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Nic and Big J

Morning drive, hitting all the green lights and being eternally tired


Jeremy and Jeremi are about to celebrate their fifth anniversary on Boise's airwaves. But they are better known as Nic and Big J, hosts of The Morning After on KQXR 100.3 FM, The X.

Jeremy Nicolato (Nic) is a 34-year-old single father of two, while his cohort, Jeremi Smith (Big J), is newly married and will turn 36 Sunday, Aug. 26--the same day the pair will celebrate five years of being one of the Treasure Valley's most popular morning-drive duos.

Outside of your personal lives, is five years one of your longer relationships?

Nic: It is for me, but you've been here forever.

Big J: For a morning show partner, yeah, it's the longest for me.

Five years in today's radio market is a pretty long time.

Nic: In this day and age, yeah. Unless you've been around forever, you're either stepping up or moving on. It's a pretty nice milestone.

Have you ever called yourself anything other than Nic on-air?

Nic: My name is Jeremy Nicolato and Big J's name is Jeremi. Plus, when I came here, we had two other Jeremys on-air. It was really weird. This is the first time I ever had to change my name.

Big J: I've been Big J all the time I've been here, 13 years.

Big J, this is the only market you've ever worked in. That's almost unheard of.

Big J: I started working as a stunt guy with the old morning show guys, Bill and Doug, years ago. They asked me to come do sports. It just took off.

Big J is the exception, but radio is a fairly nomadic experience.

Nic: I think I've been at eight stations.

How many people told you not to do this for a living?

Nic: Two: my parents. But they're pretty happy seeing where I am now.

Do you look at Big J as a character?

Big J: Not really. It's me being me. My biggest pet peeve is when friends introduce me as a Big J. I'd rather be introduced as Jeremi.

What's the craziest thing you've done for The X?

Big J: Going to the mall, looking for my first kiss. I think I got herpes from that.

Nic: Really?

Big J: I might have had it before.

Are you married now?

Big J: I got married two months ago. I was ready to settle down.

Nic: I have a girlfriend.

Is it a challenge to date in your line of work?

Nic: It was different for J. He used to go out with a lot of ladies back in the day. I drew the line early in my career after a big, big mess. I just didn't want to date a listener.

But that's a common occurrence in the industry.

Nic: It usually leads to awful things because if you break up, they hate you and hate the station. It's really, really awkward.

How much preparation goes into the show?

Nic: We pride ourselves in how much improvisation we do. You want to make sure that the funny stuff is all on-air.

Big J: But here's the scary thing: Before our very first show, we had only about three hours to meet over a beer.

Nic: It was like a blind date. The next day, we were live on the air. Believe me, I've been part of morning shows where people hated each other off the air. It's awful.

Big J: You don't hate me? That's awesome.

How about mornings when you just don't want to drag your butt out of bed?

Big J: Other than being really, really sick, I hate being away from work.

Nic: I have a son who just turned 2, another who is 5, and there were days last year when I had an hour and a half of sleep. I would be dead to the world but, you know, what we do totally beats working for a living. Sure, we have rough days--like when we're talking to some a-hole, but we have the coolest jobs in the world.

So who was an a-hole?

Big J: We wanted to fist fight Steve Guttenberg. He's a dick.

Nic: We started asking him about the Police Academy movies, and he said, "Guys, that was 20 years ago. Do some research."

But I don't think he's been doing much in the last 20 years.

Nic: Exactly.

Big J: Plus, he definitely didn't want to talk about Dancing With the Stars. And his press release talked all about how he was the star of the Police Academy movies and Dancing With the Stars.

Nic: We quickly ended the interview and never aired it. But we have a running joke that Steve Guttenberg is a jerk.

If you were the entertainment police and had the authority to yank any entertainer away from show business, who would that be?

Big J: Let's start with a band: Coheed and Cambria.

Nic: Our hatred for them bonded the two of us pretty early on.

Big J: Plus, Snooki should definitely go away.

Nic: That's a good choice. We really hate reality show stars.

What are your latest Arbitron ratings like?

Nic: They just came out. For May through July of this year, The X was the No. 2 station for men, ages 25-54. We're the No. 3 morning show in that same demo.

Who is No. 1?

Nic: The Eagle.

Big J: But we trade the No. 1 slot off-and-on with them a lot.

Do you like or loathe the competition?

Nic: Bob and Tom [The Eagle morning show hosts] broadcast out of Indianapolis, so it's not as if we could see them at the grocery store.

Big J: It's a good thing. Otherwise, I would heckle and fake-laugh at them.

What music should we be paying attention to?

Nic: My favorite band of 2012 is Dead Sara. We brought them in for a free show in June and they blew us away. We begged them to come back for our anniversary show, Thursday, Aug. 23, at the Knitting Factory. We'll have four bands: Saving Abel, Dead Sara, Aranda and Midline.

Have you timed it that you can roll out of bed and get to the station pretty quick?

Big J: I live in Middleton. If I can hit what I call "the gauntlet," getting all green lights between my home and the station, I can get here in 26 minutes.

Nic: The alarm goes off at 4:15 a.m. for me. I've got it down to about 15 minutes.

Are you eternally tired?

Nic: Pretty much. But I sleep in on weekends, which is glorious.

Big J: I get far more sleep than he does. I feel guilty.

Do you want to do this until you drop?

Nic: I found a job that I love and a place that respects what I do. I'm here as long as they'll have me.

Big J: Do you need some Chapstick for your lips after kissing so much ass?

Big J: So we have a question for you. When will this interview be printed?

BW: Oh, we're not going to print it. We're going to send it to Steve Guttenberg.