10 Questions with ... Chris Zito
February 15, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started out as a comedy sidekick on the JR in the Morning Show on WZOU/Boston in 1990. The host and I had a real rapport and I grew into a co-host and soon found myself producing as well. We got bought and launched in 1994.
I moved over to a heritage Boston morning show, Loren and Wally, writing comedy and doing characters for them. Then the opportunity to reunite with JR (Johnny Edwards) came up and we moved to Detroit.
Johnny in the Morning had a great five-year run in Detroit at Planet 96.3 (now WDVD). I served as co-host and exec producer of that show. We had a ball! They built us a great morning show studio and we were a very active show. By the end of the five years, the entire management team that brought us there was gone. And so were we.
I moved home and quickly picked up a part-time writing gig on a short-lived morning show on WZLX/Boston, the Classic Rocker. About a year into that I got tapped to host my own show in Worcester, a shadow market of Boston.
I hosted the #1 morning show in Worcester for five years at 104.5 WXLO, a Hot AC.
My PD there left for a job in Boston and poached me to do mornings at WODS.
I teamed with legendary Boston jock Karen Blake. The bottom fell out of everything in 2009 revenue-wise in radio. Boston went to PPM and conventional wisdom changed. They broke up that show after only 15 months. A new indoor record, I like to say.
Since last April ... on the beach.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
Look at my five-year-old son, Vince. It is nice being around the house in the morning when he gets up.
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
My background is in stand-up comedy. I do a ton of stand-up around New England. Plus, I started a humor blog to keep my writing skills sharp. I post faithfully three times a week. Check it out at www.zitotalking.wordpress.com.
I've also done some voiceover auditioning and I booked a great toy commercial for which I was paid in American dollars.
3) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
This one, by far (seven months), and I knew it would be. If you look at my work history, it's typical. Get fired, end up with a better gig eventually. It's not like that anymore.
4) What's the best way to get your foot in the door?
I send out brief friendly e-mails with a link to my website. So far I've always gotten at least a reply. I never call PDs unless I know them well.
5) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
For the gig in Detroit, I flew out there so my partner could introduce me to the GM. I sat in his office and re-wrote three press releases for his new morning show and he loved them.
6) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I would love to host a morning show on a Hot AC or Classic Hits station within striking distance of where I live now. It doesn't have to be Boston. A smaller-market station would be fun. I don't think I'll ever completely give up the stand-up, so that would help make ends meet if I worked in a smaller market.
7) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
My background as a stand-up and writer. My website has a radio page, of course. But there's also a link to the blog and a comedy page with a video of me performing at the Comic Strip in NYC and my stand up schedule.
8) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
No. I worked hard at every job -- really. I love radio, and I've always given it my best effort. Also, I'm very competitive. Losing gives me a stomach ache.
9) If you were offered a similar position to what you were doing for considerably less money, would you seriously consider taking the job just to stay in the biz?
Yes. As I mentioned, I've fallen back in love with stand-up and if the gig was somewhere where I could make some decent money on the side doing that, I'd jump at it.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
Make sure you feel like you HAVE to do radio. I think you have to be more passionate than ever to survive any gig in the current climate.
What great movie have you recently seen?
The Town. Ben Affleck is from Boston, and visually it was a love letter to my favorite city.