By January 2, 2017 Read More →

InterView – Reggie Rucker

What does the future hold? Where will we go?

Reggie Rucker
By Chris Murphy

There are many of us that think about this all of the time. Many times we view if through the lens of history and it may magnify or shrink our ideas. Sometimes we have to have a fresh view and mix things up a lot.

When my phone rings, the name “B.V. Bridges” comes up, and on the other end of the call is Reggie Rucker. Reggie is the innovative founder of Engaged by Reggie Rucker, a social media and PR company. I first met Reggie when we was a hip-hop artist and was nominated for a MAMA (Modesto Area Music Association) Award. He even had a cool video and owned it. Years later, Reggie is still cool and innovative and he is shaking things up in a different way, looking at Modesto with a fresh perspective and taking us in new directions. He was celebrated by the Modesto Bee’s 20 under 40 campaign.

After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Reggie eventually found his professional footing in 2008 with Republic Marketing creating brand messages and effective campaigns. He is known as the “social media guy” and that title is well deserved. I have had the pleasure of working with him on a variety of fun projects. He is changing the game, creating new events, blazing trails and pushing our community to think bigger and fly our flag higher and louder. He is the founder of Modesto Fashion Week of which ModestoView was proud to support and more great ideas are on the way. Ever well dressed and armed with mobile devices, let’s meet Reggie.

1. How did you land here as a hip hop artist after graduating from Washington in St. Louis?
Well, I actually grew up here for the most part. I moved to Modesto from Alameda, CA in the 5th grade, and started messing around with music in high school with some buddies. So, as I was away at college, all that was on my mind was getting back home to create more music. I think I always appreciated how hip-hop artists represented for their hometowns. At the time, it was Nelly putting St. Louis on the map. That was a large part of what drew me to St. Louis, along with the Cardinals being hot with Mark McGwire breaking home run records, and the Rams being the “Greatest Show On Turf.” I saw how this sort of cultural explosion could be so powerful for a city, so it’s something I wanted to create for Modesto.

2. When did you realize you had the ability to package projects up and promote and develop them?

I could probably connect the dots to so many childhood experiences that showed glimpses of what I’d be doing now, but I’d say the most direct revelation was producing my first couple of CDs and going through the process promoting those. You mentioned the video at the MAMAs, which was a production in itself. My brother and I put together a couple of Madden Football video game tournaments where I think we filled up 64 people brackets – kind of a roundabout way to get people in a room to listen to my music. We were borrowing a dozen TVs and Playstations from people we knew, and mapping the whole tournament out, really dealing with press and doing interviews for the first time. For a couple of kids in their early twenties, it was kind of a big deal, and really neat to create something really cool for the community starting with nothing but an idea and some drive.

3. What’s wrong with Modesto?

I would argue at the core is that we have an imbalance in our population where we lack enough 25-40 year-old college educated people without children to really propel this community to the next level in minor and more meaningful ways. This is a population that has the right amount of time, energy, optimism, creativity, naiveté, fearlessness, disposable income, and connectedness to make world-changing things happen. They’re young enough to not have been beaten down by what’s “possible” in this world, and don’t have family demands on their time or finances that restricts the type of risks they can take. And, in smaller ways, this freedom and disposable income is necessary to a healthy economy. To be clear, this isn’t to say we don’t have any people like this, and it’s not to say that people who don’t fit this demographic can’t have the same impacts. They can and have to proven to throughout history. But, I’d argue that this demographic is best suited to really push our economy and culture to another level, and if we find ourselves doing more to attract this under-represented demographic, we would see exponential improvements in our overall quality of life.

4. What’s right with Modesto?

The people. The people like Chris Murphy (ModestoView) and Chris Ricci (X Fest) and Andrea and Jerome Murray (Modesto On Ice), and Sam Pierstorff (Ill List) and Kate Trompetter (Mod Shop) and I could go on FOREVER listing bright, visionary people who just go and make things happen. These are the people that keep me hopeful about our future, and proud of our present, and confident that our destiny is one of greatness.

5. How do we blow up our stereotypes?

There are two parts to this. There’s an internal perception that we have to address by just connecting more of our residents to what’s great about our community. Rather than the “haves and have nots” we have the “dos and do nots.” The people who are connected to and participate in our community offerings love it here. If you’ve even slightly been paying attention, the holiday season in Modesto has just been non-stop really cool stuff. From Mod Shop to Rockin’ Holidays to Ill List to productions at the Gallo Center to ice skating to fun-runs and so on. But, there are still too many people that are just not connected, and so to the extent that we can bring them in to what already exists, and create even more cool stuff, we’ll eventually break free from our self-esteem issues.

The second is external, where we are only national news for tragedy – murders, mall fights, etc. And, because of our self-perception, too many of us are too quick to in a way take pride in our tragedies, as almost to internalize them so nobody else can make us feel bad about it first. So, to the extent that we can be intentional about making national news for positive stuff, and give people something to hang their hats on that is easy to boast about rather than a list of “you had to be there,” to appreciate it, we can win this battle. For instance, how might we have taken advantage of the spotlight Bernie Sanders gave us when he was here last summer?

