10 Questions with ... Nik Rivers
April 22, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WINK/Elmira, WHOB/Nashua, WAAF/Boston, WPXC/Cape Cod (MD/Nights), WRLX (Planet Radio 92.1)/West Palm Beach (MD/Nights), WPBZ (103.1 The Buzz)/West Palm Beach (MD/afternoons), WZMR (104.9 The Edge)/Albany, NY (PD/middays), WZNE (94.1 The Zone)/Rochester, NY (PD/middays), WFKL (Fickle 93.3)/Rochester, NY (PD), WLKK (Alternative Buffalo 107.7) (PD/middays).
1. What led you to Alternative Buffalo?
It's a dead giveaway...90. I mean, I just drove 65 miles to the West. In all seriousness, a great opportunity. It was the chance to build a station from the ground up, and to be part of an Alternative family that includes great stations like KNRK/Portland, KNDD/ Seattle. KRBZ/Kansas City, and KKDO/Sacramento.
2. What do you love most about working at Entercom?
The people here in the Buffalo building have been amazing so far! I keep thinking that they are just being nice to me, because I'm the new guy, but they are genuinely a great group of people. From my GM Greg Ried, to the sales staff, and the folks at the other stations, it's just a great environment to be in. As a Programmer, Entercom understands that each market is its own entity, and they have given me the autonomy I need to Program the station the way it needs to be programmed for the Buffalo market.
3. How would you describe yourself as a programmer?
About 6'3", White shirt, sweater vest, devastatingly handsome.
4. How aggressive do you consider yourself in championing new music and what is most important to you?
I tell ya, with so many bands and labels out there with new artists, it's like your being chased by an Angry Mob sometimes. But I do like to be aggressive when it comes to new music. That is what Alternative Buffalo is all about...New Music Discovery. It is all about finding the right balance of sound and texture for the station. Also, I like to find records that I think will be reactive for our audience. The ones that will stand up and raise their hand, and cause our listeners to tweet, or text us to find out what the song is.
5. Tell us about the station's signal coverage?
I am actually amazed by the area that we cover. In addition to covering all of the Buffalo Metro, we actually extend south into Pennsylvania, North into Canada, and cover the entire Rochester market to the East. It makes a lot of my listeners from my WZNE days happy that they can still tune in and hear me daily in the ROC.
6. Why do you think the Buffalo market didn't have an Alternative station for so long?
I blame it on the inner anger of Lenny Diana... (lol). You know, that is actually a real good question. The people here have been so passionate about Alt Buffalo since we signed on the air. They have been packing the shows that have come to town, and buying the records that we are playing. After Entercom did their market research, they determined that Alternative is where the hole in the Buffalo radio landscape was, and I think they hit the nail on the head, based on the reaction to the station so far.
7. What makes Alternative Buffalo unique?
As the musical landscape of the Alternative format has changed, we have decided to change the way that Alternative is going to be presented to the audience. Gone are the zaps, zings and swishes in the imaging, the toilet humor on a morning show, and the angry looking logo with a black background. We have taken a minimalist approach to the sound of the station on the air. The imaging is no more than a station voice telling the audience who they are listening to, and we let the music be the star. Our jocks are knowledgeable and passionate about the music that they are playing, and the sincerity is being warmly received by our audience. We are making a strong local connection with the people of Buffalo, and giving them the product and music that they want, in their city.
8. Tell us about Alternative Buffalo on-air lineup?
It took a little bit to bring it together, but now we have a great mix of veteran and new on-air talent at Alt Buffalo. Bentley starts things off on the 6a-noon shift. She comes to us with the unique combination of having on-air experience as well as a background as a trained music journalist, which allows her to deliver a great mix of musical knowledge and content to our listeners. I hold down the noon-6p shift with my usual nonsensical ramblings, and my former WZNE cohort Axe made the 65 mile move to be our New Music Ambassador from 6p-midnight, and also hosts The Underground Collective (our New Music Show) on Sunday nights from 6-8p. Weekends is a staff of four; Zaque, Brandi, Shannon, and Chelsea O, who also hosts our Local Music Show - "Localized" - Sunday Nights from 8-9p.
9. How are you using social media to interact with listeners?
To start, it was our only connection with our listeners. The station started in a closet somewhere in engineering, while the studio was being built out. So we leaned on Social Media heavily to interact with our listeners. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were our only means of communication. We have since added in texting, and studio phones are coming soon. But even once they are active, I feel our audience will continue to be text and social media heavy. The numbers continue to grow daily, and it gives our listeners that instant connection that they crave, and truly makes them a part of our #AltFamily.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I am a fan of a Hockey Team that no longer exists. Long live The Mighty Hartford Whalers. And yes, it kills me that they won the cup once they moved to Carolina.
How did you become a New York Yankees and New York Giants fan?
I grew up In Bridgeport Connecticut, in the Southwest corner of the state. And more importantly to the West of I-91. It seems the folks to the East of I-91 are generally Boston fans, and those to the west have much better tastes and root for the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. Oh and let us not forget the three time National Champion UCONN HUSKIES men's basketball team.
I hear you were sporting a fancy cane at SXSW. Tell us about your major knee surgery last year and the recovery process?
It was actually my ankle, but you were close... I had to have a total right ankle reconstruction last September. It was legit! They replaced three tendons, two ligaments, and did a ton of bone work as well. I'm hoping the new parts came from a NFL kicker that would allow for some awesome opportunities. It's been a long and slow recovery, and of course this winter has been brutal here in Western NY. So it has been an adventure to say the least. But I'm down to using my pimp cane only on occasion, and am on the road to a full recovery.