, so whenever anyone says, “Well how do I announce it?”
“Just the Fan! Just say it’s Fan please!” I’ve kinda given up on the numbers. And I don’t blame anybody. I’ve had the numbers in my head for 8 years, and I’ve been saying the same line for 8 years. “You’re tuned in to 91.8 the Fan.” Like I’ve said that over and over. So I can understand for somebody if they haven’t listened to it, it’s just a jumble of numbers.
So you’ve talked about going to all these conventions, business to fan panels at conventions, it makes me want to know what surprised you as you’ve managed to run the site since you’ve started it to today? What has changed within you?
Well for my personal growth, the past 2 years I’ve really focused on my own ventures. I’ve been very focused on expanding my talents to commercial voice over, I’ve been in a few animations. I was very lucky to work with Chris Niosi in Tome, I got to do one of the characters in that. It was really amazing. So I’ve been able to utilize my voice in new ways. In fact I think it was the other night, I realized my first song cover for Yuri on Ice!!. The opening is so good, so I released my first song cover on YouTube, and I don’t have a lot of subscribers, but in 24 hours it was 7,000 views, and the number is still going up. So I’m really happy to be able to explore these different avenues with my own voice. And that’s been the personal growth for me.
Ok, a little bit back to the Fan. You’ve interviewed many types of talent in the industry. What’s your general level of preparation when you’re about to interview someone?
So everyone is sort of surprised when I answer this question because people expect, “oh you must write like a list of questions and then you have branching questions,” and then you do deep researc–
It-isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? *laughs*
It is what you’re supposed to do! But I actually have found that I personally prefer kind of giving it an hour or two of research and not necessarily writing it down, just having it kind of jumble in my head. There are interviews where I’m required to give the questions in advance, which I will gladly do, but I find that the most natural, personal interviews are when it’s like a conversation. I don’t want to ask “how did you get into this role?” and then they get into this big story, then you go into your next question where it’s kinda unrelated. It’s like, what did you think of this role? You missed kind of a segway there. You missed an additional question because of their story. And there’s something about that style that’s kind of appealing to me, and I believe the fans really enjoy that as well.
So I’ve continued that to the best of my abilities! *laughs*
Yeah I’ve always had to find that balance between, “This person’s saying something interesting! Let me punt this question for maybe later,” to “Ok, this is something I definitely have to ask, I have to try and ask it.”
Yeah, I think it’s an amazing way to go about it because I think people get these list of questions and they’re glued to them. They can’t go off the paper so you miss an opportunity, if you will, of an unexplored story that only you would get.
What’s been the coolest moment for you this year?
So one of the coolest things I got to do is, and I try not to play favorites, I believe James Arnold Taylor — he plays the voice of Titus in Final Fantasy V, he did the voice of Fred Flintstone, was the voice double of Michael J. Fox, and he did young Emmett Brown in the Back to The Future games — he is just amazing. He’s really pursing his YouTube career right now, and he has these fantastic voice matching videos up, and every time I want to be inspired I watch those, and I finally had the opportunity to meet him face to face.
I think I interviewed him back in 2011 or 2012. It was at Megacon and I had the chance to give him a few Star Wars t-shirts because he is Obi-Wan Kenobi in Clone Wars. I was able to give him some free swag, and we were able to talk a little bit. It was so nice to meet him in person and…I guess this is weird to say but kind of feel his energy? Because you can only get so much from an online conversation.
Also David Hayter was there! Those are my two favorite dudes! Like Solid Snake is my superhero, and James has been with me in one of my favorite games, Final Fantasy 10, so their work has meant a lot to me as a person. So Megacon was really a highlight for me this year.
What’s going to be next for you after Final Fantasy Fan Fest?
So next we have Youmacon in Detroit. It’ll be our 5th year there. That convention means a lot to me. We’ve gone and we’ve been able to meet some fantastic people and the staff are so nice. They’ve always been so supportive. It’s just been like a big family you know. In my 3rd year that I went, I remember going up on stage for closing ceremonies and I started to get teary eyed. Like I almost felt like I was gonna stop crying because that was it. I couldn’t see Brad Swaile anymore, and it was the one time out of the year you get to see these people and I just felt, oh no, it’s already over! I have to wait a whole ‘nother year.
So Youmacon means personally a lot to me so I’m very excited for that coming up. Then after that I’m personally done with conventions until January *laughs* Then as soon as New Year’s over they have CES in Vegas. It is a very different type of show, as everyone walks around in business suits despite the fact that it’s really hot *laughs*
Final question: what anime has gotten your attention this year?
Well for this season it’s definitely Yuri!!! on Ice. Now, funny fact about what I do — despite the fact that I am in charge of an anime radio station I generally don’t have a lot of time to actually consume anime. I have a broad knowledge — “Ok this is coming out and this is coming out” — but I never get to sit around and watch the full shows. So Yuri!!! on Ice I’m watching, 91 Days I haven’t finished that yet but it’s been really good from what I’ve seen so far. I wanted to watch the sequel of Working but I’m not there yet. And the Yokai Watch movie comes out, but I won’t see it because I’m at Fan Fest!
So the only reason I know about Yokai, I’ve inherited a problem thanks to Final Fantasy XIV, but Yokai, they have little medals, and FF14 had a crossover event. You had to collect yokai medals and you got the minion and the weapon, and it’s a long grind. It took me about 2, 3 weeks? And in the meantime, I dived down a rabbit hole where I watched the first episode on YouTube, then watched the whole series on Netflix, and by the time I knew it I was caught up, and I had ordered the game…
…and now I just can’t get out because my friends have brought me medals and two little action figures of Koma-san and — *laughs* I feel like a dork explaining this–
Oh boy *laughs*
Koma-san’s like the cutest character to me. It’s supposed to be a rural, Japanese character, a country bumpkin, in the Japanese version, but in the US version, “they made him all southern and he goes, “Oh my swirls!” and it’s so adorable! *laughs* So now I’m addicted to that. Thank you FFXIV! I appreciate it!