Elvis Duran Z100 Elvis Duran and the Morning Show

Moving through my adolescence, medical most of my activities suited a certain daily routine. Every weekday I went to school, page every night watched the same TV shows, otolaryngologist and every morning I and most of the tri-county area woke to the sound of one particular disc jockey and radio host: Elvis Duran. What was then the Z Morning Zoo on 100.3 FM has now become the Z100 Morning Show, stationed out of New York City and broadcasting its sketches, contests, celebrity interviews, and specials nationwide to much more than the east coast. With all of the excitement one has built up before meeting a childhood hero, I made my way to the office of the man whose voice I’d heard on my radio every morning for so many years.

After being welcomed by Elvis’ dedicated and gracious team, I was introduced to the man, himself, and proceeded to pour out to him the questions many dedicated listeners would ask if offered the opportunity.

VF: Elvis Duran. Your name has been stamped forever on the world of radio, and your work on the Z100 Morning Show now reaches a multitude of cities. The show is heard by a wide range of listeners from different parts of the country and all walks of life. How does that make you feel when you think of this achievement? 

Elvis Duran: I was asked this question by someone several weeks ago. I look at it this way- If I wasn’t me, in this position, I would be impressed by what’s going on here. But when you’re in it, and you’re doing it every day- it doesn’t figure in. It’s just something I love to do, and I’m surrounded by people I love. I’m very blessed, and very lucky. For me, it’s just fun work that I love to do every day. When you’re in it, it’s not that impressive.

VF: How did you get your start doing radio? Was this a childhood dream, or something that just came along in time and worked out? 

ED: Ending up in New York wasn’t something that I had imagined for myself, but doing radio was a childhood dream come true. I remember when I got my first radio as a kid, and heard these disc jockeys playing songs and talking about the artists, giving callers prizes and trips, and I thought it was the coolest thing. When you’re reading a book, you have to use your own ‘theater of the mind’ to paint the picture of what they’re [the author] talking about. It’s incredible how DJ’s (between the records) would do these exciting things like race around the world or broadcast live from underwater with sharks swimming around them. It makes you stop and start to paint the picture in your mind of ‘where are they?’ or ‘what does that look like?’ I always thought that was cool and was seduced by radio from an early age.

VF: You’ve been in radio and broadcasting for a long time. How do you feel about the changes technology has brought to radio? 

ED: I love how technology has totally changed what we do for a living. In the old days, you’d walk into a studio for a few hours, play music, take a few phone calls and leave. Now we have camera shots that we’re setting up for an interview with a superstar, and we have questions coming in on Twitter, and emails, and we can take the show outside of the studio. I love what technology does for us every day.

Not only is it the technical end of how we deliver our show, but also how we communicate with our listeners. When I first started, we had a request line and that was the only connection we had with listeners. Now, the pipeline is open to everyone. We are so accessible, and the great thing about radio is that we’re live! You can text your favorite TV show, and they may mention your text in three weeks, but we talk about them as they come in. It’s unheard of in any other mass media. We embrace technology and manipulate it as much as we can.

VF: Your life has been an open book on the radio, and in time you’ve opened up more and more about your life outside of the studio. Has your work affected your personal life?

ED: It has. Because of being on the internet and having our pictures out there, people see what we look like, and it has changed. Being recognized in public – I like it. I can touch someone and shake their hand, and meet people who hear our show. Being in radio is a microscopic sample of what real celebrities go through. I don’t know how they do it, because I’m sure it gets to be a crazy life. We get a small taste of that, and it’s no problem at all. We want to stop and say hello to people who support us. Radio brings a whole different relationship than Rihanna has with her followers, or what Ryan Reynolds has with his fans, because we are such a daily part of routine, just like brushing your teeth. People listen to us at the same time every day. We’re more of a family member than we are a celebrity.

VF: You don’t really get to hear as much from celebrities, either. Waking up to your show on the morning and hearing what you all have to say every day helps listeners and fans get to know you better.

ED: Yeah, so the question is, what would Ryan Reynolds say for four hours on the radio every day? He might be the most interesting guy in the world, but you’ll never know that. Just through his short interviews you get to know little bits about him, and even then it’s very controlled. We have to fill up four hours a day, so we talk about everything. I talk about my personal life now more than ever, and I find it very liberating. I talk about my relationship, but there’s an end to it. You just talk about the things that you find are interesting. Every day we have material from writers, but the most interesting thing is when all of the members of our show come in and talk about what happened to them over their weekend. It’s real and it’s relatable, it’s sort of a family meeting every morning, not only for us but for the people who participate and listen. 

VF: Z100’s Morning Show has a huge community and conversation going on between listener and host, with real conversations happening in real time that people seem to thrive on. 

ED: We try to keep things as real as we can. It’s easy, because I don’t think we know how to do anything other than that! If someone asked us to get on the air and pretend to have visited a store for an ad or commercial, we couldn’t do it. It’s just impossible.

VF: So once you leave work, what does the rest of your day look like? 

