10 Questions with ... The Baka Boyz
July 12, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Began DJing in 1984 at a teenage night club, AM radio in Bakersfield 1988. Moved on to produce records, landing three songs on Kid Frost's album 1991. Became mix show guys and Co-MDs at KKXX 1991, continued producing records and worked with Ice Cube, Yo Yo, Cypress Hill, The Pharcyde, House of Pain. Landed Friday Night slot "Friday Nite Flavas" on Power 106 in 1993, then hired on to do overnights, then night show, then morning show eight months after arriving at Power. Left Power in 1999 to kick their ass across the street on KKBT 100.3 The Beat 2000.
Went to do mornings at KMEL, at the same time creating the syndicated "Hip-Hop Master Mix" with 25 stations. Left KMEL and retained the rights to Hip-Hop Master Mix and took it to SUPERADIO 2002. In 2003 we went across the country and turned on WMIB 103.5 The Beat and forced 99 JAMZ and POWER 96, two heritage radio stations, to change morning shows several times. In 2008 we battled in San Diego on Blazing 98.9 Broadcasting from Los Angeles.
During this time, we left, have done several syndication deals with other companies retaining ownership and adding on a Top 40/Rhythmic/Pop-hybrid version, "The All-Star Hit Mix." This year (2016) we created Baka Boyz Media (BBM), our own syndication company and tied the knot with United Stations Radio Networks to handle our AD sales and partnered with syndication veteran Liz Laud to do in-house Affiliate relations.
1) Share with us your creation story, how did the Baka Boyz become the Baka Boyz?
We weren't always The Bakas; we had several personal DJ names including, but not limited to Sly, Slick & Wicked (broke up) LOL. Then E.N.V. Productions until one day while traveling to L.A. to work on tunes with rapper A.L.T. (Tequila) (Atlantic Records), we knocked on the door and he was too busy smoking, drinking and playing cards with his buddies. He yelled, "Come in, the doors unlocked!" So we did; at which point he proceeded to declare to his friends "Hey look guys, it's the Baker Boys" Eric and I looked at each other and knew right then and there that we were indeed "The Baka Boyz"
2) Congratulations on your new business venture; how did it all come about and what are the plans?
We were looking to grow our business and we planned on creating our new company Baka Boyz Media (BBM), but needed some aggressive partners that believed in the BBM brand. The plan is to be the creative force behind the future sound of radio, providing broadcast companies with top-notch programming that they can't really afford to pay for on a market-by-market basis. Times are tough, but that doesn't mean that the radio audience should continue to be served up less than spectacular programming. Our current shows are on over 60 stations nationally and a couple international stations.
3) Your affiliate relations person sounds special to you, why is that?
We played golf with Liz Laud 20 years ago while she was still at Westwood One as the VP/Affiliate Relations Entertainment Programming. The funny thing was, back then we never talked about business or even dreamed that we would one day be the tag team that we have become. She's always been awesome and when a mutual friend recommended that we reconnect, it was a no-brainer. She helped us strategize our move a year before we officially made the announcement. She is an incredible spirit and we consider her family.
4) So how does it work between you and your brother, who does what?
Eric: Well we both have our roles. Nick produces the show and does half of the mixes for our two weekly mix shows. I do my part with mixing, hosting and looking for new songs to put in the shows to keep it current and fresh at the same time. We have the Hip-Hop Master Mix with artists like Drake, Future, A$ap Rocky, and so on. And we have a Top 40 Rhythmic pop show called the All-Star Hit Mix with artists like Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris, Flume, The Chainsmokers and so on.
5) That leads me to another question, what's it like working with your brother?
Nick: Working with my brother has been good and bad. We are both different, he's more optimistic about things and I'm more pragmatic. I need to see things in action to become engaged and excited about a project or job. He's more of a go-getter so I know that can be frustrating for him at times.
6) Would you tell us about the non-syndicated radio stuff you do, like your involvement with music?
Eric: Nick is heavily involved in music production, working with artists, writers, producers and sync licensing. We have also created our own record label under BBM, digitally distributed through Empire, which is the largest independent music distribution company in America.
7) Do you think it's important to give back to the industry?
It's imperative to give back to the industry. How else do we find, groom and promote the next on-air talent? Yes, it is very important to give back as far as grooming and looking for new talent, but the radio world we live in today doesn't allow that with syndication and consolidation. There is not a lot of great talent out there.
We've always said, "Show me somebody with personality and we can teach them radio, but personality cannot be taught." You either have it or you don't. You can't make someone who isn't funny a comedian on the radio and that is the problem with the talent these days and also with programmers that don't know the difference.
8) When people ask you how to get into syndication, what do you tell them?
We would say you have to have some stations on board with your show/shows and it's all about the programming. When we started our show the Hip-Hop Master Mix in 2001, we were PPM-friendly way before PPM was even introduced into the radio world. That show has been running 16 years and if we weren't relevant and keeping up with what's going on, it would not have lasted this long so consistency is key to this success of any syndicated show.
9) Outside of the business of radio and entertainment in general, what are some of your goals?
Nick: Community service, raise awareness and humanity through action, cooking, working out, hiking, juicing
10) Who are some of the people who have influence your careers?
Nick: Tony G, Julio G (Original KDAY 1580) Johnny Carson, Jam Master Jay, Dick Clark, Timbaland,
Eric: I'd say Steve Wall at KKXX in Bakersfield; he was the first PD to give a couple of kids at the time a shot to be on FM radio and we are grateful for that. Also Rick Cummings from Power 106; he really groomed us into programmers and we've used those skills to create one of the most successful syndicated mix shows that's still going in a radio world that's not exactly mix show friendly these days. On the DJ side, definitely Tony G and Julio G from the early KDAY AM. We used to hire them to come from L.A. to Bakersfield just so we could watch them play and soak up any technics and knowledge we could from them. They are the whole reason we got into radio; we wanted to do our version of them.
Is there anything about both of you which would surprise people?
Nick: I love to cook, I have run the L.A. Marathon, I have four beautiful daughters ages 14, 21, 22 and 27 and two handsome grandchildren two and seven. I juice every morning, 32 ounces. My dad used to make me dance for guests and bribed me with dollar bills, LOL, I won a talent show when I was 9 or 10 by dancing to "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang while in a white tuxedo with burgundy trim.
Eric: I'm a homebody. I used to golf a lot but not much anymore, I play a lot of video games, mainly Madden 16 right now, and love to go to the movies. Nothing exciting like Nick. No kids for me but I have my dog Coco, who is a Maltese and love more than most people I know. lol.
Where do you see radio in five ... 10 years?
Where do we see radio in five-10 years, it needs to be more engaging with the audience. We think a lot of radio stations seem to miss the mark on what the customer wants. I think people are tired of being stuck in the box of regular programming; their listeners' palette is more diverse then they'd like to admit. We believe radio should be more interactive, visual and connected with people, like social media is today.