An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews (1-25)
In this highlight, we turn our attention to Chris Konya, a prominent radio personality within our community. All of my interactions with Chris have been extremely pleasant and he possess the quality of vitality. Chris Konya’s vivacious energy is rivaled by his warm and approachable demeanor.
I asked Chris a series of questions. Here is what we discussed.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
Let’s, uhhh… skip high school for now. I’m originally from (why do people say “originally,” aren’t we all from just one place? Unless you’re literally born on a state line… IDK)… I’m from Edison, NJ. For someone who has never been down that way, it’s about 30 minutes south of New York City and 30 Minutes north of where they filmed Jersey Shore. I’m the oldest of six children. We all have the same mother but the youngest 4 are by a different guy, my stepdad Steve. He’s a plumber and made sure that I was equipped with the skills to be one too. Growing up, I didn’t necessarily fall in love with the idea of plumbing, but I did fall in love with the idea of making money. I liked going to school to be around people because I love people. I love making people laugh, even at my own expense. I did anything to capture the attention of the room and I still do. It wasn’t until the beginning of my junior year when I fell more in love with the idea of making money than I did with going to school, so I dropped out and went to work as a plumber. I took the test and received my GED making the “or equivalent” check box my best friend for the rest of my professional career.
What inspired you to get into radio? Early experiences worth sharing?
I hated listening to the radio. HATED IT! I spent countless hours in the passenger seat of my stepdad’s FORD Econoline work van with him blasting classic rock on Q104.3. Fast forward a few years when I graduated from the passenger seat to behind the wheel where I began choosing my own channels. A co-worker who later turned into my best friend introduced me to Opie and Anthony and I fell in love. These two guys got paid to talk about what they want how they wanted, which happened to be with a no-filter attitude. They were talking the way my co-worker and I talked during our lunch breaks, on the construction site, through text messages. I now loved radio. The stars aligned when I ran into a former classmate in a bar in my hometown. We struck up a conversation I learned that she worked in the promotions department at 95.5 WPLJ in New York City. Conversation led to a job interview. Part time led to full time. New York City off the air, led to Rochester, NY on the air.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
Radio is an industry with a lot of big personalities and even BIGGER egos. The hardest thing for me was dealing with unrealistic requests, scolding, and criticism from people in a position in which they thought they had all the power in the world. When I was in NYC, the idea of not having one of the hosts Diet Coke on the console at exactly 9am was just as catastrophic as spilling that same soda on the $75,000 Wheatstone mixer. I’ve refilled parking meters, picked up dry cleaning, gone shopping for tea, soda and snacks all without being appreciated.
What do you believe sets you apart from other radio personalities?
Without knocking my peers, I think that a lot of radio personalities phone it in. This happens with any industry really… certain people want to just collect the paycheck and go home. Look, I’m not saying that I come in every morning with a A-plus planned show that was going to blow away every listener that tunes in, but I do think that if terrestrial radio wants to have a fighting chance, it needs a lot more effort and creativity from its members than ever before.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I am interested in making money and capitalizing on opportunities. I still do plumbing and I bartend on the weekends for extra cash. The world is CAH-RAZY right now and there’s tons of opportunity to explode your brand. This mentality is really very new for me. I got hooked on following this entrepreneur on social media. His name is Gary Vaynerchuck. If you’re feeling uninspired lately, check him out. I’m also interested in drinking Genny Light and Jameson. 🙂
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
I’m working on a Youtube vlog where I will track my process in reaching a point of zero debt before the age of thirty (I’m at about $22,000 at 28 years old as it stands today) It’s in the very early stages but it will be easy to follow and hopefully inspiring to people that are in the same financial boat as me. Find me at YouTube.com/ChrisKonyaRadio.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I want to own something. At 28 years old, the best financial state I’ve ever been in has consisted of a full time job and $950 in a savings account. Within the next five years, I want to own a house or a business. As far as radio goes, if you’re not listening to a morning show with my name on it as the host, I’ll have to “retire” my headphones.
What advice can you give to individuals aspiring to do radio?
Eat shit and hone your craft. It’s that simple. Do the work before it’s asked of you. Do it better than your friends did, better than the person you aspire to be or be like. Back to my man Gary Vee… Check him out. He really harps on putting in the work and he’s right. Follow not only the best radio personalities but follow all of them. Tweet them. DM them on Instagram. Ask for advice, send them air checks. Put in the HOURS. Yes it takes hours, days, months, years. On the flip side, build relationships with people on the same level as you. That weirdo in your marketing class can turn out to be the PD of Z100 in NYC one day. He’ll remember the day you had lunch with him and joked about Pokemon Go.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?