All that being said, I know that we’re not the only community fighting what is a natural “grass is greener” way of thinking. So, even in fighting the good fight we should always remember, as a great philosopher once said, “haters gonna hate.”

6. What type of event are you the most passionate about?

I just like anything that raises the bar and expectations on what we’re capable of. High quality, high level productions. That’s something we strived for with Fashion Week. The poets, and even the overall production of Ill List was really impressive. Everything at the Gallo Center is amazing. Artists all the time talk about how it’s one of the more impressive venues they visit across the entire country. But, seeing the Valley Talent Project there every year and all of our local talent in this state-of-the-art venue is always a beautiful experience. Again, I could go on forever, but I just seeing events that raise the bar and our expectations of ourselves as Modestans. When we get to the point where we are no longer surprised by something really cool happening here, we’ve done our job.

7. It’s January and we have ice-skating in downtown, what has this done for our downtown culture?

It’s definitely another reason for families and young people to come downtown. It’s something really cool to do, unquestionably, and maybe equally importantly is that it’s a source of pride. I was able to tell Mel Tormé’s son when he was here performing for a Modesto Symphony Orchestra concert that the hotel he was staying at had an ice skating rink right next door. His face lit up like that was the most amazing thing he’d heard in quite some time. That’s really cool. I saw a post last year where somebody said they liked our rink better than the one at Disneyland. These are the types of experiences that over time will change the way we view ourselves, and how the outside world views us.

8. You work with a variety of clients to promote them in Modesto, what audiences are they trying to reach?
Wow, it’s literally every audience you can think of. I’ve been working with Modesto Symphony Orchestra, which has a mature audience, to X Fest, skewing to a younger but aging adults, to Modesto On Ice really focusing a lot of families and teens and new adults. Price points are all over the place. But, what connects all these audiences, figuratively and literally is social and other digital media. You may or may not be surprised by how much success we have reaching people through Facebook to go to a choir performance for Modesto Symphony Orchestra just like we do getting 21-year olds to go to X Fest. It’s the power of the interwebs.

9. What would you tell a young professional if they asked you about moving to Modesto?

Be ready and willing to create. It takes a little bit of effort to get the most out of this town. You’re not going to just step through your front door, walk down the street, and find something you love on every corner. We just don’t have the population to support 10 different ethnic foods on every block, or a mall with high-end retailers in every quadrant of the city. But, if there’s something you want to exist here, you can make it happen. And, if you’re willing to pick up the ModestoView and look at the calendar, you can find more than enough to entertain you until your hearts content. And, if you’re willing to seek out and connect with the people doing all the really cool stuff in this community, it’ll change your life and you’ll experience a community like you couldn’t experience any other in the world.

10. How do we leverage our classic Modesto history and music culture to create a place where people want to be for the future?
I think it’s really about creating a forward-looking lens through which we view this history. For example, it will probably be blasphemous to say, but Stars Wars or American Graffiti as films are not my thing. But, the thought of bringing a Lucas museum to our community gets me as excited as anything, because it would drastically alter our future. We immediately become a tourist destination, altering our economy and brand forever. There are people talking about making Stanislaus County the Silicon Valley of food and ag technology. It’s about creating these bridges that moves our foundations into the future.

11. What would be your perfect Modesto day?

It would start with really cool downtown housing. Walking to brunch at Harvest Moon or Ralston’s Goat. Doing some shopping. Catching a show at the Gallo Center or movie at the State Theatre or Brenden with their new luxury seating on the way. Hit Dewz wine bar for a night cap. I could live with that.

12. Fashion Week was a big success and engaged a whole new segment of our community. What made you the happiest about fashion week?
Not compromising on the vision. There were times where it would have been easier to go smaller and do less. And, it would have been fine. But, we had a vision and we fought to see it come all the way to life. Then, to see how much joy our partners got in being able to apply their passions to this production. Highlighting artists during the art walk or student designers and hair and makeup artists during the fashion show, and how much they enjoyed being a part of a really grand conception that came together, I hope did a lot to bring joy to creators in this community. Then, of course, seeing all the people who came out have such a great time, and congratulate us on creating a really cool event for the community, that always feels good.

13. What exciting is going to happen next year?
I smile thinking about this, because I’m blessed to be within earshot of a lot of really cool discussions and ideas being brainstormed right now. I don’t know how much I can share at this point, but we’re going to look back on 2017 as a really clear defining moment in the history of our community. It’s a local election year, so I’m personally going to be very active in engaging our residents in the process of elected-leadership on the local level as our elected leaders have the ability to have a snowball or stonewalling effect for what happens in our community, for better and for worse. And, ultimately, I see 2017 as the year that all the seeds that have been planted over the last few years bear fruit in big ways because of intentional action. Vacant properties are going to be filled in with really cool offerings. Campaigns to impact homelessness and vagrancy are really going to flourish. Campaigns and events of national significance are around the corner. Big things are on the horizon, and we’re taking applications!

14. Beatles or Stones?
B.V. Bridges
Chris’ Note- Starts with a B so that means Beatles



Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.