Strip Las Vegas visits with AREA 108

By Gordon Bachmura
Photos by Richard Anderson
Strip Las Vegas Magazine – May 2007

AREA 108 is a relative newcomer on the Las Vegas radio dial. Their mainstream radio competitors have many previous years of tenure in the Las Vegas valley. Nonetheless, in a very short period of time, they have driven a spike into the bedrock of Las Vegas radio, cracking the foundation and cementing a place in its landscape. By delivering alternative rock to the masses in a way that gives listeners a raw mix of great music, both vintage and modern, AREA 108 is suited for both the occasional listener and rock purists. Tune in on any day and you can listen to Sex Pistols, Beastie Boys, and the White Stripes. Gonzo Greg and Nicole welcome to Strip Las Vegas to visit with them. They come at you every weekday morning via the airwaves. Gonzo Greg is no newcomer to the world of broadcasting, bringing 15-plus years experience to Area 108. Every morning he brings his humor and love of music to the listeners of Las Vegas. Nicole is no stranger to the Las Vegas area either. She once performed at the Stratosphere as both a Madonna impersonator, and a Baby Spice of the Spice Girls. Together they bring a fun-filled and edgy show to the morning airwaves.

The Area 108 format is unlike anything currently in Las Vegas, and it has carved a niche with their blend of radio rebellion, music, talent, and purism. Clearly they are the leader in alternative rock in Las vegas, and it looks like they have a very bright future.

SLV: What do you like about Area 108 … what’s unique for you?

Gonzo: Well, when they said it was an alternative rock station, it really was. A lot of radio stations these days are calling themselves alternative and it’s kind of really angry, mad at your dad type of rock music.

SLV: Yeah, there seems to be a lot of that going around!

Nicole: It’s pretty mainstream for being alternative.

SLV: I wonder why all these bands are so upset. Rock is supposed to be fun!

Gonzo: Right! I got into radio when it was happening. I was doing it then, even as stupid as it seems now, when Limp Bizkit came out there was a reason that it happened. And as is typical in the music industry, it just becomes, “Oh that was successful,” so everybody tries to do that. Then we get too much of that and everybody kind of rebels and goes on to the next thing. So for me, it was really cool to see a station like this … that is able to play a lot of alternative music that is current, that sounds really good up against alternative music that I really loved when I was much younger. You know, like when New Wave was around, or The Clash had just come out … that period of time in the late 70s and early ’80s, where people had gotten tired of Blue Oyster Cult, and all that. they had heard Led Zeppelin enough and this other thing started to happen. So it was great to see that cycle come back around again where you could have a band like Panic! At the Disco play against Siouxsie and the Banshees, and it worked. So I was really excited when the station was happening, and it’s one of the reasons I really wanted to come out here and work.

SLV: The mix of music here is really unique. Today I heard Beastie Boys followed by The Strokes. Compared to FM back in the old days when it broke out in the 70s, when the DJs played what they loved, this seems more pure than radio at large.

Gonzo: Yeah, we have the advantage of not being owned by a big, giant corporation, so we’re allowed a little more leeway to create a product that is kind of similar to that. You know? It’s based on people who believe in what they’re doing, have a passion for it, and they want to share it with you.

SLV: Everyone in radio has a crazy story … what memorable things have happened here for you?

Nicole: Being in Las Vegas makes you love your short-term memory.

Gonzo: One of the most recent was just before the holidays. We did the Shiny Toy Guns concert at the House of Blues. We announced that it was going to be our holiday show, “Shiny Toy Guns”. As the show is coming up, we were checking on how ticket sales were going, and we had sold a few tickets. Then it ended up selling out that night.

SLV: Wow!

Gonzo: Yeah, everyone decided to show up that night. Yeah, it was crazy. but what I kind of remember is that after the show we did the Foundation Room. 

Nicole: I kind of remember it ‘cause I was sicker than a dog.

Gonzo: We kind of talked our way into the Foundation Room, ‘cause we knew somebody who was in there. ‘Cause you have to have a membership and all that. We were up there for a while having a few cocktails, and I got a call on my cell phone that I had to go downstairs to try to get somebody else in. So I’m wandering around the Foundation Room, and couldn’t find my way out.

SLV: That’s hilarious!

Gonzo: You’ve been up there, right?

SLV: Yeah!

Gonzo: So every time I’d go exactly where I thought the elevator was, I’d wind up in another dining room and go … “Uhhhh!” So I had to have someone help me find the way out.

SLV: Then you have to try and look cool!

Gonzo: Oh yeah! You’re like: “Hey, how you doing?”

Nicole: The same thing happens when you try and go to the bathroom. Every time you go looking for the bathroom you wind up popping into another private party. You’re like, “Hiiii!”

Gonzo: “Hey, how’s it going? Figured I’d just stop in and say “Hi! Where the fuck is the elevator?”

