10 Questions with ... Rob Brothers "Swami Rob"
July 26, 2011
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first job in radio is the one I still have today, 94.1 KZRR Albuquerque. That's an anomaly in the radio business. I was influenced by guys like Jim Rome, Scott Furrell, JT the Brick and a lot of Sports Talk guys. There were a lot of jocks at the Zoo in Dallas that I enjoyed listening to when I went to the first two years of college in Denton, but I can't recall any of their names now. TJ Trout, 94 Rock Morning Show host since 1986, was a HUGE influence. I used to listen to his show all the time before I came aboard as an intern in '96. Now, I'm one of his sidekicks. That's pretty cool.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I got my job through an internship program at the University of New Mexico. I'd say the "this is it" moment for me was when I realized I was flying the ship solo. My first air shift wasn't a team effort, and I really got a rush out of having no one to rely on but myself. I was paralyzed with fear, and my first air shift SUCKED. But, it was still a rush ... and I knew I wanted more.
3) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
I'd probably have been pursuing a career in sports writing for a newspaper. That's what I wanted to do originally when I was getting my degree at UNM. I ended up in radio due to a need for internship credits outside my chosen field. This worked out pretty well, because in radio I'm free to give my opinion on things, so I can let all the bandwagon-riding Lakers, Yankees, Red Sox, Steelers and Heat fans in town know what a bunch of idiots I think they are, and ride 'em HARD when their "teams" get beat. I'm a lifelong Mavericks fan, so the last few months have been particularly enjoying.
4) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff?
Uncle Nasty, 106.7 KBPI in Denver. He's great. Killer pipes, great sense of humor, and always knows what's compelling. I make a point of tuning in his show every time I'm in the Denver area, and sometimes I will check him out on the net too.
5) What is your favorite radio station outside of the market and why?
94.3 KILO in Colorado Springs. Their music is spot-on as far as I'm concerned. They do a great job of mixing new with the old, and their talent is always strong too. KILO freakin' rocks ... period.
6) Besides your own, what is your favorite radio format?
Sports Talk, hands down. I probably spend 90% of my listening time on that format. I was listening to that format when it wasn't so prevalent or as cool as it is today.
7) What's the best concert you've been to so far this year and why?
I'd have to say System of a Down at Hard Rock Pavilion back in June. I've had to miss them for one reason or another the last several times they'd come to town in the last 10 years. They've taken the last six years off from touring, so it was freakin' AWESOME to finally see them. Those guys most have whipped off at least 25 songs in their set, and didn't take more than 30 seconds in between songs, and they only did that maybe three times during the set. I've never seen a band bring it like that for two-and-a-half straight hours with that kind of intensity and that kind of energy.
I'm throwing in a vote for John McLaughlin at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, too. Not even close to our format, but I listen to a lot of that stuff in my spare time. That guy is one of the 10 most important guitar players of our time. If you don't agree, that's okay ... you're wrong.
8) Tell us what music we would find on your car or home CD player (or turntable) right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
If you looked in my car's CD player right now, you would find "The Infinite Steve Vai." I listen to it over and over and over. Vai is not human, and he doesn't care at all if it's commercially viable; he just plays. That's when the best music happens in my opinion, when an artist is bleeding all over their record without a care for sales or popularity. I tend to listen to a lot of stuff like that when I'm listening alone. I've also been listening to Sick Puppies, Red and Straight Line Stitch a bit recently.
9) What was the biggest gaffe you've made on-air? (dead air ... forget a mic was still on ... etc.)
I can't even count the number of times a mic was on when I was saying something I probably shouldn't have been saying. I should probably be diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. Most of our promotions people have learned to make sure the mic is always off when I'm in the vicinity. My station does a feature every Saturday night/Sunday morning, from midnight to 6a, called "The Saturday Night Six Pack," which is six CDs in their entirety back-to-back.
