Meet Kiss FM's Brotha Fred

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ :: Chicago Radio, TV, All Media Discussion Forum ]

Posted by Bud on April 13, 2011 at 13:36:56:

Meet Kiss FM’s Brotha’ Fred: ‘I expect to have to prove myself’

by Robert Feder | 4/13/2011 | Timeout Chicago

Anyone who knows him will tell you that Christopher “Brotha’ Fred” Frederick was born to do radio. The question no one can answer yet is whether he was born to do radio in Chicago.

His grandfather was a station owner and manager. His father was a legendary disc jockey. As a kid growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona, young Christopher spent hours pretending to be a DJ. During high school, he hung out around radio stations. In college, he turned his passion into a profession.

Last January — following on-air stints in Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina — Frederick, 30, landed his “dream job” as morning personality at WKSC-FM (103.5), the Clear Channel Radio Top 40 station known as Kiss FM. He replaced seven-year veteran Kevin “DreX” Buchar, who’d been dropped because of declining ratings.

Although the jury is out on whether Brotha’ Fred will make it in the long run, the latest Arbitron Co. figures are looking up: In March his ratings jumped from eighth place to fifth with a 5.0 percent share of listeners between 18 and 34 — Kiss FM’s target audience. But he still faces an uphill battle against his main rivals, Jamar “J Niice” McNeil and Julian Nieh on CBS Radio rhythmic Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3), now second with a 6.0 share.

In his first extended interview since he started here, Brotha’ Fred reflected on his move to Chicago, his new show, his heritage — and that awful nickname:

Q. How’s the show going so far?

A. I am really pleased with our progress. I was incredibly fortunate that a longtime member of my team, David [Livingston], was able to relocate to Chicago as well. Angi [Taylor] is the consummate professional and I simply adore her. The entire team has the same goal in mind: work hard, have fun, and make people laugh — or at least smile . . . just not hysterically weep.

Q. How would you describe your chemistry with Angi and David?

A. Angi is a polished, talented presenter, but is as real as it gets in the process. She won’t hold back her opinions and is not concerned with what anyone thinks as a result. There is an “edge” to Angi that is surprising, yet her inherent female sensitivity and relatability is invaluable. She keeps me in line and will not hesitate to let me know when I’m off base regarding the opposite sex. We all seem to balance each other well. Our team represents a voice of differing ideas and opinions that exist among our Chicagoland audience.

David and I have been working together for almost five years. He is not only capable of being hilariously funny, but has a tremendous amount of life perspective. We see eye-to-eye on many things and differ on others. He is like the big brother I never had. As I enter into my thirties and begin to consider growing up, he has a unique way of grounding me. He is often the devil and the angel on my shoulder, adding to my life confusion.

Q. What’s been the toughest part of living and working in Chicago for you?

A. I have never lived in a place where there is so much locally based pride. Chicagoans are very boastful of their city and their fellow residents, and I think it’s fair to say that I have found them to be leery of outsiders. It’s not surprising, just different from anything I have experienced. I don’t expect that because I have been given the opportunity to host a radio show in Chicago, that people are supposed to embrace me automatically. I expect to have to prove myself as someone who wants to be here and desires to be a part of the community. I have already started the process by getting involved in local, community-oriented and philanthropic entities. I am as visible as possible. I want to meet people and share my appreciation and excitement to be living and working in Chicago. This is my dream job. I have always wanted to live and work in Chicago.

Q. How many markets are you heard in now? Still on satellite, too?

A. Our morning show is heard in three other markets. We customize our shows for every market. For example, our show is live in Chicago. Our listeners deserve a show for and about this great city. We are on a brief hiatus from our satellite show on Kiss XM in order to focus on the 103.5 Kiss FM morning show.

Q. In addition to radio, you were big on TV in Charlotte. Are you hoping to do TV here, too?

A. The Fox affiliate there had a perfect platform for me — one that I haven’t seen in any other local market. I am unconventional, though, and can’t wait for the perfect opportunity to develop a television partnership in Chicago.