SLV: The place is a labyrinth. There is like two light bulbs in the whole place.

Gonzo: We get to meet a lot of people outside of just bands and stuff like that who hang out. I think it was our second or third week here, Bow Wow Wow was in town. They were doing the VH1 Bands on the Run thing. One of the things that they had to do was visit a radio station. and I’m like: “Holy crap! That’s Annabella Lewin. You’re so great!” Then the girls from Strip Las Vegas come in … that’s always an interesting experience. ‘Cause it’s like: “I was looking at the magazine and you have a beautiful vagina and it’s really a pleasure to meet you! [laughter] It’s such an odd experience doing that, but when you meet the girls they’re always very real and down to earth. You know, it’s kind of odd, ‘cause as soon as you’re in a glossy magazine like that, there’s this kind of mystique … you’re enshrined in the magazine. Then you talk to them and they’re like: “It’s what I do.”

Nicole: It’s an odd situation for me to be in, as a female, ‘cause Gonzo is going to talk to them about having sex on camera and taking close-up shots of their nether regions. I’m sitting there talking to them about the lights, and asking Melissa Jacobs about how long it takes to straighten her hair … I’m asking them girly things. ‘Cause there are female listeners out there that want to know these things. Even though there are guys out there saying shut up, Nicole, and have them fake an orgasm. I’m like okay, fine, there’s nothing wrong with that.

SLV: So you’re there to provide balance to the show. You’re laying down the checks and balances, you’re like the judicial branch.

Nicole: Yeah, exactly.

SLV: What do you do to prepare for the show every day, other than drink a pot of coffee?

Gonzo: A pot of coffee, maybe with rum in it!

Nicole: And certain prescribed medications …

SLV: It’s radio, right?

Nicole: Legitimately prescribed, I might add.

Gonzo: I’m totally not a morning person, and it’s like some sort of evil, twisted payback from whoever runs this thing that I get up and do my job.

SLV: And you’re in Vegas, no less!

Gonzo: Yeah, we’re getting up when everyone else is going to bed.

SLV: They ought to start the morning shows in Vegas at 9:00 p.m.

Gonzo: Yeah, exactly!

Nicole: That’s a great idea.

Gonzo: If there was a way to take care of your life and do your laundry, pick up the dry cleaning, and then stay up and do the morning show, I’d do it. But it doesn’t work out ‘cause you have other things you have to do after the show.

SLV: What artists have visited with you recently?

Gonzo: We did the big deal at the Palms last summer with Dave Navarro and the whole Panic Channel thing was cool. I think one of the fun things about our station is that a lot of the bands that we play aren’t massive superstars, they have people who are really passionate about their music, you know, like Shiny Toy Guns is one. Bands like Panic! At The disco .., we have a pretty good relationship with Brandon and the Killers. so that’s really cool.

Nicole: It’s hard to get them to wake up early. One of the things we did recently was Punk Rock bowling.

Gonzo: That was awesome.

Nicole: That was mind blowing.

Gonzo: It was really fun and they had it over at Sam’s Town. They have that huge bowling alley there. You walk around the casino and there’s a lot of old people, and you look up, and there’s some guy with a huge, liberty-spiked mohawk right next to him. And it’s like: “How cool is that?”

SLV: That’s really cool. I wouldn’t have ever thought of punk rock and bowling.

Nicole: It’s insane, and they take it seriously.

Gonzo: It’s crazy. One of the major punk rock label’s bowling teams, Epitaph Records, is really hardcore. And they had bands there. Pete from the Addicts was in the lane next to me. Bowling is like the great equalizer. It’s like: “Throw the ball!”

SLV: Tell me about your fans.

Nicole: Well, if they look like Betty Page … they like Gonzo.

Gonzo: Yeah, and I like them.

SLV: The truth comes out.

Gonzo: It’s really fun to get out and meet these people. When we do events, parties, a concert or whatever … We just hang out with people. At the last event, we met a district court judge.

Nicole: Yeah, that was a stunner.

Gonzo: We met a life coach, a lawyer …

Nicole: … and don’t forget the custom closet maker.

Gonzo: … and a guy who makes custom closets, all at one event. It’s all walks of life, and it’s really fun. And the defining thing that links them all together is that they all have an appreciation for the music we play or the show that we’re doing.

Nicole: You were having a conversation with the lawyer about the band X.

Gonzo: Yeah!

Nicole: I swear to god … it was surreal.

Gonzo: The music we play, and the kind that we build our show on… it’s alternative music. It’s X and Lone Justice. That’s really fun. And it’s cool to turn the young kids on to something from 1982. It’s people from all walks of life and all ages. It’s definitely a lot of fun.

SLV: Thanks for spending time with us today.

Gonzo: No problem, anytime.

Nicole: You’re welcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *