10 Questions with ... Chris Zhao
May 24, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
As a sports fanatic, I started out as a producer for the Dartmouth Sports Network -- mainly for college hockey games. I got into color commentating soon after that, and was given the opportunity to call some games. I felt pretty comfortable being on-air, so I took a wild chance with 99Rock. Started off with a weekend morning slot and now I'm on weekday afternoons from 1-4pm.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I've always loved listening to the radio. You never know what you're going to hear next. So when I walked into the WFRD studios for the first time and realized I could be behind that, I couldn't resist the opportunity.
2. What stands out the most from your first job in radio?
I was a producer for the Dartmouth hockey games. I remember being so rattled by the seemingly complex studio equipment and Radio Systems Millenium Digital board. I was like, "Wow this thing is easy to screw up..." It hit me that one person touching the wrong button could wreck the whole broadcast. Needless to say, I tried my best not to mess up.
3. What part of your job do you like best? Least?
I love having music at my fingertips. I'd say my favorite part of the job is being exposed to rock music, and being able to share different songs with our listeners.
Also, going out to live events, doing promotions, and being able to meet our huge fan base is one of the greatest feelings. I can't say I really have a least favorite part, but getting out of bed every morning sure is tough.
4. How would you describe the music and imaging on 99 Rock?
We're an Alternative Rock station, so while our core is the 90's and now, 2011 marks our 35th year locally as the longest running rock station... a huge milestone given the constant format and ownership changes in our local market. This has given us the opportunity to highlight songs we've debuted over the past 3 and half decades. Our imaging is tight, and targeted to young professional adults, with both the humor and vocal attitude of Jeff Berlin and the sexy flare of Joanna Stadwiser.
5. What makes the station unique?
WFRD is unique to so many other stations in the country because of the fact that we're a commercial radio station, yet completely run by students (at Dartmouth College). We make our own revenue and our own decisions.
6. What has been your biggest challenge at the station?
My biggest challenge so far has been filling up the "99Minute Nightmare," our hard rock time block (weekday late nights). Who would have known that there isn't an abundance of metal-heads around here?
7. What recent promotion has caused the most excitement with your listeners?
We're always rolling out contests that feature everything from car giveaways to trips, concerts, and more, but one big one that lands our listeners and their families has become the biggest "Mud & Truck" event right in our backyard... Twice a year, 99Rock and Vermonster 4x4 team up for the Spring Mud Fling, and Fall 4x4 Festival. Both events have grown since our first one, and numbers are now at close 10,000 people during the weekend. You'll find everything from Monster Trucks, Head 2 Head racing, and even a power-wheels race for the kids. And the 99Rock jocks even take turns racing in the 200-foot trench-with no vehicle, we get in the mud for the spectators... It's a fun time that you can't find anywhere else in New England.
8. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
A nice breakfast sandwich. The most important meal of the day. If I sound grumpy on-air, I guarantee it's because I didn't have my usual sausage and eggs.
9. What do you like most about living in New Hampshire?
Coming from a big city like New York, life in New Hampshire has been "different"
to say the least. But it's become kind of a haven for me. It's quiet, and it's beautiful. You can see all the stars at their brightest, and I'd say that's what I love most about this place.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I don't eat vegetables. Don't bother putting lettuce on my sandwich because it's just going to waste. People are always like, "How could you NOT eat vegetables?"
I just shake my head and tell them to check out how healthy I look.
What are your hobbies?
Being outdoors, playing sports, and listening to good music.
Last non-industry job?
Lifeguarding at the local pool. What a steal of a job.
First record ever purchased?
3 Doors Down - Away From The Sun
I remember seeing Rihanna in concert before she really emerged into the pop scene.
Favorite band of all-time?
Tough one, but I'd stick with 3 Doors Down or Third Eye Blind.