10 Questions with ... Chris Fenway
June 9, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I began working in radio in 2004 at the age of 18 for Entercom/Greenville. I started as an intern in promotions and eventually was hired on part-time. That led to also learning how to run a board and becoming comfortable in front of a microphone. I accepted MOST opportunities thrown my way. I didn't accept a part-time job in traffic (commercial scheduling) because, well, ew. In 2009 I became the full-time night jock of WFBC B93.7 in Greenville, SC. After a lot of hard work and conquering many different challenges, I moved on to become MD/night jock of WWST (Star1021.1)/Knoxville, TN in June 2014.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
My first radio gig as a full-time night jock immediately came with many different challenges. The economy was in the tank and, like many other radio stations, it was all about promoting within or delegating numerous tasks for one person to complete daily. I accepted and conquered those challenges and was always ready for the next task thrown my way. It was a tremendous learning experience. It eventually led to me producing most of the station imaging and doing music logs.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
Honestly, I wanted to stay as far away from Math as possible. If all I have to worry about when I come into work is adding and subtracting, I'm fine with that.
3) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
Recently, we held a "Pick Your Purse" promotion that required qualified listeners to come out and basically stare at Coach and Michael Kors purses on display. It was like a meat market out there. As we drew a name, that listener got to step forward and pick any purse that was on display. Advice: never come between a woman and her designer handbag.
4) What's the coolest promotion you've EVER been involved with?
As a promotions part-timer in my first market, we held a "Drop A Car On Your Head" event where listeners won a head of lettuce on the air. On a set date, a helicopter dropped a car on a huge numbered grid in an open field. If the steering wheel landed on your head of lettuce, which was identified by the number in the grid, you won a new car. That was in 2004. Still the best promotion I've ever been part of.
5) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
A lot of people do not like him because he is everywhere, but I tend to gravitate towards Ryan Seacrest more than others. He started off in radio exactly how a lot of DJs have and has turned it into a HUGE success. Even Seacrest was once an intern. And now he's his own brand. He played the game smart. You have to tip your hat to him.
6) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
Growing up I watched Letterman every Friday night during the school year and most nights during the summer. Everything about his personality and humor was real. Nothing was forced. He knew how to pull the viewer in. Stuart Scott knew how to grab your attention as well. I wanted his job. I wanted to say all of the cool phrases and one-liners. I always kept it in the back of my mind through the years. When I got to high school, I took a Journalism class and knew that this business was absolutely for me.
7) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
I have a completely separate 8G iPod for Dave Matthews Band. Anything in that genre, along with some EDM artists, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West, just to name a few.
8) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
Honestly, I love proving critics wrong. Radio continues to grow every year and there is no sign of its demise any time soon. Radio will always be challenged. It is the single most accessible product to any individual. The competitors can't warn you of a major accident on a busy highway or severe weather in your area. Even if listeners aren't always tuned in at the moment, they always come back.
9) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Leave everything you think you know at the door, be willing to learn a lot of different things and say yes to every opportunity. Also don't "fangirl" over jocks. It annoys us.
10) What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
This image will never go away. We just have to continue to win ... and win bigger.
What was your last non-industry job?
I worked in food catering and let me say, yes there are a lot of long days in radio. But at least we don't have to clear off tables of 300-400 people and end up wearing and smelling like whatever they ate at the end of the night.