Nautica De La Cruz
Interview with Nautica De La Cruz, on air personality for Radio Free 102.3 KJLH
By Biko N. Poindexter Hodge
Sentinel: Who is Nautica Del La Cruz on an everyday basis?
Nautica De La Cruz: Nautica is a, as I call it the S.A.S. Nautica has style, attitude and swagger. I am a very sassy young lady, I am a mother of a six year old, I am married to P.J. Butta who has also been in radio now for many years. I am a very opinionated, blunt New Yorker. That’s who I am.
Sentinel: Did you always want to work in radio?
N.D.L.C: No, no, no, no. My first love was T.V. My first love is T.V. And I actually work with channel 3, I work for LB TV. I do a show that is called, Inside Long Beach. Actually next Saturday is my season premiere of my third season premiere of the show. I have always wanted to do TV, but I always wanted to do a show like Access Hollywood, Extra or Entertainment Tonight. So when I was in college I did and internship at channel 4 in the Bay Area. And I noticed that TV is really hard to get into. And at the same time I was majoring in R.T.F., which is Radio, Television, Film and I minored in Theater.
I said, ‘Hey, I can’t be in front of a tube, so I can be behind a microphone and acting like I’m on the tube.’ Except, that no one will see me, they will just hear me. So, I said, ‘let me try out radio’. So, I was going for an internship for a radio station after I did my TV internship. I said, “No”. I am also half-Latina. So I said, “I am going to go to a Spanish radio station. So I went and I was in San Jose, and I went to about 14 radio stations. And they look and said, ‘Aw she is kind of cute, here she comes with her resume. No, we already have an intern. I got turn downed 14 times.
I went from San Fransisco and drove all the way down to San Jose. I am at the last radio station, the last and final radio station which was called, KLTA. And I went in and the program director was there and he did the afternoon show. And I said to him, ‘Good afternoon my name is Nautica De La Cruz, I am looking for an internship. I go to San Jose State University, and I need credit in order to pass the class. And so he said, ‘what are your school hours?’ and I told him and he said, “Ok!, I’ll tell you what. We are about to go live on this next break, why don’t you read this Pepsi commercial and this sponsor in Spanish. So, I did! Right there on the spot. And then I read the sponsor and he introduces me and then we got to break. So he said, “You got any good jokes?” And I said, “I don’t have too many Spanish jokes, but I’ll tell one.”
So I tell the joke in Spanish and then they kind of look at me and then they kind of smirk. So then they go to commercial break, and then he looks at me and says, ‘So, you think your funny?’ and then I said, “Well, yeah I think I’m funny.” Then he said, “What are you doing tomorrow?” And I said, “Well, I just have to work in the afternoon”. I was just working in a dental office, I was also a dental assistant. Then he said, “Ok, well come in tomorrow and come in the day after that and then come in the day after that. Your internship starts tomorrow.”
Sentinel: Who or what inspired you to get into radio?
N.D.L.C.: “Well, like I said, I really wanted to do television. So as I got the internship at the Spanish radio station. I also had to work at an English station. So I ended up doing my own show at my college’s rival studio.
And I got a lot of slack for that at San Jose State because they were like, ‘You come to this school, you should be doing radio here’. And I was like, ‘No, first of all you are not giving me a good time slot, second of all, I don’t want to do a rock show. I would feel contrived. So anyways I did it and I got a little of recognition there. Then when I was in college I met P.J. Butta, kind of like a blind date. So he kind of helped me put my air-check together. I remember, I ended up taking it to Power 106 and within three days they called me back and I got a job at Power like that.
Sentinel: It seems like you have been put through tests and get it right on the first try?
N.D.L.C.: And the funny story about Power was when you know P.J. had called me and was like,’Hey, you know today is like the third day and they should have received it by then. They should call you. And I got off the phone with P.J. and I pick up the phone to look up Power 106’s number, and while got the phone in my hand the phone rings. And so it was their program director at that time, her name was Michelle. And she said, ‘Hi, I’m looking for Nautica De La Cruz’. And I said, “This is her speaking’. And she says, ‘Hi, this is Michelle from Power 106’.
