Nik Bernitz isn’t your average D.J. He is a guy who loves music, all kinds of music, lives and broadcasts from Milan, Italy but speaks with a very clear British accent. How did this happen, one would ask?
I spoke to him about that and about the fact that his show was syndicated by 51 stations as well his love of country music and more and here is what he had to say:
Q What kind of music are you playing on your station. I hear it is a mix?
A Yes, that is exactly right. I try to bring in old time country let’s say from back in the 50’s, 60’s 70′ and 80’s to today. What I have noticed as far as radio shows go is that they either play the new country or the old. I wanted to play it all. I try to cater to the audiences that want to hear it all.
Q How long have you been doing this with the Whiskey & Cigarettes Radio Show?
A Whiskey & Cigarettes? I have been doing that for 5 years now. I started it on my own about 5 years ago I’d say and it’s been about a year now that I have had MTS manage it.
Q I was going to say that’s ironic because MTS Management Group started about 5 years ago.
A I know. I supposed our paths were destined to cross and he has been managing me for a year and it is just insane what he has done for the show. I never expected it to go as well as it has been going. It has skyrocketed. To be honest, when I started this, it was more for a lark really or a hobby for my love of country music. I was hosting a lot on my Metal Show but ever since Michael has come on board it has skyrocketed. It keeps growing and growing so I think I have finally found my place. I keep enjoying country music more and more because of it.
Q I will tell you that there is a difference between fans. Country fans are the best fans in the world. Country fans are so invested.
Q I am from New York. I grew up in New York and I am also a songwriter and I write country music. I grew up around a lot of rock and well, what we call Classic Rock now was just rock then. I was listening to Kenny Rogers and getting made fun of by my peers when I was a teenager. I always belonged in country music. It just has always been but I will tell you that I have been involved and seen all kinds of fans. Not that rock fans don’t love their rocks bands because they do but a country fan will follow an artist into the desert with no water.
A This is very true and country music artists are very dedicated to their fans. When I did mention to some of my friends that I had been listening to country music, people were like, “you’re listening to country.” I was like, yes! It seemed to be odd to those people if you come from other music genres and you branch out into other music, it can cause people to give you a bit of a wide birth. I have always been of the assumption that good music is good music regardless of the genre and that is what I have always tried to do.
Q Yes, that will happen. Like I said, people used to make fun of me because of what I listened too. I didn’t consider it country music. I just considered it good music but yes, I was stigmatized because growing up in NY, it just wasn’t done. The difference between a country artist and any other artist and how they are with their fans is noticeable to say the least. I have to mention your accent. How does a man who is Italian and living in Milan, Italy have such a British accent?
A I really don’t know who that happened. I was raised by my Mum who taught me English and Italian simultaneously and this is what came out.
Q That is so funny. If I didn’t know better I would think I was talking to someone in England. Getting back to country music artists, I want to mention that country music artists are the only artists that have a Festival every year to get together with fans and say thank you.
A I know exactly, and that shows how dedicated they are to their fans to have this gathering where you know you can go and hang out with your heroes. I was simply blown away when I saw that. When I first heard about the CMA Fest, I was just starting to listen to country music and I was reading everything that I could find. The CMA Festival came to my attention and I was just amazed. I though this is wonderful that they have this one place everybody can just meet up. There was no longer the barrier between artist and fan. They were able to hang out and meet up and come together.
Q So I hear you show is syndicated and aired on like 51 stations?
A That’s right and it is a real honor that so many people are enjoying the show and hopefully liking what I am doing.
We talked much more about the music business, off the record, and then we said our goodbyes. Nik truly is one of a kind and everyone should tune into his radio station. Check out the Italian with the British accent at the Whiskey & Cigarettes Show