The 20 most coveted Colorado music-industry jobs: The complete list with five new profiles
Afternoon Drive Host (DJ Chonz, KS107.5)
The afternoon drive time host of KS-1075DJ Chonz is probably one of the most recognizable personalities in the hip-hop scene. Co-founder of the Radio Bums crew, Chonz is a self-taught masterful DJ whose love for the craft is matched only by his consistency and work ethic.
"It started early when I was (in sixth grade), but my brother got into gangs and got rid of the turntables," Chonz recalls of his first exposure to music. In high school, Chonz hung out at the hip-hop-centric storefront, Casa Del Fonk, where Asia, the store's owner, would let him hone his skills, "They had one turntable and an old CD player I would play with," he remembers, "but no one taught me how to mix."
Chonz instead developed his skills by listening to the mixtapes they sold at Casa Del Fonk by dudes like Jam X, or from going to parties and listening to Hen-G scratch. "That dude," he says, referring to Hen-G, "came over to my house one time when I got my first turntable and scratched. I recorded it and learned to scratch from that."
In 1996, Chonz went on the "Eclipse Show" on KGNU 88.5 to battle a couple other DJs, Chris Nathan and Hakeem Klaaliq. Chonz won the battle and kept winning for a couple weeks, and that gave him the opportunity to open for De La Soul at the Fox Theatre. Now an on-air personality at KS-1075, Chonz wasn't even in town when he got the job, "I was doing an internship in L.A. when Francios Baptiste was pitching the show to the previous program director," Chonz says with a laugh. "It was him [Francois] and Kingdom. He asked me to be the DJ for their show."
The quality of the Sunday mix show resulted in Chonz receiving offers to work Friday and Saturdays street parties, which eventually led to mixing on The 5'oclock Commercial Free Traffic Jam, which led to a full time air shift. "I was the first person to mix live on the radio," he says. "As far as commercial radio, no one was doing that."
Now an established figure, Chonz has lately focused on giving back to the community. This coming summer, Chonz and his brother Fienz will celebrate the twentieth year of Lordz of Finesse with another bboy jam in July, building on countless community parties he's helped host, bringing music and food to the people in Denver. "I just want to be a positive role model for these kids to look up to," he concludes. -- Antonio Valenzuela