Photographs of The Beatles, Neil Diamond and The Beach Boys cover the New York studio of superstar radio disc jockey Cousin Brucie. The songs he plays on his Sirius XM Radio “Saturday Night Party” broadcast are all upbeat songs from the sixties, and his fans, or “cousins” as he addresses them, call in to talk about memories tied to the songs they request to hear.
Based on the amusing conversations Cousin Brucie and his producer, Brian DeNicola, who graduated from Rutgers with a degree in journalism and media studies, have about each song, listeners would be surprised to learn that DeNicola was born more than two decades later than the memories they share.
In a way, the 27-year-old DeNicola has always been mature for his age. His father was a radio engineer in New York and would bring DeNicola to the studio where he would help his dad cut clips. At age 16, before he had his driver’s license, his mother would drive him to his first job at a radio station in Salem. Two years later, DeNicola scored an internship with Total Request Live, MTV’s music countdown show.
“My job was to hand color-coded microphones to all the talent,” DeNicola said of his first internship. “I got to hand one to Tom Hanks.”
One of the duties that comes with DeNicola’s job as a producer at Sirius XM is to work with the talent that comes into the studio. Before shows, he edits and records content for air. Often, this is the day of or even hours before a show. During shows, he loads music into the system, connects callers, and often joins in discussions with Cousin Brucie, whose real name is Bruce Morrow.
DeNicola also works on the Sinatra channel and deals directly with Nancy Sinatra and other family members to decide what music plays on Siriusly Sinatra. He produces as well as for the Sirius channel 70s on 7 and Elvis Radio.“If anything goes wrong, it’s all Brian’s fault,” Cousin Brucie joked. While Brian admits that he has a lot of responsibility, he enjoys the “Saturday Night Party,” joking with enthusiastic callers and nodding along to the songs they request, even as his hands are constantly on the controls.
DeNicola is used to the responsibility. He began his current job at Sirius in 2006, two years before he graduated from Rutgers, and knew how to navigate the world of broadcasting well before coming to school. He did find graduating from Rutgers important, however, and fondly remembers Professor Steve Miller as having an impact as well as journalism classes that allowed him to write instead of record.
“I like all types of music,” DeNicola said as he walked past his desk, stacked high with CDs. But where the desks surrounding his have music posters tacked to their walls, DeNicola has pictures of his wife and 18-month-old daughter.
Though he’s already been extremely successful at Sirius XM, he does still have goals within the company. Behind his desk are bigger, private offices with glass doors decorated with posters belonging to the producers of Sirius’ most popular shows, such as country, metal, and indie rock. “That guy even has a Jack Daniels dispenser on his desk,” DeNicola pointed out as he walked past the metal producer’s office. “Hopefully I’ll be in one of those some day soon.”
When he first started at Sirius, DeNicola recalled he used to be starstruck but is a lot less so these days. “I saw the guys from One Direction in the bathroom the other day,” he said. “There’s so many famous people walking in these hallways on any given day, but sometimes I still go up and say hi.”
This article originally appeared in Alum-Knights, Summer 2013 edition, Rutgers School of Communication and Information.