Alumni Spotlight: Nick Centanni of The Moldie Oldies
November 19th, 2010 by Amanda Nolan
Last week, I caught up with WLOY alum/current DJ, Nick Centanni, host of The Moldie Oldies, which plays every Wednesday from 10AM until noon. I tracked Nick down, asked him a couple of questions and got, well, some extremely elaborate answers. Read on to see how the class of 2010 graduate is doing while he sends us his show every week from the Nick-cave.
WLOY: You graduated from this fine establishment in 2010. How’s the life of a graduate treatin’ ya?
Nick Centanni: So far so good! But, as you know, the microphone is addicting. And, while I have a job with PwC, I still enjoy doing The Moldie Oldie Show.
WLOY: At WLOY, we have a big, fancy on-air studio. You send your show to us from a remote location. How does your studio at home compare?
NC: I dubbed my at-home studio the “Silver Bullet Studios.” [See picture above!] (The name is derived from the microphone John was kind enough to ‘loan’ me.) It overlooks a swimming pool high atop the apartment complex where I currently live in Alexandria, VA. As you can see in the picture, the ‘gold’ campus royalty phone is on the shelf. This, along with the Epyks server allows me to take phone calls. Also, thanks to John’s generosity in providing me with duplicate vinyl titles, I am able to keep spinning records from the grove-yard. My turntable is not as big and fancy as the Technics 1200’s at the WLOY studios but it gets the job done.
Even though the configuration of equipment makes it easy for me to do my show, and allows me to add more special effects, I’ll admit it is not as much fun as doing a live show from the prestigious WLOY studios. Even though I do not edit my show and record it as though it is live, as you would probably agree Amanda, there is a certain something in being able to look out the big glass window, see the analog level meters move, and take the un-predicable phone calls/events which come with doing the show live.
WLOY: What is your fondest WLOY-related memory?
NC: Hmm, this is a tough one because there are so many for me. But I will single out two things. When I first started at WLOY my freshman year I did a talk-radio show. That same year, I was able to interview the man who pioneered the talk format – the real Bob Grant. I was very humbled by the fact that he agreed to do an interview with me, a teenage punk. As John will tell you, we had some technical trouble recording it, but everyone at the station helped us recover a large portion of it.
My fondest memory of the Moldie Oldie Show occurred last year when I recorded the Ultimate Christmas Shows for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I spent close to 6 hours in the WLOY studio recording the shows live. Throughout the time I was on, all different WLOY employees and other students joined me to co-host portions of the show. Some also called in. It was a lot of fun to record and listen to!
WLOY: Moldie Oldies features the hits from the 50s – 70s. Last time I checked, you were born in the late 80s. Where did your interest in the music from this era originate?
NC: To be perfectly honest, I am not really sure. Maybe it’s genetics? Over the summer my Dad gave me a bunch of his records and surprisingly most of what was in his large collection I had been playing all year! I have always liked a variety of music from Frank Sinatra to current hits and it may surprise some to know that I am also a big fan of country music. (BTW – Interesting country music fact: As of right now, country legend George Strait has had more #1 hit singles than any other artist in history.) In any event, like most people I was always familiar with the moldie oldie staples like “Build Me Up Buttercup,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “My Girl.” And listening to hit radio stations always bored me. They would play the same songs over and over again and that was it. No personality. No jingles. No big sound. Just music and commercials. I can do that just as easily on my ipod without commercials and only play the songs I want hear. But oldies stations in the New Jersey/ New York area (where I’m from) were and to some degree still are personality driven. Maybe it’s because oldies music is easier to talk up, or maybe the song titles are just easier to pun? I don’t know. But I always found the oldies stations fun to listen to. In the process, I was exposed to a wide variety of songs I naturally had never heard before. It has surprised me how many other students actually do know most of the songs I play on the show. Of course it’s not necessarily their fulltime music of choice, but it is not a turnoff either. I think that Christmas music epitomizes what I mean. Everyone knows the Mariah Carey, N’Sync, Rascal Flatts Christmas songs, but who doesn’t like to hear Gene Autry’s Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer or Bing Crosby’s White Christmas? Those songs came out in the 1940s!
Even though I am playing oldies, what I try to do every time I get behind the microphone is make people wonder ‘what is he going to play next?’ or ‘will he use a jingle in between the songs?’ or ‘how is he going to tie the songs together thematically?’ But most of all, I try to make it fun and upbeat for whoever happens to listen to the whole show or just catch a small portion of it. With a few exceptions, almost all of the songs I play are fast paced and about 3 minutes long for this reason. I try to do this so if someone does not like the song that is playing, chances are I will have one they will like shortly. My goal is to make the show different than anything else on radio today and to make it interactive.
WLOY: If there was a spontaneous fire and you had only had time to save one album, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds or The Beatles’ Abbey Road, which album would you save?
NC: I would grab Pet Sounds then hit the road jack.
WLOY: You’re a DJ veteran. Any advice you would give to the newbies?
NC: Well I don’t know if I’m a ‘veteran.’ Something essential thing I would recommend is to have fun! Even though it’s not the same as TV where you can see the person, listeners can usually tell if a host is not having a good time. If they sense that, chances are they will stop listening. I would also suggest scouring the WLOY music archives. There is so much great music waiting to be discovered both in record/cd form.
Additionally, I would recommend recording your show on that CD player John installed last year then listen to it later. Believe me, I know first hand how strange it felt to listen to myself on the air the first few times, but I have found that it is really the only way to see how the show sounds as opposed to the way one hears themselves doing the show live. One last thing, drink at least two cups of regular coffee before each show to get that high octane sound!