dchase MetroWest Daily News Article

From the MetroWest Daily News Sunday, July 22, 2001 page E-1


From deejay to e-strategy

Southborough’s Chase, now a high-tech exec, recalls his radio days

By Bob Tremblay

News Business Writer

SOUTHBOROUGH - When you think hip, you normally don’t visualize an executive who runs his own Internet technology and strategy consulting firm. These folks are typically depicted as anti-hip, having been born in a stuffed shirt or with an overabundance of the nerd gene.

But a rock ‘n’ roll disc jockey? Now that's hip. If it were any more hip, it would be a leg. The two professions - high-tech entrepreneur and radio announcer - don’t have to be mutually exclusive, though.

Meet Dick Chase, owner of dchase, an Internet technology and strategy consulting firm in Southborough. While a student at Brown University in Providence, R.I., Chase also worked asa deejay at WBRU-FM, a nonprofit commercia1 radio station operated Brown students. Earlier this month. Chase was elected to the station’s board of directors.

Photo of Dick Chase
Photo by Ed Hopfmann
A former WBRU deejay, Dick Chase now runs his own Internet consulting firm.

Chase, who also worked as promotions director at WBRU credits the station for introducing him to the business world.

It’s not like most college radio stations in that it is a learning workshop says Chase, class of 1986. “You learn how to run a radio station It gives you an outlet to actually be a business person and play a professional... I learned how to think at the university, but I learned to how to work at the radio station.”

Chase notes that WBRU, though run by Brown students, is independent from the university. It has to make its own money to survive.

A volunteer group, WBRU’s board of directors consists of the station’s general manager and nine alumni who were involved in the station as undergraduates. It works closely with the WBRU staff to provides legal. financial and operational guidance to the station.

“The fundamental purpose of a hoard member is to make sure the station’s around for future generations of students,” says Chase, 36. “The board adds a level of continuity that’s impossible to achieve at a college radio station since every four years you have new people.”

Chase says each board member offers a different area of expertise.

“For me, it’s to move the station in the right direction technologically,” he says. “As a board member, it’s not my position to tell them what to do as much as advise them. The students are ultimately responsible. I'm not going to redesign the station’s Web site, but I will help them figure out what they want to accomplish with the site.”

The advice comes from experience. Before starting his own company in February, Chase was director of e-strategy for E-solutions Integrator in Framingham and a management consultant at Decision Support Technology in Wellesley.

At his new home-based company, Chase is currently serving as a consultant for two clients whom he prefers to keep anonymous. His duties as consultant differ from client to client. In general terms, the goal is to help companies analyze data more efficiently and effectively.

Yes, the job pays the bills, but is it more fun than playing the immortal music of Haircut One Hundred? “I love music,” says Chase, when asked to explain deejaying's attraclion. “It’s very important to me. Someone once said every disc jockey is a frustrated guitarist and that’s me. I play a mean air guitar. You just wouldn’t want to listen to me play a real guitar.”

He has one if you’re interested, though.

“And I just loved playing music,” the Providence native continues. “I also liked the idea of being on the radio. There’s a lot of ham in me. Plus, I also liked being on the air in Providence and having my friends hear me.”

“When I was growing up, I listened to WBRU and with a friend of mine we used to play radio. He was a real go-getter, too. He hooked up with someone at WBRU, and we actually had, for a short while, our own radio show on the AM station. We played disc jockey.”

The music of the Steve Miller Band filled the air.

When he later arrived at Brown, Chase knew he wanted to work at the radio station again.

“There’s recruiting,” he says, “but I didn’t think it was necessary at the time. I thought everyone wanted to be a disc jockey.” Revelation: they don’t. Hence, recruiting is necessary.

Unlike many college stations, WBRU is not free-form radio. It has a format. “When it first started in 1969, it was AOR - album-oriented rock,” relates Chase. “Then in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s it became modern rock, but the sound hasn’t changed very much. It’s always been on the more progressive side of the rock music spectrum. Today, you won’t hear Springsteen or the Beatles, but you’ll definitely hear the Dave Matthews Band.”

When Chase was deejay in the mid-’80s, the station featured more of a mix. It played the popular stars of the day, including Elvis Costello and Duran Duran, but included Springsteen and the Beatles. Its tag line was “New England’s finest rock.”

“We actually broke a few acts,” he says. “For example, we were the first station in the country to play Nena’s ‘99 Luftballons.”

Heavy metal, however, was verboten.

“We positioned ourselves against the hard-rock station in Providence so we didn’t play Poison or Metallica. They're played at the station now,” says Chase, who actually was a metal fan. He just couldn’t play it. “And they made fun of me at the station because I liked it. I love Elvis Costello and the Talking Heads - they’re two of my favorites - but there’s nothing like some good thrash music to get your aggression out.”

He does have a confession to make. The married father of two daughters now listens to NPR.

While Chase was deejaying at WBRU, he must have been good at what he did. At one point, his midday show was rated number one with the 18-34 male demographic. “I was like Sally Field,” he says. “‘You like me!’”

Chase also worked the more demanding morning show until a stint on academic probation forced an adjustment.

“Who would have thunk that? Going to concerts all night and getting up at 6 am. to be on the radio - how could that interfere with studies?” he asks with a hint of sarcasm. “I did graduate.”

While deejaying was a kick, Chase found his stint as promotions director even more pleasurable.

“I’m 19 years old, I’m at Rocky Point Park at a Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes concert sponsored by the station and I’m giving away a Jeep. What could be more fun than that? I also got to go backstage at a Springsteen concert and the Boss signed my backstage pass. I even played table tennis with Little Steven.”

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