WITH CHRIS FADE, A UNIVERSAL PET AND THE MOST FAMOUS RADIO MASTER IN THE EMIRATES, UNDER THE VOICE TOWHILE WAKES UP IN THE COUNTRY, WE MET IN THE LOBBY OF THE KEMPINSKI MALL OF THE EMIRATES HOTEL, JUST AFTER HIS MORNING SHOW AT VIRGIN RADIO DUBAI. FUN, SMILE AND IMPOSSIBLE STYLISH, HE LOOKS VIGID AND ENERGY.
Interviewed by Irina Malkova, photo by Yakub Islamov
Chris, how are you? How do you usually feel after the show?
Chris Fade: Today I feel great. Sometimes you go out of the air completely devastated, because the show lasts 4 hours, from 6 to 10 in the morning, on a very intense wave - we talk, joke and laugh a lot, communicate with the audience, and this takes a lot of energy. Sometimes after the broadcast I come home to sleep a bit, if, of course, I can and if there are no meetings and negotiations.
Are you used to getting up early? Isn't it hard to get up every day at 4 a.m.?
Chris Fade: No, I hate getting up early in the morning. When I got my first job in Dubai on the radio, I did a daytime show, which was the most comfortable for me in terms of daily routine. It was possible to get up late, and in the evening still have time to go somewhere. I worked like this for two years, and then I was offered to host a morning show. At first I refused, because I was not ready for the early climbs. But in the end, I agreed, because the morning show has more advantages. On the radio, it is believed that the morning show sets the tone for the entire radio station, and if everything is good in the morning, then everything will be fine and then. In addition, we have an excellent team, and now I would not exchange this work for anything.
Prity Malik and Big Rossi - your permanent co-hosts on the morning broadcast. How much time do you spend together?
Prity Malik and Big Rossi - this is my "abnormal" family. I spend more time with them than with my family and my children. Preity - half American, half Indian, Big Rossi from England, I am Australian Lebanese, so we, in fact, are a great example of the motley population of Dubai. And the content that we produce is addressed not to specific social strata, such as expats from England or Arabs, but to everyone without exception. Our task is to broadcast positive and humor without any national preferences. If we manage to make someone laugh in the morning, then our work is done. After all, people stand in traffic jams, sometimes for two hours, some come from Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and we understand how exhausting this can be.
Do you have any secrets how to “disperse” yourself in the morning and transfer this energy to the audience?
Chris Fade: When you host a live show, the energy comes from both the listeners and the music. After all, this is my job — mine, Prity Malik and Big Rossi. When working at a radio station, we must make people happy. It is our responsibility. Even if I have a cold, I have to come to the studio because I don’t want people to be upset not having heard their favorite show in the morning.
Are you planning a program in advance or is it impromptu?
Chris Fade: Every show is planned. I, Prity and Big Rossi are sitting and planning all the topics on the eve. But when you have a live broadcast, listeners call the studio and very often you have to improvise.
How did you come to the profession? Living in Australia, you were the host of a fairly popular show. What motivated you to move to Dubai?
Chris Fade: After graduating from school in Sydney for a long time I did not know what to do next. While I was thinking, I managed to work as a barista in a cafe for four years. In parallel, for two years I was selling men's clothing in a store, then washing cars for a year. That's what I did from 18 to 23 years old. Then I went to college, where I studied marketing, and upon graduation I went to work for one large company. However, after some time, my boss said that I was talking too much, and advised me to go to work on the radio. For two years I was delivering flyers of a local radio station by car, while continuing to work as a barista. My parents began to worry about me: after all, at 23, I still did not have normal work.
My girlfriend, whom we met for 8 years, left me, because during this time she became a successful PR manager. Soon, I still got a job on the radio, and from 23 to 27 years worked as a host.
At first it was hard, but over time it turned out better and better, and the show gained popularity. By the age of 27, I was ready to change jobs and wanted to work in other countries. At that time, and it was 2007, I had two proposals - to leave for Kuala Lumpur or Dubai. Then I did not know anything about Dubai, but it was close to Lebanon, where my parents came from. I accepted the offer from ARN and came to work for Virgin Radio Dubai.
