One of the defining traits of successful people is they always want to challenge themselves. As soon as a job gets too comfortable or too easy, they feel the need for the next hurdle to keep themselves involved.
Why do you think so many great artists change their sound, start side projects or go solo? Just look at Dave Grohl, a contender for the biggest rock star on planet earth. All he has done this year is write a book, do a documentary, a disco album. Grohl, like anyone who is successful in their field, is looking for the next rush.
That’s the case for L.A.-based Ted Stryker, a radio and TV personality who was in position to rule LA. radio. After years with the “World Famous” KROQ, a station that actually did live up to its lofty moniker as the most influential alternative station in radio for decades, Stryker was handed the morning show slot with partner Kevin Klein, last year.
But after several changes with the station and its parent company, Audacy he was simply ready for a change. So this week, October 5, he launched a new podcast, Tuna On Toast.
The world has a lot of podcasts, I mean, a lot, but as a respected industry veteran with a deserved reputation one of the nicest guys in media, Stryker is showing already he is going to be very competitive in the crowded music podcast field.
His first three guests — Tom Morello, Tom DeLonge and Mike Shinoda. I spoke with Stryker about the new show, why he made the move from terrestrial radio to podcasts and his dream guests.
Steve Baltin: Sometimes the toughest interviews are the most rewarding, because they let you prove yourself. What was that one for you?
Ted Stryker: I hope I’ve earned their respect because I know my stuff, but at the top of my list is Jack White. He hasn’t been on the podcast, but in my career it’s Jack. I feel like if you don’t know what you’re doing he’s gonna let you know with his body language and maybe his answers. And the few times I’ve been lucky enough to interview him, and two of those times in front of a really large audience, and live on camera at the same time, I felt so happy afterwards it went well. And I feel like he thought, “Yeah, this guy’s alright, right here.”
Baltin: Taking it to this new project for you, how has it felt for you personally?
Stryker: It is totally exhilarating. Just getting it of the ground I already feel like I’ve accomplished something bigger than I’ve accomplished in a very, very long time. I’m a totally independent artist/host right now. There is no company behind me. I’m doing the booking, the editing, I have someone on here helping me with the three-camera setup and making sure the lights are good and making sure everything is recording properly, I’m in charge of the social media, I am in charge of everything. Every single thing I’m doing. And then having the artists that I reach out to say, “Yeah, of course, we’d love to come on,” it gives me chills. And I’ve teared up a couple of times just with gratitude that so many folks, both that are in bands and behind the scenes people, whether they work in management, radio or they produce TV shows, they’ve reached out and asked very selflessly, “How can I help?”
Baltin: Back to the obvious, but why a podcast?
Stryker: A podcast is something I can start right away, I knew I could do it on my own and I had a vision of how I wanted it to look and feel. And the way that I consume audio, and many people I know consume audio, is you hunker down and you want to go on this ride with the podcast you’re listening to. And that’s what I want to bring to people. I’m a big fan of podcasting. I’m a fan of listening to interviews that aren’t just five minutes and rushed like you hear on the radio.
Baltin: How many shows have you recorded to this point?
Stryker: I have done three so far, and I have one tomorrow and three next week. So I’ve done Tom DeLonge, which I never announced he was going to be on the show and then I let it out. “Tom DeLonge was at my house yesterday, holy s**t, eating my Snickers and drinking my sugar-free Red Bulls and sitting right next to me in my bedroom. This is unbelievable.” So Tom DeLonge, Tom Morello, on Zoom, and Mike Shinoda came to the house as well.
Baltin: What have been some of your biggest takeaways from the interviews you have done so far?
Stryker: Tom DeLonge has so many projects going on and he’s so good, I almost think he is under-appreciated with what he does. I’m like, “Well, if Tom DeLonge can write a movie, direct a movie, be responsible for the government having some documents released when it comes to UFOs, start a world tour, I can certainly be responsible for an entire podcast.” First guest was Tom Morello and I learned he was a juggler, worked at the Renaissance Fair for a while (laughs). So we talked about the Renaissance Fair and how he had no life skills to get a job in L.A. when he moved here. He was just addicted to the guitar. So that’s something I learned.
Baltin: How has doing the show and taking on these new skills reinvigorated you?
Stryker: I have always loved sound editing, that is just fun me to do. I definitely have help with the video. But the audio, I love doing it. I feel like I’ve accomplished more in the last four weeks than I did previous. And I’m more excited about the job again. I lost my excitement for broadcasting the last year and a half and I’ve got it back. I’ve got my mojo back. I feel it.
Baltin: What have been your favorite things thus far about doing the podcast?
Stryker: I can play to my strengths, I can allow artists to shine. I love seeing bands and artists succeed. I love watching a band, who played the Troubadour to a hundred people, then a year and a half later they’re playing the Forum. I love to be a super duper small part in support and be this place, Tuna On Toast, where artists can feel comfortable. It’s a safe space, positive place where they can have fun.
Baltin: What are your other current goals after being on KROQ so long?
Stryker: I want to be on television, I would like to get back into some acting, I want to do voiceover work. I’ve done video games in the past. I am at a place where I feel like I’ve got a black canvas again, like I had many, many years ago. I want to fill it up and I’ve started with this podcast, which I’m so excited for. This is not gonna take a backseat to anything that comes along unless it’s some offer that is just crazy, crazy, crazy. But I would like to be doing three or four things at once. And I’m still doing my syndicated show.
Baltin: Obvious question, but who is on the wish list for the show?
Stryker: Tom Morello was on my list, just so you know. Someone to sit in this chair, right there, I would love Dave Grohl to come over. I’ve chatted with him in the past, but never like a full sit down. I think the guy is the best. He is right at the top of my list.