David ‘Christo’ Christopher is one of the Gold Coast’s best-known radio personalities and one third of the much-loved 102.9 Hot Tomato breakfast team.
Not only that though, Christo recently opened up about his struggle with depression and the platform he created, www.dadswithdepression.com, a space where men can find information and actually talk to one another about their experiences. Which is admirable to say the least.
We sat down for a chat with Christo about his advice for other Dads who might be dealing with depression and the lighter stuff, like celebrity interviews… including Keanu Reeves!
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
My parents moved us all up here from Melbourne when I was 11. Beside a stint of time spent chasing the radio dream, including three years in Townsville and seven years in Sydney, the Gold Coast has been my home for a loooooong time!
What do you love most about living here?
What’s not to love? In my younger days it was brilliant because the nightlife was all on your doorstep and now as a semi-functioning adult, the restaurants and kids events are all so close too. There are loads of new bars and cafés popping up that are kid-friendly and take advantage of the outdoorsy lifestyle, which makes it perfect for raising a family.
Tell us about what you do at 102.9 Hot Tomato.
I’m what they call the “anchor” on the breakfast show. It’s my job to keep the show running smoothly and on time – which is not always easy, Flan and Emily Jade are big talkers! I do all of the “services”, so tell the time and share the temps so people can plan their day. I also do all of the button pushing.
Seems like a pretty good time, what’s a normal day like for you?
Breakfast radio is anything but normal! I’m generally up at 3:40am and then again at 4:00am, after I’ve hit snooze. I’m at the station by about 4:30 to read newspapers and get ready and we go live from 5:00am ‘til 9am. After the show, we generally have meetings to plan for the next day or to discuss events coming up or sometimes we might pre-record an interview. We’re out of there most days by about 11:00am. I try to go to the gym and then depending on whether it’s a kindy day or not, I go home and either spend time with my 3-year-old or try to relax a little until it’s time to do school pick-up. Then, it’s time for my second shift – work of another kind!
How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always loved the radio; my parents bought me my first radio when I was five and I used to sit and make my own radio shows with a tape recorder. I started my radio life here on the Gold Coast at Radio Metro (it was called Hott FM back then). I just walked in and asked if I could do a show and they said yes! I volunteered for about five years, doing a range of shifts and shows around my full-time job. Eventually I was picked up by Sea FM and I moved to Townsville with my co-host, where I stayed for about three years before landing a job in Sydney. I hosted the breakfast show on The Edge 96ONE for six years and did a bunch of work on their sister stations WSFM and Mix over that time too, before taking a job at Nova, where I hosted a national night show and a national weekend countdown. Those jobs were amazing – I don’t think there was a concert that came to Sydney that I didn’t go to. I interviewed all the biggest celebrities including Rihanna, Elton John and Keanu Reeves. But once we had our first child, Sydney was too much – too busy, too expensive. We wanted to come back home where our family is on the GC. I was lucky enough to score a job at Hot Tomato doing nights before they asked me to switch over to breakfast, where I’ve been with Flan and Emily Jade ever since!
You’ve recently begun speaking about your experience with depression, how did you know something wasn’t right?
It runs in my family, which was my first clue. I was first diagnosed around the time my first child was born. I noticed that I was constantly irritable and irrationally angry for no reason whatsoever, along with the general feeling of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning; I knew something wasn’t right. This coincided with a fight I tried to start with a guy over a carpark in a Sydney shopping centre (I’m so not a fighter), with my then heavily pregnant wife in the car, who said, ‘Um, perhaps it’s time to go and get some help?”
Why do you think Dads experiencing depression is so rarely spoken about?
There’s always this stigma that guys don’t talk about their emotions or feelings. When guys get together you don’t really sit there and say, “Hey mate, how’s your depresh going bud?”. We chat about more surface level stuff. Whereas with women, they generally have a great network of friends who they can unleash to and help work through problems. As men, we just bottle it up with a “she’ll be right mate” attitude. It’s this attitude that’s got to change.
Tell us about the platform you’ve created…
It’s www.dadswithdepression.com. I wanted to create a space where dads – well, really all men, but Dads with Depression has such a great ring to it – can go to find articles and stories about depression. It’s a place where they can go to make comments and talk to other men about their experiences. To help them make informed choices on what they need to do next and what steps to take. I also wanted them to be able to speak freely, so if they’re not keen on posting comments on the site, I set up a Facebook page and a private Facebook Group where we can all go and talk openly about what we’re experiencing and talk to others who are going through the exact same thing. There’s an amazing group of guys already on the site and in the private group who are helping each other out.
What’s your advice for other dads who think they might be experiencing depression?
Go and see a doctor. If you’re not happy with the answer they give you, go and see another one! Call the government’s mental health hotline and talk to someone. Come and join the FB group and take a look at the site. Just do something! There’s plenty out there to help you, so please take advantage of it. Suffering in silence is so exhausting, isolating and lonely. Do something so that you’re not going through this alone.
What’s in store for the rest of 2019 for you and the family?
I have set myself some challenges this year to help with my depression and that is to take myself out of my comfort zone. To do some things I wouldn’t normally do. So far, I’ve climbed Mt Warning and I have a few other ideas up my sleeve. My wife is a writer, so I’m hoping she’ll have some time to finish her first great novel and I want the kids to have a happy, healthy and fun year on the Gold Coast!
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast: Because of my work hours, I can’t go past Randy Wallhole in. Their after-work coffee and cinnamon bagel combo is a winner every time for me.
Coffee spot: I recently discovered Café Hedges that I’ve enjoyed and they make great coffee; The Henchman in Miami also make a brilliant coffee. I’m a coffee lover so wherever there’s a coffee to be had, I’m there trying it out! On a bad day, I have five coffees – not great, but it could be worse right?
Restaurant for dinner: On the Gold Coast we are truly spoilt for choice. I’m a big fan of Cucina Vivo at The Star; I love my pasta and pizza so any excuse to go there is a good one. Hideaway Kitchen & Bar in Broadbeach is perfect for a night out with mates. Hellenika in Nobbys is delicious. And I love places like Burleigh Pavillion and Driftwood Social; they are perfect for taking advantage of the Gold Coast weather and enjoying a Sunday session.
Spots to visit on the weekend: Having three kids, my weekends are pretty full of kids parties, activities and errands so we try and go to different spots and places the kids can play all over the coast. The kids (and the kidults!) are always partial to a visit to Movie World or Sea World as they’re some of the best theme parks in the world, right here on our doorstep – so why not take advantage of them.