10 Questions with ... Zach Sang
August 21, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started broadcasting from my parent's home in Wayne, NJ, via an Internet station that I started when I was 14. The audience grew to 2.6 million, which allowed me to score interviews with artists ranging from Justin Bieber to the Black Eyed Peas. Next, I joined online broadcaster Goom Radio as host of Zach Sang & The Student Body, which aired nightly from 7-9p. And I'm seen on Nickelodeon and Nick.com as a host and on-camera personality.
1) So, what enticed you to start an online radio station when you were 14?
I got really bored working at Food Town. I was bagging groceries and the only part of the job I liked was talking to people. So I thought starting a radio station for teens would be fun. So I took the idea and ran with it. Online radio was the obvious place for me. I live in New York City -- the biggest market in the world. If I had knocked on the door of a radio station at that age asking for a job they would have laughed in my face. It's not lost on me that within five years I have gone from my old bedroom, to the old Z100 studios of Goom Radio, to the CBS Broadcast Center in Midtown Manhattan. How cool is that!?
2) Tell us about this new show. How will it be different from what's out there?
We are taking what we used to do at Goom, which is create fantastic content and partner it with great music. Content is dead ... especially on radio. People my age can't say, "When I was a kid, my favorite radio station was ___." We want to bring that excitement back. And since we are totally live, we will be tweeting when our competition is sleeping. Our youngest competitor in national radio is older than the demo. One guy is like 42! I'm 19. Nobody talks to the demo like me. Our show is a conversation with our peers. We take topics straight out of the Twittersphere, like Tom and Katie's divorce or whatever is happening at that minute and create real time interaction, merge it with music, all into one, a giant radio hangout. The show is not just us. It's the listeners as well.
3) Tell us about your crew...
The fantastic Shelley Rome is my right hand. She's the provider of all things gossip and the voice of reason in the room. She's also the voice for women, too, for that matter. I am the guy that girls really like, obviously. As I say this, Shelley is rubbing her body so it must be true. Heather Connor ... we ask her to do whatever we want: walk the city north to south in heels or talk to strangers in the subway. She does random red carpets with my face on a stick. She'll be carrying my head on a stick everywhere! And Shareese Hurt is the producer of Zach Sang & the Gang. She is my left hand. She books the guests and helps me pick the music. All of them have really deep experience in New York radio in their own right, so I am very fortunate to have them with me.
4) You picked all the music for one of your previous online endeavors, Zang Radio. Will you also be picking the tunes for this new show?
Yes, I will be. My big thing is I remember walking into Tim Herbster's office at Goom Radio. I saw all the plaques he had, in recognition for helping start music careers. I want some of those plaques! We have a great platform to break records. I want to break songs. If we like it and it's fantastic and it speaks to our generation, I'll play it. And for all my radio programmer friends, don't worry. We will obviously follow the Top 40 hits as reported by Mediabase!
5) What new releases would be a great fit for your show?
A song that really speaks to the demo and generation. Fantastic hooks. Great beat. Not limited to established artists. New artists as well. Demi Lovato, Carly Ray, Justin Bieber.
6) Talk about the experience of working at Nickelodeon.
Working with Nickelodeon has given me a new outlook on the entertainment industry. Now I'm the guy you can see on TV and online, live on the orange carpets, and all kinds of cool stuff. It's opened up my whole idea of what multi-media really means. What Nick does really well is utilize the online space. You are only given so much air time. It's critical to use that precious time to move traffic to the web and continue engagement there, and vice versa. The opportunities for radio are limitless in this way.
7) Who would you say were your main influences?
It would have to be Ryan Seacrest and Howard Stern. Ryan owns all of the mediums, radio, TV, Internet ... he produces. And he's absolutely fantastic at everything. On the other hand, I absolutely love, love, love Howard Stern. Listening to him taught me if you are really honest on the air, people will love you back. So I wanted to do the same from day one. Howard is someone I really look up to. And he is great at the online pieces, too.
8) Who would be the ultimate artist or celebrity for you to interview?
I would say Barack Obama. I did the math the other day and I have interviewed over 1,700 celebrities. I'd like to do something serious. I would ask The President to talk about how he's going to help our demographic. I have met the "First Kids" and have seen but not spoken to the First Lady. The kids love Nickelodeon, I know that!
9) Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
I will still be on radio and covering as many mediums as possible. I see the reemergence of national radio -- with fantastic national content and highly influential national media personalities. It will reflect brand recognition at its finest. Having that association in a local market will be a big win. In the future, radio will have a much, much greater connection to the audience than it is given credit for today.
10) What artists are we likely to find on your iPod?
Justin Bieber's new album. Fun, period! My friend Ariana Grande, who has an album coming out on Universal shortly. I love Classic Rock. And Top 40 songs from way back in the day, like in 1998 and 1995 and stuff. GooGoo Dolls and old Maroon 5 songs. It's fun to hear the difference between today's songs, which are produced out of thin air with a computer and a vocal, and songs that were recorded by actual bands! It's striking that you don't need bands anymore to create a hit song.
How does it feel being so young in a business that's run by guys in their 50s?
Obviously, I don't expect all the people I am in business with to stoop down to my level, so I bring myself up to their 55-year-old level. But I still have my times when I behave like a properly immature 19 year-old. I adapt.