10 Questions with ... Todd "Nuke' Em" Noker
May 13, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started at KJQ in 1988 doing overnights and then did evenings for a few years. I joined KXRK doing nights in 1992, and then moved to afternoons was Assistant Program Director. In 2002, I moved within the company to program KJQ. In 2003 I was brought back to program KXRK until I was dismissed in December 2011. I was brought back to KXRK in July 2012, where I am happy to be the Program Director once again.
1. After over 20 years at X96, what stands out the most?
I am most impressed with the dedication of our staff to create the best product on the air. We've all been here pretty much the entire time X96 has existed, and we all work very hard to keep things fresh and interesting.
2. How difficult was it for you to leave X96 and then return months later?
It was awful. When they let me go in 2011, it was devastating. Who in their right mind would blow out a program director who was dominating the market in their target demos? I was stunned, horrified, and ultimately depressed to not be a part of X96. When you work so passionately to build a radio station, it rips a bit of your heart out when suddenly you are escorted from the building. For me, this has always been more than just a job. Returning to the air in July of 2012 felt great. And it happened because the listeners and my staff pretty much demanded that I return. I am forever indebted to the X96 listeners and my co-workers.
3. What do you love most about working at X96?
I love the listeners and I love that X96 is so much a part of the community. This is more than just a radio station.
4. What makes X96 a successful Alternative station?
We have the right air staff. Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred, and Gina Barberi (collectively known as Radio From Hell) keep it interesting in the morning with a slightly liberal slant on local happenings. Jon Smith, who handles middays, is one of the funniest jocks in the business. Corey O'Brien has anchored our nights for more than a decade and always finds the coolest new music. Richie T. produces Radio From Hell and works his ass off keeping that program on top of big events and getting them out into the market for on-site shows. Our staff knows the market and lives the format lifestyle, and it shows. You can't fake this format; the listeners will smell the B.S. and will disown you.
5. The station recently changed owners to Broadway Media. How will this impact X96?
Our new owners have been amazing. We went from basically being handcuffed by an investment bank to being owned by an excited, energetic local guy who has basically given us no limits in what we can do to dominate the market. He is eager to invest. We have a brand new state of the art facility under construction that will include a live performance space and an actual venue where we can book concerts. Our new vision for our digital and online plans is massive. Everyone in the company is so enthusiastic about the future. Broadcasting has become fun again!
6. What sort of things make X96 unique?
We focus on our market and our listeners. Staring at a chart and blindly following what other markets do is suicide.
7. How much are you balancing gut with research when making decisions on new music?
I love to make gut calls with new music. But it is more than gut. It is 25 years in this format and this market that goes into those decisions.
8. What is most important to you when championing new music for the station?
It kind of goes back to the proverbial gut decision, really. When it is a song that I know our audience will love, it makes it fun to embrace. And it is important when the artists recognize that and come to our market and involve the station-and our audience-so that everyone feels like they are a part of the success.
9. How are you using Social Media?
We use it to speak with our audience and to bounce them back to the station or to our website. Again, we are about to make some significant improvements with this.
10. What has been your biggest challenge at the station?
The hardest part is to keep it fresh and new. My staff and I have been doing this for years, so the struggle is to keep it fresh and keep it moving forward. Right now, the energy provided by our new owners and management team is massive, and it is fueling creativity and opportunity for us to reinvent pretty much everything.
Not many PDs are punk rock enough to have a Mohawk. What led to your cool and colorful Mohawk?
It was mostly a necessity fueled by male pattern baldness! But it turned out to be somewhat of a trademark. People recognize me everywhere I go, and that is never a bad thing.
Behind that Mohawk is the author, Todd Noker. Tell us about your books?
I have a few books and a couple of them aren't bad at all. Rated F-my most successful novel-is a satire about censorship taken too far. My other novel is a young adult novel called Blogs of Wrath. It was co-authored by Zack Shutt who, at the time, was a wise-beyond-his-years teenager. He made sure I kept it real when dealing with the joys of being a teen. I dredged up a lot of my personal teen angst for that one, and it is a novel that everyone can relate to.
Finally, you also find time to be a football referee. Is this a dream job?
Haha! I would love to make it to the NFL, but my real job of programming a radio station keeps me quite busy. I officiate high school football in the fall and I absolutely love it. I get to be on the field, right in the action. It is sometimes difficult when a coach recognizes you as his favorite radio personality, and then you have to make a call against his team. I just pray that he isn't wearing a PPM.