Long-time KOOPer Chris Zozaski has done it all … almost 500 shows, training, and in recent years, lots of volunteer projects in the Austin community. I spoke with him on March 15.
Michael A. Brown: Tell us about your history with KOOP.
Chris Zozaski: I think 2010 was when I joined the station … with the tech team at first, and some events. That morphed into training, which I did until just before Covid. To become a programmer, I apprenticed on John Erler’s show. My own show, The Last Roundup, started in 2011 on the Internet and about a year and half later, to FM. Now I’m with the non-profit volunteer team.
MAB: You’ve kind of become the High Mogul of KOOP’s community involvement. Take us through some of the projects and events you and other KOOP volunteers have been involved in.
CZ: The volunteer team goes out and represents KOOP along with other non-profits. We’ve worked with and donated time to the Central Texas Food Bank. We have participated with The Buzz Mill’s “Keep Austin Beautiful” project, with the Austin Farm Sanctuary, and Austin Parks’ “It’s My Park Day.” We go out every month or two, always wearing our KOOP t-shirts. It’s very gratifying when people thank us for helping clean up Lady Bird Lake or the Barton Creek greenbelt, for example.
MAB: You also conducted some amazing events with the Blood Bank of Central Texas. Tell us about those please.
CZ: We did five blood drives and they were great! They’d bring their bloodmobile to KOOP and we broadcast live on the air “play-by-play” as people were giving blood! We hope to do more blood drives because they are so valuable for the community. We try to stress that and at the same time show how easy it is.
MAB: How did KOOP sustain our community activities and events during the depths of Covid, and what’s happening nowadays?
CZ: When Covid was roaring and the city was in Stage 4 or 5, we couldn’t … and didn’t … do much. We were able to restart in September, 2021 and already have done a few projects mentioned earlier, and in the near future hope to work with Austin Wildlife Rescue and possibly adopt a street.
MAB: How do you believe KOOP might expand our involvement into parts of the community that may never have heard of KOOP?
CZ: One of the best ways is for our non-profit group to keep doing what we do; that is, volunteer with other non-profits physically out in the community where we can be seen and heard. It does feel that KOOP is hitting a stride, where more people seem to know us and what we’re about. Often, folks see our KOOP shirts when we’re volunteering, and come up and say hi and compliment the station. That happens now more than I’ve seen in a few years.
MAB: Regarding new programmers … how do the volunteers’ expectations match-up with the realities of broadcasting at KOOP?
CZ: When I was on the training team, some new people expected to get their own show on FM as soon as they finished certification. That’s possible but unlikely … they usually have to fill-in for a regular broadcaster, or perhaps become part of a programing collective, or start on the Internet. The important thing is to persevere if broadcasting is what you love or want to love.
MAB: What new things are you involved in at the station … and what’s next?
CZ: Now that we’re back in Covid Stage 2 and the weather is warming, we’ll probably do a lot of outside events. We have a few “feelers” out where we can volunteer our time as a group. Come join us! firstname.lastname@example.org
You can enjoy Chris Zozaski’s show, The Last Roundup, every Friday from 3:30 – 4:30pm. In Austin, tune to 91.7FM. Worldwide at www.KOOP.org.
Interview by Michael A. Brown