You have wonderful diction and a well-set voice. Did you make speeches on purpose?
Chris Fade: Until the age of 14, I was generally lisping, and at school they laughed at me. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I say so much that, probably, the voice tuned itself. It's like pumping muscles in the gym. My friends from Australia still cannot believe that I work as a radio host.
What is your audience today in numbers?
Chris Fade: I definitely can’t say, but someone said that about 2.7 million a week. The most beautiful thing is that wherever I come to Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah or AlAin, people come up to me and say that they listen and love our show. It is very nice. Recently I was in Paris, on the Eiffel Tower, and even there they recognized me. And once I walked in a Buddhist temple in Hong Kong, wandered peacefully in a quiet open area, and suddenly I hear: "Chris Fade ?! Can I take a picture with you?"
Did you imagine such a success?
Chris Fade: I could never have imagined anything like it. And most importantly, I did not specifically do anything for this. My former boss always said: "Never do anything for the sake of glory. You cannot succeed on radio or television if your only goal is to gain popularity. Do your job well, sooner or later people will appreciate it and come to you."
Unfortunately, today, with the development of social networks, one can observe how many people are chasing exclusively for fame, not representing anything by themselves, not having anything for their souls other than beautiful selfies. I believe that if you are well versed in something and are a professional in your field, you will have an audience.
Do you set the rules during the show or is your guideline?
Chris Fade: In general, we are quite free, but we certainly have some kind of guideline. For example, we will never even touch on some topics, because we respect the rules and traditions of the country in which we live.
What is your opinion about the people of Dubai?
Chris Fade: There are completely different people living here. There are those who come here to quickly earn money and leave. They ride a Ferrari and take photos from the Cavalli Club. But there are people who have been living here for decades, work very hard and barely make ends meet. There is also a middle class. But in general, I think that people in Dubai are quite happy with their lives. I don’t always understand when people start complaining about life in the Emirates. In the end, no one is forcibly holding anyone here, this is everyone’s choice.
Many people listen to your show and sometimes call with very personal problems. What do you think about it?
Chris Fade: Once we had a show for 29 hours in a row without stopping - we were stupid, I wanted to impress. During this time, about 300 people called. Among them was the girl Mona, who was deeply depressed. With the help of Virgin Radio, we gave her presents, invited her to our studio and tried to change her life a little. It's great to change people's lives. Once we talked with one girl live and asked her a question: would she stay with her boyfriend if he did not have money? She openly stated on the radio that no. Her boyfriend, who was about to propose to her that evening in Bourge Al Arab, heard this and canceled the engagement. A year later, we talked with him and he said that he had met another girl and was happily married. So the show radically changed his life.
In other words, this is a kind of therapy ...
Chris Fade: A lot of people write to me asking for help. Through the radio, a special subtle connection arises between the presenter and the audience, people are imbued with trust and believe that we can help them.
We always feel this and try to help. Recently I talked about how I would like to become a psychologist and seriously think about getting a psychological education. I really like talking to people and helping them.
In addition to the radio, you also recorded a couple of songs.
Chris Fade: I play guitar and drums, and it so happened that my good friend Two Tone, a rapper from Morocco, came to me with a proposal to record one track. We released a single with him, we played it on Virgin Radio and this song became number one on iTunes Middle East. Six months later, we recorded another track, and the situation repeated itself. Not that these are the best songs in the world, but I think we did it. And I’ll tell you that sitting at the microphone and performing on stage are completely different things. Being a leader is easier for me.
Your family is partly already involved in your morning show, is that true?
Chris Fade: Yes, I brought my mom to the show, after which she started Instagram and now writes a weekly column in Ahlan magazine. And the last time she was in Dubai and walking around the mall, people came up to her and asked her to take a picture with her. In general, in our family we are all very close and constantly in touch. My brother and two sisters live in Australia. And if Australia were a little closer to Dubai, I would never leave the Emirates and stay here for life. My uncle, who lived all his life in London and made a career there, once said: “You know, the only thing I regret is that I did not return to Australia. Do what you like, but never forget about family. " I suggested that my parents move to Dubai, but they have six grandchildren, and it's hard for them to decide. So far they just come to me twice a year. But I think that someday I will still return home to be closer to them.