ELLEGirl: Bad-Ass of the Month
Zoe Rogers is a tune-spinning, politics-talking, Swedish-rock-loving teenager with a weekly radio show.
By Laura Barcella
Zoe, a 14-year-old music junkie, has the coolest part-time job ever. Every Sunday night, she hosts her own show on LittleRadio.com, a small but buzzed-about Internet radio station. During each two-hour segment of Zoe Radio, she spins her favorite tunes — some obscure, some semi-popular—by indie rockers like Treepeople, Built to Spill, Guided by Voices, Pretty Girls Make Graves and Brendan Benson.
“It’s all my dad’s fault,” the Southern California-based Zoe says, laughing, when asked how the whole DJ thing started. “I made a couple of mix CDs and left them in his car. He thought they were amazing, and he posted the track listings on his blog. A friend of his friend, the owner of Little Radio, saw them and [asked], ‘Does she want a show?’ I said, ‘Sure.'”
Since then, Zoe Radio has attracted heaps of attention. Music addicts young and old are clamoring to hear what this “normal teen” has to play—and say, which is Zoe’s favorite part of the gig. “I can talk about whatever I want…school, political stuff,” she says. “I encouraged people to vote and then yelled at them when they didn’t.”
Between songs, Zoe just messes around. Like, when her friend Gabby was on the air and suddenly busted out a rousing rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the keyboard.
Of course, Zoe also loves showing off her latest rock & roll discoveries. Right now, she likes—no, loves—Dungen, a psychedelic rock band from Sweden. “I played their whole album on my show!” she exclaims. “They speak Swedish, so I don’t understand what they say. But they’re my favorite.”
Zoe’s been exposed to cool music since she was a “teeny tiny baby.” Her dad, Ian, works for Yahoo! Music, and he used to manage the website for the Beastie Boys (they’re now close friends of the family). Zoe’s childhood playmates included punk-rock progeny Coco Gordon Moore (child of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore) and Frances Bean Cobain (Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s daughter). “We all hung out at the Tibetan Freedom Concerts [in the late ’90s],” Zoe recalls nonchalantly. “We were the little kids there, so we ran around going insane backstage.”
Zoe doesn’t bump into Coco or Frances Bean much these days; she does hang out with her coed crew of friends (who come over on Sunday nights to help silly-fy her show) and manages to maintain her status as a straight-A student with a penchant for science and math. “School is my favorite thing in the universe,” she declares. She plans on “going to college and [majoring] in biology. Then I’m going to med school and specializing in pediatrics.”
MTV and Nickelodeon have both called about a Zoe-focused TV show, but she’s uncharacteristically mum on the subject. “TV’s stupid, and it wasn’t my idea,” she says. But then she confesses that, duh, if they offered, she would jump at the chance.