My Background:

I am a Cuban American gal that was born in Miami and then just floated around. I have lived everywhere from Miami, Jacksonville, New York, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and finally, Los Angeles. When I was little, I was raised with music bellowing from every corner of my life. I remember discovering the Beatles on car rides to the beach with my family, I remember tinkering with the massive standing record player in my grandmother’s living room, I remember my mom “making the car dance” by pumping on the brakes while her favorite songs blared from the speakers. As far as my childhood is concerned, I mostly remember the music. My older cousin schooled me on everything from Pink Floyd to Poison. When my parents divorced, I was four and I spent a lot of their fights locked in my room with the radio on. I sat there with a blank tape in the deck, waiting for my songs to play so I could record them. I had it down to an art. Music saved me, raised me, and became “the thing”, the thing that would define my entire life. It lead the way in more ways than one. There was a DJ on my local rock station, 94.9 Zeta, her name was Kimba, I declared at the age of 11 that I would stand in her shoes one day…and I did.

My Start in Radio:

My journey in radio started in Jacksonville where I was going to college. I had just experienced my first broken heart and my roommates at the time had to pry me from my dorm room where I was drowning in self-pity and ‘Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College’. I wore out that cd just wallowing in the then pathetic state of my shattered life. Finally, my friends dragged me to a club night and the local station, Planet Radio 93.3 was there. I thought to myself, “What would make me happy?” The answer was simple: music. So, I jumped on stage and asked who I could call to get an internship at the radio station and the rest is history. I started in promotions and then convinced Rick Schmidt, the PD at the time, to put me on overnights. After Jacksonville, I ended up in Miami at the station I grew up on. The new PD hated me. He fired me. Three days later I got a call from Kevin Weatherly, PD at KROQ. A mutual friend of ours snuck an air check of mine to him with my phone number, he called, he flew me out, he auditioned me on 4th of July weekend, and then he hired me before I hopped on a flight back to my former life. I moved to Los Angeles and started working overnights on KROQ, September 1st, 2003. I did that for a few months, moved to nights, and finally, middays. Here I am.

Why Radio? And Pursuing My Passion:

I got into radio to live out my life at concerts and to meet Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that Pearl Jam is my guiding light and that Eddie Vedder’s voice is the actual lighthouse. It might sound silly to some, but that band has been my home, my constant, and my whole heart for my entire life. I even named my three-year-old after Eddie. Her name is Evie. I borrowed his initials. Other than that, my natural habitat is wherever the music is playing. When I am at a show, I am in my element and in order to be happy, I have to be in my element. I gave myself no choice in my mind.

I was put on earth to be Penny Lane, and that is what I proudly exude and that is how I go about my business. Anytime you live directly from your heart, things get pretty epic. If you love something hard enough, especially music, it will love you back.

The Power of Music:

Music in general inspires every second of my life. I need it like oxygen. Because of how much it affects me, it is the difference between a good mood and a bad mood. I have always been unnerved by silence and I have also always been unnerved by awkward conversations, and just weird interactions with other humans that might not be able to totally present themselves authentically, so I use music to create a landscape of understanding for me and it helps me ease into situations firmly planted in a mood that is best representative of my character. I know that all sounds nuts and it might not make sense to anyone but me, but basically I need music to live. Sometimes, I park my car and put on headphones just to walk 10 ft. Working at KROQ, I get to live out my dreams on a daily basis. I get to be a professional and a fan and although it has taken me years to find the perfect balance, I am happy to report that I have found it. I have formed relationships with artists and bands that I have been listening to forever. It’s pretty damn cool.

Favorite Interviews: 

There are a lot of interviews that I have had the honor to host that I love. Some of my favorites include: James Hetfield of Metallica, Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, Incubus always, Mumford and Sons, Beck, Bastille…there are a lot that have intimidated the crap out of me, but I found my natural approach to be effective and I can definitely hold my own.

Favorite Radio Moments:

I also have so many favorite radio moments, picking one is truly impossible. Off the top of my head, it is probably the day that I first drove into the KROQ parking lot as an actual employee. I will never forget that. “Hey Ya” by Outkast was playing on the radio and I pulled into the parking lot wide eyed and beaming, my heart was racing, and I had no clue what to expect. Little did I know then that everything I love the most in life right now was already written in the stars for me thanks to this job. However, introducing bands I love on stage in front of sold out crowds inside massive arenas is pretty f**king great too.

Biggest Challenges:

My biggest challenge has always been me. When I first started at KROQ I had zero discipline and zero respect for professionalism. I loved a good party and work often times was a casualty of my wild nature. After I got my shit together, I would say my biggest challenge is always still me. You have to overcome a lot of self-doubt and second guessing and you also have to grow as a person and nurture self-awareness in order to be the best you can be. It is hard to face your faults sometimes and also being constantly criticized for things you say is harsh on the ego. You have to be able to become a fully realized human being that finds a way to be authentic and meaningful. The biggest obstacle is always me.

Advice to Those Looking to Start in Radio:

My advice to anyone wanting to start a career in radio is to start it now. Radio is changing and it is changing fast. I would also recommend being as genuine as possible. Give people a reason to care. This job is tricky, but it is a privilege to do it.

Top 10 Favorite Artists:

Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, Bastille, Rolling Stones, The Lumineers, Incubus, LCD Soundsystem.

~Nicole Alvarez

Catch Nicole Alvarez Mon-Fri: 10AM-3PM on KROQ. 

In collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra
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