And I was interviewed, and it was the best interview ever.’ ‘And little did I know, I had the job, but she didn’t tell me that I had the job. And so when I went she said, ‘you know what, I am just going to try you out.’ So I went and tried out at Power 106. She called me back Sunday night, and on that Monday morning and said, ‘Can you come in? I need to talk to you.’
So I was very blessed, very blessed and I was blessed that I started off doing the weekend shift and within less than six months I ended up getting a gig.
Sentinel: I understand that you have your own radio segment on the show. What is like to go from being on radio to now having your own segment on the show?
N.D.L.C.: “Well I loved it! You know I have such a great history of working with wonderful people in radio. Ed Lover and Dr. Dre who were the icons of hip-hop. I did morning with them. I also did mornings with Steve Harvey, I was one of their ‘Angels’, Co-host and Producer. But that’s my thing, I love morning and I love mid-day. I don’t know which one I love more. So if I got offered the next job to do mornings I probably go, ‘OK, I get to work with people. I hate the hours, but I like working with the people.
Mid-days it’s more me driving the plane, just by myself. I think that having my own show is so great at the same time is because: 1. I don’t have to share the mic with anybody. 2. I could run my show how I want to. Of course, I have rules and regulations. But I don’t have to feel the pressure of, ‘OK, I need this talk to be like this, and you feed me off of this and this and I say this. I didn’t need that. I also like doing one-on-one interviews. I feel like I am much better at that than doing five voices in the morning and everyone is trying to raise their hand and like, ‘Can I get a question in?’, That I don’t like.
I like having my Naughty segment. I call it, ‘The Naughty News Segment’. It is all entertainment, music and entertainment. I try to stay away from religion and politics. This is a music station that is owned by Stevie Wonder. This isn’t a talk radio station, this isn’t a Christian station. This is a music station. So I try to add a little bit of flavor of what is going on with what/who got married? And who did what? And of course I also try to quote my source of where I got it from. I make sure that it’s pretty legit. You always have to back yourself up, always back yourself up. I learned my lesson once, and I go, ‘from now on I am going to quote this source. Whether I got it off of Yahoo, ABC7 or whatever. But I really enjoy having my own show. I love being the pilot on my plane.
Sentinel: What advice do you have for young people who want to get into radio or want to have there on radio show/program?
N.D.L.C.: “There are two things! Number one: Study radio. If you want to get into Broadcasting and Communications, learn it. Sometimes people get very shocked when they come in. They see me run my own show and they go’ Wow, you do all that?’ and I go, ‘yeah, what do you think I sit here and look cute and just talk on a microphone’. There is so much preparation in a radio show. There really is! So, study, study, study radio. Find out about the F.C.C. rules.
Another thing is get an internship. An internship really helps you. I know sometimes that internship programs get full, but an internship really helps you because you are more hands on and one-on-one. Now you go, ‘Oh, this is what I was studying and now I get it. This is what these buttons stand for. This is what this stands for. You go at a commercial at a certain time. You play 12 songs an hour, etc, etc. So knowing that and being hands on makes it much easier for you.”
Sentinel: I understand that you and KJLH will be at the “Taste of Soul”. What can we expect, and what will you guys be doing at the “Taste of Soul”?
N.D.L.C.: Well I know that we are going to be broadcasting. We may have some performances and they kept it a little ‘hush, hush’. So I think that day of the secret will be out.
Sentinel: So basically you have to go to the “Taste of Soul” to find out?
N.D.L.C.: We have a great collaboration with our other radio station, The Wave, The Sentinel and us. I like that fact that we have a newspaper and we have two radio stations coming together and working as a team for the city.
Sentinel: What are you doing at the J-Spot?'”