Q. What’s the origin of “Brotha’ Fred” as your air name?

A. I was doing college radio at Southern Methodist University’s KPNI. I use the word “radio” loosely here. KPNI was dubbed the college radio station, but didn’t actually broadcast anywhere. Not even online. The station was hard-wired throughout the student center and only audible to someone spending an extended period of time in the restroom.

I was given an almost unheard of opportunity to submit my aircheck to a Dallas radio station for a weekend overnight opportunity. While the hours were not desirous to most, the market size was massive — fifth largest in the country. I was surprised to be given the opportunity to audition. I was later told the only reason that happened was because it was comical that nobody who heard my tape could figure out anything about me. What did I look like? How old was I? The guy who hired me gave me an eloquent speech I will never forget: “You’re horrible on the air, but you sound completely different from anyone I have heard, and I can teach you the rest, but I can’t teach that.”

They decided to call me “Brotha’” Fred — Fred has been a longtime nickname — as a testament to mistaken identity. The moniker has stuck everywhere that I have gone since KPNI. It’s not my favorite, admittedly, but I don’t know of any other personality with the same name.

Q. What was your reaction to the story that identified Charlie Van Dyke as your father? How did you feel about his comments?

A. I was not surprised in the least. I also was not shocked that he made the connection public. The opportunity to host a morning show on 103.5 Kiss FM in Chicago is the highest point of my career. My success has been based on my own work ethic and accomplishments and not those of my birth father.

I am proud of who I am. I have been given so many gifts and opportunities in life. My passion for broadcasting is one of those gifts. I give credit for that passion to my birth father and grandfather for entirely different reasons. Some people live their entire lives searching for something they love to do as much as I love radio. However, I am highly imperfect and will always be a “work in progress.” I am thankful for a core group of family and friends who have stood by me, unconditionally. My mom, adopted-father, sister, grandparents, aunts and close friends are the reason for my success. They have never faltered.

Q. Do you think you and your birth father will ever get together?

A. If we do, it will be a private matter.

Q. Whom do you consider your role models in the business?

A. My grandfather was a radio station owner and manager. He is the most likable guy I know and a true expert in relationship building. If I am half the man he is, I am a success. My mother and adopted father have taught me about hard work and goal setting. They were right there by my side when I forwent law school for the pursuit of this crazy radio dream.

Professionally, I admire Howard Stern. He is the most polarizing, compelling and relatable presenter of our time. I have studied his path to success. While some find his content objectionable, he is master behind the microphone.

Tony Coles, a longtime friend, mentor, and my boss, and Dusty Black, my first general manager in Austin, are just a couple of men I admire and aspire to emulate in many ways. My close friendship with Mr. Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise, has given me an actual image of the right kind of success. That is success based solely on the content of one’s character.

Q. What’s the best advice you ever got?

A. Never say “no.” I know that sounds somewhat counter intuitive in a world where people around every corner will take advantage of you if you let them. But I would not be where I am now if I had been the person who said: “I’m not doing it because I am not getting paid,” or “This is going to be of great sacrifice to my personal life.” It was only because I said yes when nobody else would, that I was able gain the opportunities to accomplish the goals I set out for myself.

Q. What would you be doing if you weren’t in radio?

A. I’d be a pilot or a lawyer. I am a multi-engine, commercial and instrument rated pilot. I absolutely love to fly…anything! Maybe I would be a professional skydiver. I got my license last year and have 48 jumps to date.

Q. When will you know you’ve really “made it” in Chicago?

A. When I am invited to throw out the first pitch at BOTH a Cubs and a Sox game — and nobody “boos” me. It may never happen!

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




Optional Link URL:
Link Title:
Optional Image URL:

Enter verification code:

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ :: Chicago Radio, TV, All Media Discussion Forum ]

postings are the opinions of their respective posters and site ownership disclaims any responsibility for the content contained.
(register a domain name, host your web site, accept credit cards)