Jeff Garcia is well known on the Los Angeles radio scene. As a longtime on-air personality and producer of The Cruz Show at Power 106, he's witnessed the evolution of hip hop from subculture to pop culture. While filming the Power 106 and Timberland video on location at our Robert Wayne Footwear at the Del Amo Fashion Center, we had the opportunity get his insider opinion in the Q&A below. From his first day at Power many shows ago to the future of hip hop Jeff Garcia, aka The Sports Dude, explains it all!
RW: Why do you think radio stations like Power106 survive and thrive today even with the internet and videos and online music services?
JG: Well first of all, we’re just not an algorithm programmed to be similar to what you ‘like’ or give thumbs up to. We are people and we live and breathe it. I think the reason we continue to do well is our ability to adapt and by keeping things personal and being a part of peoples' lives. In the morning we talk about everything from our problems at home with our girls to everything else. We’re very open. You don’t get that when you listen to online music services. You just get whatever they play. For us, we want to have that connection with the people that are listening. We don’t consider them listeners. We just consider them part of the family.You don’t laugh when you listen to a playlist. We want to make you laugh. We want you to have fun. That’s the difference. Twenty, thirty years from now my kids will still listen to the radio because of the personal connection. We're not just talking at people but talking with them.
RW: How do you connect with hip hop on a personal level?
JG: I listen to hip hop music all the time. That’s my first love. We get out of the studio around noon and I have a small amount of time before I pick my kids up from school. When I have that time to myself I sit and listen to music on my record player. Vinyl has a warm sound and that's how I connect with music. I collect albums mostly for my kids and teach them about it. For me it’s something I connect to in my life and that I can pass that down to them. Not just older music but the new stuff too. I buy the clean albums on iTunes for them. They love G-Eazy, Logic, J. Cole so it’s cool to see them embrace it and enjoy it and allow me to explain it to them as well. I connect with it in a bazillion different ways.
RW: What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had working at Power?
JG: That’s so hard to say because it’s years of memories. For me meeting Magic Johnson was a big deal because that was a hero of mine on the court and also for everything that’s he’s been able to do since he was diagnosed. But I think I get the most joy now, and this is daily, from my kids listening to the show. It’s really great for me to make them a part of what I do. On the way to school they listen and we involve them in the show. We ask them questions and put them on the radio and ask them funny things and to see the joy in their faces is rewarding almost every day now. It's great to see that.
RW: Have any Cruz Show guests surprised you with their style?
JG: Swaggy P is the best. I know him pretty well and I love the way he dresses. Going in to talk to him after Lakers games is great. I always get a kick out of seeing what he's wearing. He puts on his Louis Vuitton shoes and a windbreaker and some leopard print. I like how he dresses. He just does his thing and I think that’s really cool.
RW: How have you seen fashion and hip hop influence one another?
JG: Back in the day when it was big gold chains and track suits, the influence was immediate. As soon as music videos came out, people wanted to dress exactly like the musicians in those videos. Now with the internet, you see people dressed like RiffRaff because of his videos. Fashion and music just go hand-in-hand. Hip hop is now pop culture. Back in the day it was rock-n-roll. People saw The Beatles and they cut their hair like them. It’s also sometimes funny to see people try to pull off the looks that other people are pulling off and I’m like no c’mon bro, slow down. Just cause Little Wayne wears UGGs doesn’t mean you should wear UGGs too. *laughing*
RW: How do you think hip hop has changed in the last ten years?
JG: It’s changed a lot, with the exception of a few people. Although I think the tide is turning now, for a while it more style than substance. There are people who have gone the route of substance. I don't want to leave anyone out but Logic and J. Cole are terrific examples. I’m enjoying that turn just a little bit. Because hip hop is popular music, I think there are people just are just trying to make pop hip hop songs that blow up. I can’t blame them. It’s still a good thing to see hip hop be as big as it is now.
RW: What trends do you foresee coming up for hip hop music and hip hop fashion?
JG: I see more substance coming back to hip hop. As far as styles and trends go, the old school is in - big chains, high-top fades. I like the fact that classic stuff is coming back. Even the louder colors are coming back. For a while we were in a trap with white tees and Dickies and it’s nice to see people wearing loud stuff and pick up a pair of Lebrons or Kobes and they’re bright green with pink trim or whatever. It’s fun that you can wear that and be really casual with it. I like that everyone is so expressive. I hope it continues.
RW: Can you tell us about your first day working at Power 106?
JG: Oh man it was so bad. Seriously thought I was going to s*** myself. I was working at a hip hop station in Las Vegas and all of a sudden it changed format. So I was stuck working at a job that I didn’t want. Someone called me from Power and asked if I wanted to come to LA. Mind you, I’m from LA and always listened to Power 106. I flew out and got to the station about an hour early. I sat there with the guy that was on-air before me and hung out. He didn’t really show me much, we just talked about music and radio and then he goes, "Alright man, I’m done. See you later, have a good shift!" and I’m looking around like what do I do? No one taught me how to use anything, commercials, where the CDs were. I just had to do the best I could and luckily after the shift was over, the assistant to the boss told me I did really well. They called me back and that's where it all started. It was probably the most nerve-wracking four hours of my life. All that tension and pressure with no help was crazy. But I’m extremely thankful to be home in LA for such a long time.
Has Jeff Garcia piqued your interest? Follow him on Instagram @thesportsdude and listen for him weekdays from 5am to 10am on The Cruz Show on Power 106 for more. Let us know what you think of the 'Suit Up with Timberland' video with a comment below!