N.D.L.C.: OK, this is a new thing. Every Friday is called ‘Naughty Friday’. N-A-U-G-H-T-Y Friday. And we have pole dancing, belly dancing, happy-hour, specials on drinks, and we get there and we just have a really good time. Basically, it’s something were you can have a drink and let the ‘Cougar’ out of you. It’s nothing raunchy, it’s nothing rated x or explicit. It’s very professional and it’s very nice. You get to go out and learn. And its funny we have a dancer from Allure, who’s name is Nicole, and she shows us how to pole dance. But if you saw her body, you would see how fit it is. People look at this pole dancing as, ‘oh, strippers do this’. ‘No, it’s a great way of work out.’ ‘Trust me, I did the workout on Friday and my arms are sore.’
Sentinel: So it’s like some kind of work out exercise?
N.D.L.C.: It is because you have to control your own weight. You know what I mean?
Sentinel: To balance it out?
N.D.L.C.: Right, So that’s what we are doing at the ‘J-Spot.’
Sentinel: Where do you see radio in the next 5 years?
N.D.L.C.: Radio in the next 5 years if it’s still around, it will definitely be automated. There will be no jocks.
Sentinel: Would that kind of per say, ‘kill’ radio?
N.D.L.C.: Yes, I will give you perfect example. K-Day doesn’t have any jocks. But its killing the community. They don’t have any jocks they can’t reach the community. You know they were doing good before. But last I heard that they were trying to get jocks over there. Because they want the community dollar. They want to have the community involved. They want to be the community station. But, no it will be automated.
I pretty much believe ‘knock on wood’ including myself, I maybe out of a job. Because, people might want to hear less talking and more music. I’m only speaking of the music radio stations. Not the talk radio stations. Because people love their KFI’s, and their Sports talk too. So I think so. Also, the fact that it is automated, you can also have your IPod connected to your car. It is very easy, you can even have satellite. So I think that little by little and even see it now. A lot of the radio one stations are selling. Some of the other stations are selling, and some of the Korean channel stations have sold. So if we are the last mom and pop radio station here in L.A. and I can still be on it, I’ll be blessed. I also love working with Stevie Wonder, period. Stevie is such a great guy.
Sentinel: How is it working with Stevie Wonder?
N.D.L.C.: I love it. I’ve known Stevie for a while. I met him years ago when we were on the Steve Harvey Show. He would always hug me and say, ‘I love listening to you’. Or even when I would bump into him, he would say, ‘I love listening to your show. I just love your spirit. You should come work for me’. And I would go, ‘No, Steve, you can’t afford me. You just can’t afford me’. ‘An every year I would bump into him, maybe twice and he would say the same thing.’ Finally, this October 22, I will have been there 3 years.’ Before I was at KDAY and I had bumped into him. He was then like, ‘Nautica, where are you?’ I told him, ‘ I am at KDAY’. Then he goes, ‘You should come work for me.’ Then I said, ‘I don’t know if you can afford me Stevie. I just don’t know’. So when I was at KDAY I needed a change of pace. I wanted something with a bit more security. So I called KJLH and I called Dondre and Stevie and said, ‘Hey, its Nautica De La Cruz. I’m calling to say that this maybe the year, and if you have any full-time positions let me know.’ ‘I got a call back within a hour.’ His name was Andre Russell. I remember he didn’t even say hello. All he said was, “Nautica, I have always wanted to work with you. Stevie always wanted to work with you. When can you start?”
Sentinel: Usually it’s the opposite, where someone tries to get a legendary great work with them. But a legendary great wanted to work with you, wow, that is really awesome!
N.D.L.C.: I’ve been there ever since, and it’s a blessing. Stevie has such a great soul and such a great heart. I love that he’s just a goof-ball just like me. We are both silly. We’re pranksters and we’re funny.
Sentinel: So it’s perfect!
N.D.L.C.: It’s perfect! It’s a perfect chemistry. I can’t complain and I love my boss, Andre Russel. He is wonderful to me. He lets me be who I am and I love that.