Chris G. always listened to radio, but the minute a friend pulled him into a college station at which he was working, Chris was hooked.
Chris G. began his career as a DJ at WRUR 88.5 in 1991. Although hip hop had been around since ’79, some thought it was a trend and no one was sure whether it would last. During what is considered the Golden Age of Hip Hop, Chris began playing the music no one else was playing. And since it was rare to find stations that played hip hop, Chris discovered people were anxious to listen to what he was serving up. His early shows took place at night, where he could play whatever he wanted.
Eventually, he left WRUR and went to WITR 89.7, where they asked him to produce a morning show that ran from 5 AM to 10 AM. He was able to do that because he’d gotten a severance package after being laid off from Kodak, and he was also DJing at clubs on the side. It was the only morning hip hop show on the air at the time. He is thankful for the strong foundation WITR gave him in radio. Because he also had to incorporate news, traffic, entertainment news and interviews with politicians, as well as the music he’s become so well-known for spinning, his skills as a well-rounded broadcaster grew.
“Joe Robach was running for office at the time, and I interviewed him on-air. It was the first time Joe was ever interviewed on a hip hop show,” Chris laughs.
In 2009, Chris turned to the internet, where he could do essentially whatever he wanted. He became well-known for his podcasts that included guests and interviews, along with the music. Many at RCTV were already familiar with Chris’ work from both his shows at traditional radio stations and his internet show, which made him a shoe-in to invite to DJ at 100.9 WXIR.
With regard to his internet podcast, he explains, “I wanted to do a show I would listen to and be proud of. ” This also explains his philosophy when it comes to his current 100.9 WXIR program, Straight from the Underground.
He went on to share that he wanted to be able to include the history and background on the artists, to joke with guests and to make the program interactive for listeners. It was important to him to have a show that was distinctive and different from what people would hear elsewhere.
One of the key elements of his show’s unique quality is his focus on non-mainstream music that isn’t heard on every other station across America playing hip hop. He looks for up-and-coming artists that have the talent to go mainstream. He takes pride in the fact that he was playing Kendrick Lamar before anyone had really heard of him.
When asked if he plays the music of local artists, he responds, “Yes,” but with a caveat.
“I won’t play their work just because they’re local. I’ll play them if they can compete with the artists I’m already playing. If I put someone on the air, they are already on their way.”
If you would like to submit work for Chris G. to consider for his show, Straight from the Underground, email him at SFTU585@ gmail.com an mp3 file, a description of you and your work, plus your contact information.