Igniting the airwaves

Mat Diablo

Photo By David Robert

Music director and assistant program director on KRZQ, Mat Diablo is perhaps best known as the host of the top 18-34 afternoon drive-time show, Road Riot. He’s 24, but don’t let his youth confuse you; he’s been in the business since he was 16. With Jeremy, the station’s program director, the pair program the station (essentially everything you hear on the air) and work with the record executives who make the radio world go around.

Who gets it done?

If we’re talking about local figures, there are two people who are in the Hall of Fame for getting it done: Mayor Bob Cashell and Tad Dunbar. Those two get it done more so than anyone.

I listen to Road Riot on the way home, but I’m outside of your target age bracket.

Our whole philosophy, when we came back in to take over KRZQ, was to drop the dick jokes and go for a more intelligent presentation. Alternative or rock radio has not cared traditionally much about women or people over 34, but that was not the approach we took. Just because those are not your primary demographic doesn’t mean you have to do everything in your power to alienate those people. We hope to be a welcoming place for all ages, regardless of gender.

What was the deal with MTV?

An MTV producer is married to a record executive who I am in contact with on a regular basis. They identified Jeremy and me as kind of an interesting situation in that we were two young guys running a radio station. They came out and shot a pilot, which was essentially us hosting a video show on MTV2 and, in between, it was the story of two kids in Reno running a radio station. All they ever did was shoot a pilot, and I don’t anticipate anything ever coming of it.

Ever had an odd request of you made on the request line?

I don’t know if I have a story like that, but I had an interesting stalker in Vegas who ended up in my house one day. It was this girl who had apparently been following me home. I lived fairly close to the station, and I came home from work one night. She was in my room. My roommates just assumed she was a friend of mine. She just walked in the house and said she was waiting for me. She was sitting on my bed, and I had to ask her politely to leave.

Would you explain the concept of butt rock?

Butt rock is everything from Mötley Crüe to Iron Maiden to Judas Priest. It’s primarily the glam era, the Hollywood era. It should be put to rest for a year or two. It offends me greatly. It’s the worst form of music ever made, worse than disco.

As assistant program director, does payola exist anymore?

The record industry is as dirty as it’s ever been. I’ve never really been in a position like that, but the record executives that you are in contact with every week, they gauge what you will and will not do pretty quickly. I think it’s just a case of whether the programmer is willing to have low standards and a low set of ethics. In the industry, people are aware that KRZQ is a station that’s primary concerns are what’s good for Reno and programming really good independent radio, and, as a result, it’s never been an issue here.