Up Close and Personal with Immy
With K-Pop becoming more and more mainstream over the course of the years, it would come as no surprise to hear K-Pop playing over international radio. Immy, host of the east coast radio show Daebak K-Pop with Immy, is one of the few radio DJs to play K-Pop nonstop internationally. Her radio show airs every Sunday, where listeners have the chance to request their favorite songs, listen in on exclusive interviews with those involved in the K-Pop community, and so much more. This year during KCON LA 2018, The Kraze had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with Immy and get up close and personal with her in an exclusive interview!
Q: For our readers who are getting the chance to know you for the first time, can you please give a little introduction about yourself?
A: Hi guys my name is Immy, I am an east coast K-Pop radio DJ. I started the show back in 2016 and since then it has harbored over 25 countries with listeners. [The show] is once a week every Sunday and I just celebrated my 100th show [and] second year doing this and it is my first time coming to KCON being an actual panelist. The year before that I was working with MACG Productions, then the year before that I was actually just a regular KCON goer like everyone else. I am on YouTube, I have my own podcast, I’m featured in other podcasts all about Hallyu Wave stuff, I write for MACG Magazine, and I go to K-Pop events and cover them.
Q: How did you get into K-Pop? What were the first groups/artists or songs that you listened to?
A: In March of 2015 I was going through Instagram, back when Instagram videos were 15 seconds, and I saw 15 seconds of GOT7’s “Stop Stop It” and it rolled by and was like “Oh, what’s this?” [then] went to see in the comments what people were saying and looked them up on YouTube. I’ve always been a fan of boy groups and girl groups, just music with multiple members in a group in general, so I just watched literally everything. Then by the end of 2015 I was really inspired by the MAMA awards and I was like “You know what? I want to start a radio show about K-Pop music and people that are just like me [who are] probably just discovering it or are the only person in their city that thinks they know K-Pop.” Then I just immersed myself into the culture; I watched TV shows, dramas, and I’m self-teaching myself the language.
Q: What groups or songs are you currently listening to on repeat?
A: My current faves are always DAY6 and MONSTA X. [DAY6] just released “Shoot Me” in late June. I’ve seen MONSTA X three times if you count KCON, and DAY6 I’ve seen once. My faves for girls is always EXID [who I’ve seen] twice. [For soloists] Jung Sewoon, I love Chungha [as well.] BoA has been on repeat since her new EP release in February, [she’s] a strong one. Oh and NCT, they’re like my life.
Q: What made you decide to get into radio?
A: I’ve always, always loved music no matter if it was going to a concert [or just listening at home]. My mom used to have a radio show way back when and [started up again] now. It’s always been music for me to express myself, [it’s] how I’m able to escape from stuff, how I’m able to get myself to get back up and inspire others. When I talk about passions it’s always around music or a culture. Radio just made sense because I’ve always wanted to look into music management, maybe [even] singing myself, [or] a little bit of performance art. Radio is somewhere where I can talk and play the music that I like. I don’t have to sing my own music, manage someone else’s music career, [and] I can technically have my own expression on music that is already established. It’s more free; I’m someone who likes to talk so radio just felt right because it always [allows] me speaking my mind and it’s different from video and YouTube. I wanted to do something different and underrepresented.
Q: What goes into the preparation of being a radio host? How long and how much planning goes into the process of doing each episode?
A: It depends on the episode. I have themes, so every week is something different. I try to give at least one Sunday a month to just requests. I’ve done K-Drama shows which are really popular. I’ve [also] done underrepresented groups or artists, [or] just strictly ballads so we can get extra artists put in, album reviews of my own, listeners voting for reviews and kind of interpret my own feelings on it. Usually it depends on the theme of the show; if I have an interview it takes a lot of prep because I try and get listeners involved. If it’s a theme show, I put 10-15 hours [total] and [if it’s] an interview I’ll put 10-15 just editing the interview itself. It takes a lot of brainpower [to consider] what a lot of my listeners want. Pretty much it is an all week process getting up to that Sunday. I put in a lot of work because my listeners are worth it.
Q: If you could have any K-Pop group or artist on your radio show, who would it be and why?
A: I was asked this question last November, and I specifically said DAY6 at the time mainly because I’d just want to ask more questions about K-Pop music [production] and how they make it. I started with them, they’re a group that debuted the year I got into K-Pop so I feel more attached [to them] and I feel I could get them to open up through interview. Or GOT7 because they are what got me into K-Pop. So DAY6 for the more intimate questions, and GOT7 for nostalgia and coming full-circle.
Q: You also have a podcast! Can you please tell readers more about it?
A: My podcast is called “The Sprinkle Podcast.” It’s about unpopular K-Pop opinions that are considered constructive criticism or based on personal experiences, [and] ways we want to help international fans experience K-Pop better. It’s not just myself, I’m actually a co-host, but I created it wanting to have other co-hosts come in. I wanted a YouTuber’s perspective, a writer’s perspective, and an expert in mental health to bring it full circle with unpopular opinions so it’s not one sided and there is dialogue going on and we don’t censor each other. We talk once a month about different subjects in the Hallyu Wave.
Q: How do you determine what topics you talk about for your radio show and podcast that you participate in?
A: For the radio show, if I am to cover a “hot topic,” it usually has to be one directly asked by multiple listeners, because [I leave channels open all the time and] it’s hard to respond 20 times [to each single request]. I usually have them ask questions and I answer them or I’ll tell my feelings [on the subject]. For the podcast, we pretty much do what we want because it’s uncensored, where the radio show is through a station. We’ll usually come up with themes, where each host will have what they want to talk about with their likes and dislikes and we’ll break it down that way. We’re getting ready to upload a YouTuber one coming up that is very interesting, and later on we'll be talking about the BTS craze, the negatives and positives and fandom craze [in general]. It depends on what’s going on in the K-Pop world and how it affects us.
Q: What advice would you give to those who are wanting to get into radio hosting or starting up a podcast?
A: Do what you want to do, but do it in a safe way that gets your message across at the same time and doesn’t hurt anybody else purposefully. You have be your own commander and take advice, [but] take it into consideration [and] still continue to do what you want to do. You’re going to fail, you’re going to be tired. If the passion is not there, then it's just not going to happen. You can’t be someone else, you can’t copy, but you can finesse and make it into your own, but you won’t get anywhere by copying or being fake. You have to put a lot of work into it because you honestly love it more than anything. In terms of the podcast, just talk [and] make everything seem natural, it’s just a conversation that’s being recorded.
Q: Last question, are there any updates, information or future plans that you would like to tell readers to look forward to in the coming future?
A: I am currently working on getting the show syndicated. It’s already worldwide but I want to put it in more platforms and really get it out there that K-Pop radio is just as important as K-Pop YouTube or K-Pop music itself, that there are people out here that really want to do this. I want to keep going further, keep bringing Hallyu content to people that appreciate it and really need it, no matter what they’re going through. Look forward to more podcasts and more content all around!
On behalf of The Kraze, thank you so much to Immy for taking the time to have this interview with us!
Follow Immy on all her social media below and make sure to tune every Sunday to her radio show!
Radio Show: http://www.wcuw.org/ (Airs every Sunday 4PM-6PM EST)