Feature Article


Waking Up With the Zoo

by Melissa Minners

            Do you have trouble waking up in the morning?  I’m not ashamed to admit that I do.  Oh sure, I get up when the alarm clock goes off…well, most of the time anyways…but, as we all know, waking up encompasses a great deal more than just dragging yourself out of bed.  For me, not even the early morning cup of coffee can wake me up as well as a dose of my favorite morning radio show.  I just can’t truly wake up in the morning until I’ve had my fill of the Z Morning Zoo!

            I’ve been listening to the Zoo for years.  As far back as I can remember, the Z Morning Zookeeper has been Elvis Duran.  He’s shared hosting responsibilities with others – I still remember when they used to call it the Z Morning Zoo with Elvis and Elliot – but Elvis has always been the only guy who could reign in the multitude of personalities that share the airtime with him.  And what a crazy bunch of guys they are!  When I started listening, the cast of characters were a tad different.  Elliot Segal has since moved on.  Christine Nagy, the straight-laced DJ/actress, is now a morning DJ on a light FM station.  But all of my favorites are still there – John Bell, the voice of reason; Danielle Monaro, the gossip slinger; Greg T, formerly the Round-Headed Frat Boy and now the Round-Headed Proud Papa; and Skeery Jones, the forever bachelor.  They’ve recently been joined by Carolina Bermudez, the hot Latina; T.J. the DJ, the crazy phone tap guy; Garrett, the webmaster; and Froggy, who broadcasts from Z-100’s Florida sister station, Y-100.

            As the years have passed, some of the bits have changed.  Mister Leonard, a half-drunk leprechaun-like character and his lime green Pinto have driven off into the sunset…or should I say sunrise.  Mr. Cardboard Tube – Elvis Duran speaking through…yeah, you guessed it – fizzled out and died.  Elvis’ Tot Ten Lists, in which Elvis would tell us the top then things you shouldn’t say on a date, top ten movie titles you will never see, top ten cabbage patch names you will never hear, etc., hardly ever resurface.  But we still have the horoscopes, now read by John Bell and Carolina.  They’ve added a couple of twists to the horoscopes – John Bell’s Bomb, in which John offers up a piece of sage advice for one astrology sign in particular, and numbers to let each astrology sign know just what kind of day they can aspire to.  Danielle Monaro dishes up The Sleaze, the latest gossip about your favorite celebrities.  Carolina Bermudez hosts The Rage Page in which she describes the latest fashion trends and fads.  Greg T can always be counted on to pull some kind of crazy or disgusting stunt, like showing up in a coffin at someone’s door to deliver a Halloween message, being dragged in Costco dress pants behind a horse to see if the pants would hold up, riding a Big Wheels down a busy city street and more.  I do have to say that some of the Greg T's bits are rather gross and sort of turn me off, but for the most part, they are hilariously funny.  John Bell offers us Stupid News, real stories that you just have to hear to believe.  Phone Taps were added to the format a few years ago, probably as competition to another morning radio show that also performs phone pranks.  I happen to like the Z Morning Zoo phone taps more – allowing the audience to invent a phone tap and then having that person join in on it makes for a more enjoyable skit.     

            But it’s not just these bits that make the Z Morning Zoo my favorite morning radio show.  It’s also the engaging conversations about every day issues like lousy drivers, holiday madness, restaurant disasters and more.  These conversations allow the Zoo’s listeners to identify more with the DJs.  The fact that Carolina drives an old, broken and beat-up car, that Elvis is disgusted by certain office etiquette…or lack thereof, that Froggy argues with his wife, that Greg T. is having trouble quitting smoking – all of these things combine to make these people more human to us and less celebrity-like.  We can relate to these people on an every day basis.  The fact that Elvis and the crew encourage people to call in and join in on the conversation allows the listeners to think of the members of the Zoo as friends sharing their morning with one another.  Sure, some of the conversations are silly and sure, the Zoo members act goofy every once and a while, but as they say, laughter is sometimes the best medicine.

            The laughter, the topical discussions, the music, the daily routine of news, horoscopes, phone taps, etc. combined with a crew full of people that seem to think of themselves and their listeners as family – all of this provides the listener with an incredibly upbeat way to start their morning, laying the groundwork for a happier, more enjoyable day.  I’ve always found that when my day begins with laughter, surviving the harshness of the world seems much less of a challenge.  Thank goodness for the craziness that is the Z Morning Zoo – my mornings would never be the same without you!

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