When I was still an intern, I remember getting called in to work that shift when the regular jock called in sick. They called me in on about 10 minutes notice, too. I had just finished working a double as a bartender at a local club when they called me in at about 10 minutes to midnight. I was so freakin' tired when I got to the station I could barely keep my eyes open. I took an alarm clock with me, and would check the run times of all theCDs that were being played that night, and I set the alarm to go off in the studio when the disc had about five minutes left to play. I would start the CD, crash out on the floor, and when the alarm went off I would wake up, back-sell the disc, front-sell the next, and repeat the process. I got to the third disc in the set, did my break to introduce it, then set the alarm for 67 minutes. I woke up to the alarm 67 minutes later, and the disc was skipping ... on track #2! That thing had been skipping for probably an hour. The request lines were going crazy. Luckily, my PD was probably crashed out, too, at that time because I never heard anything about it come Monday.
10) Please describe the best or worst promotion you've ever been part of?
94 Rock has done this promotion several times and it's always a home run. We call it "Worker's Compensation." Listeners send us the name of their place of work, what they do there, and what times they work. We pick three or four names at random every day, and we show up unannounced and present them with an envelope. They get the prize listed inside it. It could be an iPod; it could be concert tickets; it could be the big prize, which if I remember correctly was $10,000. We put them on the air when we get there, too. I'll never forget a guy who was the floor buffer at the big Walmart in Belen, which is about a half-hour south of Albuquerque. He worked 11 p until 3 a. We showed up out there about 2 in the morning, and he won a cool priz,e too. That guy freaked out. I'm certain we won that guy as a listener for life after that.
What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you at a remote?
I was on a big stage in front of about 300 people at a remote in a huge club. We were about to give away a Harley that night. I was sitting side-saddle style on it talking to the audience on the mic, and when I stood up, it fell over on top of me, knocking me off the stage but pinning my legs underneath it from my shins down. It took three guys to lift it off of me, and when they finally did get it off, I fell face first onto the dance floor. My socks and my shoes stayed underneath the Harley after I fel,l too. It hurt about as bad as anything I've experienced, but I managed to laugh it off ... until I got outside. Then I cussed for five minutes straight and never repeated one curse word. I still have two nasty scars on my right shin to prove it happened -- and that was eight years ago.
What's the closest you ever came to getting arrested for an on-air stunt? Or did you actually get arrested?
I was auditioning live on the air to be the sports guy for the Lewis and Floorwax Show in Denver back in 2000. The Colorado Avalanche had just beaten the Phoenix Coyotes at the Pepsi Center in Denver in a play-off game the night before 4-0. Lewis and Floorwax made me go to the Phoenix Coyotes' hotel and knock on the goalie's door and hand him some Swiss cheese because he allowed four goals. Then they wanted me to go down the hallway where the players were staying with a bullhorn and do the Coyote howl. I wasn't arrested, but I thought for sure I was going to get my ass kicked by a bunch of NHL players. Luckily, I got out of there in time to miss a serious ass whoopin'.
In your opinion, what is the greatest song ever that never made it as a hit?
When I was music director for 94 Rock, we added a band called Puya. I thought for sure they would be HUGE here because they were heavy, but most of their lyrics were in Spanish. I played the hell out of their first single when I was doing nights, pimped it like crazy ... and nothing. Nobody bit. I still listen to their albums regularly, and I still don't get why that band didn't blow up. I thought for sure they were going to, especially given the fact that over half of Albuquerque's population is Hispanic.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you get to pick one artist to be stuck with you. Who would it be and don't limit it to our format?
Gwen Stefani. You figure out why.
Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
Red Bull, and a lot of it. I work two dayparts, mornings and afternoons. If I don't shotgun a 16-ounce Red Bull prior to each shift I'm worthless. Some would argue I am anyway.
How do you stay in tune with your audience?
I actually TALK to them on the phones. I actually TALK to them at remotes. I actually TALK to them at concerts. I find out what they're listening to, what bands they like, what they do for a living, that kind of thing.