ED: Well, we’ll sneak away and have a three bottle of wine lunch, or today I’ll go work out, and some days just go home and crash. Then you wake up and just start watching TV and reading emails, all to get ready for the next show. I wash dishes- it’s not a very glamorous life. I don’t know where all the hours go. Because of this question I’m gonna start monitoring what I do when I leave here, because I don’t know!

VF: Well your webpage’s bio says you are “a person who loves traveling and enjoys great movies, books, wines and restaurants.” Has your career allowed you to do a lot of traveling? Where do you enjoy going?

ED: I just like to get on a plane and go. We [the Morning Show] were originally just New York, and when we first signed on to do Y100 in Miami, that’s when I really started getting used to being on a plane a lot. I never understood how business people did it (traveling so much) but I loved it. It’s so good to get away. I have a house out in New Mexico and it’s great to go there, especially when New York gets so cold. I travel to the West Coast a little bit. I find that I’m just working to get to the next vacation, because those are the trips I treasure. Just going away and relaxing, far away. 

VF: Not only do you get to travel, but you frequently are able to meet and have celebrities on the show. Do you have any favorites who have visited? 

ED: Lady Gaga is my favorite, without a doubt. It could be because she grew up listening to us, and she’s a New Yorker. There’s something kind of cool about that, because someone of her stature and her magnitude, when they walk through the door and are excited to meet you, we think, “really? It’s just us!” Justin Bieber has turned out to be the biggest surprise (in spite of all the Bieber-bashing) because he is such a cool guy. He’s a lot of fun and has a huge heart. He’s very philanthropic and spiritual. We also had Daniel Radcliffe, and he’s just a great guy. You’re so used to seeing him as Harry Potter, and then you wonder what else there is to this person. He was just a very nice guy, and we were more in awe of his ‘awesomeness’ than his acting ability and his list of credentials. The best interview is someone who can merge into what we do, rather than us merge into them. It’s more fun for the person you’re interviewing and your listeners. 

Elvis Duran and Justin Bieber, photo credit: ElvisDuran.com

VF: Do you have any celeb-interview disaster stories? 

ED: Usher. We could not get him off the air fast enough. I don’t want to bash people, but the listeners were texting in because he was just a little belligerent, and self important. I’ll just leave it with Usher. He’s an extremely talented guy, and he came out with one of the best albums of that year, so I must be equally in support of him- as well as bashing him.

VF: For all of us who grew up with you and the Morning Show, and may not be able to listen anymore, it’s great to get to know more about you. For your fashion loving listeners- who is your favorite designer? 

ED: When it comes to men’s suits I like Zegna, but I don’t wear a lot of suits. I’m shoes. I bought my first Jimmy Choo‘s this past weekend.

VF: What’s your favorite pair? 

ED: I love my Converse. Those are my favorites. They come in all colors and they’re so versatile. I also have Balenciaga deck shoes, purple suede. They’re so cool!

VF: Besides your wallet and your phone, what’s the one thing that you won’t leave the house without? 

ED: My underwear. You must have underwear on at all times. And my Bobbi Brown bronzer. If we know a camera’s around, or I’m going out, I’ll use my Bobbi Brown bronzer. I’m Scottish, I’m very pale. [Bobbi Brown] She’s my hero.

VF: What other projects are you involved in outside of your work?

ED: The Staten Island Zoo has been in Barret Park in Staten Island since the ’30s, and they were desperately in need of help. I really wanted to try to get involved, so this is going on my second year of being a contributor to the zoo and a supporter. Now they’re in growth mode and bringing in new animals because of what we’re doing. Another organization I’m on the board of is Rosie’s Theater Kids. It takes school kids from all ages in the school system in at-risk situations in their neighborhoods, exposes them to the Arts that are unique to New York City. There are after-school programs, as well as in-school programs. Not only do they tutor kids, but what’s amazing is that they get them interested in the Arts, like Broadway and musicals.

Rock and Rawhide is another project I work with. We went into the kill shelters in New York City and discovered that the noise levels inside were driving the animals insane. They were becoming un-adoptable. We’ve found that as we give the animals chew toys and things to play with, that the noise levels have gone down and made the animals more friendly, and we’ve seen more adoptions since we started. The Night of A Thousand Gowns is another event I support that has become huge, and it’s a fundraiser for LGBT Youth.

VF: Will you always stay in radio? Is there another vocation that you’d be interested in working in if ever offered the opportunity?

ED: I really don’t have any other opportunities, thank God for this job! I know there’s a commitment to be here for at least 5 more years. Beyond this- I’m not quite sure. I’m not the kind of person who sets goals and has a 5, 10, and 15 year plan. I just sort of go and wherever the winds blow me, that’s where I end up. TV looks fun, actually. If a great opportunity came up, and I knew there was some chance of success, I’d be willing to do that. It looks like it could be fun. For now, this is where it’s at for us. 

For more information on Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,
check out his website at http://www.elvisduran.com/main.html