by M.A. Cassata
Radio’s Zach Martin has been a formidable force in radio for years. Most notably at Q1043 in New York City – anchoring the legendary Scott Muni’s show there- and now at WFAN. He’s played an important behind-the-scenes role at both stations, but is now stepping to the forefront with the introduction of his podcast, The Big Fat American Podcast, which has resulted in additional media on him. He’s had on guests like author Mark Bego and Greg Messel; as well as musicians Carmine and Vinny Appice. We caught up with him at his studio.
Q: What’s your background Zach?
A: I was born in Ridgewood NJ in 1964 and raised in East Keansburg NJ in a two-story corner house across the street from Dick’s Auto Electric. Like all little boys, I was fascinated with cars, motorbikes, bikes, GI Joe, playing war and watching John Wayne movies with my dad. I have the amazing an invaluable experience of growing up around Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, not only made an impression on me, helped to shape and define my values and ultimately my Guiding Principles. Besides enjoying music and fishing, I would find myself very active serving the Church as an Altar Boy.
Q: What drew you to radio?
A: Along the way, I discovered radio and would listen to some of the most amazing disc jockeys that defined a generation. There was Imus, the Late Vernon with a V, Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, Cousin Brucie and the Legendary Scott Muni. I would pretend to be a DJ with my record player and a spoon that would be my imaginary microphone.
Fast-forward to 1986, and I decided to become a professional radio broadcaster. My first job after graduating from the Center for the Media Arts was WWHB-Hampton Bays after a short stay at WVRN-Hazlet, NJ in which I volunteered. I always thought I was one of the best and knew that one day I would end up working in New York City on a big station side by side with the likes of Scott Muni. And, that is exactly what happened in 1998 when I joined the air staff at Q104.3 in New York. I got to work with Scott Muni and became friends with all the aforementioned with the exception of Cousin Brucie.
Q: These Big Fat American podcasts are great; with your wealth of experience, they flow great and you’re terrifically prepared. Who have you interviewed?
A: I have interviewed my share of rock artists like Vivian Campbell, Carmine and Vinny Appice, Damon Johnson, Jim Peterik, Dan Olsen and other musical guests. Additionally, I have interviewed some amazingly talented authors like Mark Bego, John Alexander,Greg Messel and Keith F. Girard. We also feature Broadway personalities; graphic-artists; sports figures, CEO’s and every day people like Tony LaGuardia who is featured in a segment called, “Thank God.” Thank God deals with losing a loved one and how we can move forward in life.
Q: Tell us about your time with the legendary Scott Muni.
A: I loved my time with Scott Muni. He was my radio super hero and I grew up listening to him. I respected the fact that he served Our Nation as a US Marine. Scott loved people and possessed a heart of gold. He did things the right way and had no time for politicking for position. We became very close friends, and Scott was part of my family. Because of Scott, my daughter, Sophie, would say the word, “Fats” (Scott’s nickname) every time she was in her baby seat in the back of the car as Scott got into the right front. He would have Sophie on his knee pretending to pick the horses with her. It was adorable.
We had a great time at work as well. It was a free form show, and we tried to give the listener treats every day. We felt it as a duty and an obligation to do so because broadcasting is a public trust-You must do all you can to entertain and inform.
One of the most memorable events was after we came back on the air after the 9/11 Attacks. We played tunes to match the moment including our regular Beatles Block. I asked Scott to read from the Letter Paul to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13). It was really something to see and hear Scott Muni with that amazing voice reading from the Bible about love and going into Let it Be.
Q: Who else do you hold in great esteem?
A: The people I hold in great esteem are not part of the radio broadcast industry. They are people like the Late Joe Capriotti. Joe worked as a Middletown Township, NJ police officer and recently passed away from 9/11 related pancreatic cancer. Joe and I worked on various fundraisers over the years and we were good friends. People like Joe are selfless. I also respect people that try to do their best despite tough challenges they might endure. Nicky Cerrato, a young man with Cerebral Palsy, who paints with his feet. The people that strive to do their best without complaining about their condition, it is those types of people that I hold in high esteem.
Q: Upcoming guests on the podcast?
A: I am always looking for guests with an interesting story to share. I love talking to people from different backgrounds-I will be looking for CEO’s, athletes, authors, artists, musicians and vocalists, actors, doctors, people that want to raise awareness of various causes, clergy/theologians, teachers, scientists, space aliens and time travelers. I would love to interview Kings and Queens, Presidents and Politicians. I am willing to talk to people from all different walks of life.
Q: Who are your dreams guests?
A: I would really love to interview the President and some World Leaders. I think there are many great things we can work on together regardless of political differences. The polarization and the open hatred that I see on social media platforms is neither healthy nor productive. If I could get some of these people in the room with me, and if we can have some respectful dialogue, that is not filtered, we can create better solutions that are more reasonable and fair as possible.
Q: Favorite movie? TV show? Radio Show?
A: My favorite movie is the Sound of Music, My favorite TV Shows are Father Ted, MASH, Andy Griffith, Emergency!, along with a few others that are on Channels like MeTV. My favorite radio show is when I am on the radio-I love the direction of the Big Fat American Rock Show.
Q: What’s the future of radio?
A: The future of radio is a conundrum. Nobody can give an accurate forecast as far as I am concerned, but I can make a guess. The most successful radio will be on a smaller scale such as in small and medium markets. I have some innovative ideas on the drawing board that will enable local communities to have a voice and for small businesses to effectively advertise their goods and services.
As far as radio personalities, they will have to be willing to go out on their own and create shows and content. When I hear about someone touting himself or herself as being creative, my next thought is how inventive is this “creative person?”
People that want to be effective and successful are going to have to risk playing without a safety net. The technology is inexpensive to the point where anyone can be part of broadcasting.
Q: Favorite music?
A: I don’t have a favorite genre anymore-I enjoy mostly everything. I do have a disdain for violent, overtly sexual and degrading content overall. I flee from evil.
Q: Who are your favorite social influencers?
I am also an Orthodox Priest, so I would say my favorite Social Influencer is Jesus Christ. To this day, the message of peace and love are crucial to a better society. Love thy Neighbor and Love they Enemy. We live in an Evil World. I see many people who seem miserable, and I think the reason is simple. People do not focus on who they are instead they focus on what they do. It is my mission to point out the difference. It is my hope that people will understand that comparing your life to the life of another is a complete waste of time and energy. Be thankful, smile more and stop worrying about tomorrow. You only live one day at a time. Make the most of it.