Roula & Ryan in the Morning
A match made in Houston has held strong on the radio for 13 years.
By Judy Latta
Many Houstonians recognize them, often without ever seeing their faces; their familiar voices and comedic banter are part of their charm. For more than a decade, the energetic Roula Christie and laidback Ryan Chase, the two homegrown Houston personalities of The Roula & Ryan Show on 104.1 KRBE, have entertained Houston morning commuters with a combination of current music, unique personalities and comedy.
Roula was born and raised in Houston, the fourth of five children of immigrants from Tripoli, Greece. Her father, Jimmy, began working for Christie’s Seafood and Steaks shortly after he arrived in the United States, and he was ultimately bestowed the restaurant, which will be 100 years old next year. Jimmy took the last name Christie as the Americanized name he would eventually pass on to his large family.
Roula attended kindergarten through high school at St. Thomas Episcopal School. Growing up, she spent her time hanging around Meyerland and the Galleria. Following graduation, she moved to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University , but after her freshman year, she decided to return home to enroll at the University of Houston to study business and to help her family run Christie’s.
One fateful day in 1995 while working at the restaurant, she took a food delivery to 104.1 KRBE and was invited into the broadcasting studio to watch the DJ in action. “His name was Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant, and he single-handedly turned on the fire for radio in my heart,” she says. “After that night, I knew that radio was the career path I wanted to take.”
Following this experience, Roula changed her major to radio-television communications and took an entry-level position at 104.1 KRBE to begin her radio broadcast career. “Two years into being ‘the phone girl,’ ” she explains, “I had the chance to get on the air, and I never looked back.” After four years at the station, she accepted a morning show position at Clear Channel Q102 Radio in Philadelphia where she was known as “Christie.” Her show was wildly popular and pulling much stronger ratings than the company’s Houston morning show, prompting one company executive to ask, “Why do we have a Houston girl kicking ass in Philly when she could be kicking ass in Houston?” Thus, Roula was offered the opportunity to return to Houston to host the local Clear Channel morning show. Although she describes the three years she spent in Philadelphia as “amazing,” the pull of returning home was just too hard to turn down.
Ryan moved with his parents to the Katy area from Montoursville, Pennsylvania during Houston’s oil boom. At 13 years of age, he experienced significant culture shock moving from a small town in the northeast to the vast metropolis of Houston. He attended Mayde Creek Junior High and Taylor High School of Katy ISD. Following graduation, he enrolled in Stephen F. Austin University to study communications and journalism. He was initially more interested in television broadcasting, but when the university closed its TV studio for renovations during his senior year, he took the first internship he could find at a Lufkin radio station, K-Fox 95.5. “By that point, I just wanted my degree,” he explains.
Ryan’s first radio job was running the broadcast board airing the Casey Kasem Top 40 show. One day, however, he arrived at the station and the Casey Kasem package had not been delivered in time to air during his shift. So Ryan, unable to contact anyone in management on short notice, went on the air himself. As a result of this bold decision and his on-air performance, the station ended up giving him his first regular on-air position.
From there, Ryan built his career, moving around to various radio positions in major media markets, including Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York, where he worked as assistant program director for Z100 New York. He then went on to work at Howard Stern’s flagship station. When he was in New York, he says, “watching Howard and what he did, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I really wanted to get into morning radio.”
One day in 2003, Ryan got a tip that there was a morning show opening in Houston. He hadn’t really planned to return home, but it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time, so he set up an audition. “Houston was really an accident, but everything happens for a reason,” he says.
THE MORNING SHOW
After her offer from Clear Channel, Roula traveled to Houston to audition with several different radio personalities, the first of whom was Ryan. The program director “wanted to find out if we had chemistry, and I guess we did because we got the job,” Ryan explains. The duo launched The Roula & Ryan Show, and three months later recruited executive producer Eric Rowe from Dallas. After a few years, the show was replaced at that station, but due to popular demand, the threesome eventually landed their current gig at 104.1 KRBE. There they assembled the rest of their team, including creative and funny “man on the street” Special K. Eventually, they added their newest member, technical producer Krystina.
Now they have one of the most listened-to morning shows in Texas. In addition to top-40 hits, their show is comprised of celebrity scoop, interactions with call-in listeners, comedy and community service. In their most popular segment, Roula and Ryan’s Roses, the team helps listeners find out if their mates have been unfaithful. Additionally, their work together goes beyond what they do in the studio; they have raised money and awareness for local charities and have sold out various venues across the city to perform their show live.
Despite their 4 a.m. alarms, the show has been a blessing, allowing the two to have full-time, high-profile positions and still have ample time to spend with their families. This is critical for Roula, the mother of three children under the age of 5, and also for Ryan, a single father of a busy teenage daughter.
Roula says, “I really do love what I do every morning. The hours are early, yeah, and I am always sleep deprived, sure, but there is nothing better than to work in the same city where you were raised your whole life and help wake people up with smiles on their faces.” Ryan adds that their time on-air “is really just a bunch of friends having a conversation in the studio.” He says, “it’s easy to forget there are all those people out there listening.”
Roula and Ryan have been together for 13 years, 10 of which have been with 104.1 KRBE. “Some of the players have changed over the years,” Roula says, “but the laughs have stayed the same.” At this point, they are a well-oiled machine. Ryan says, “if one of us is off, the others pick up the slack. We can finish each other’s sentences.”
The Roula & Ryan Show can be heard on 104.1 KRBE-FM each weekday morning from 6 to 10 a.m. It can also be heard online or by downloading the free app.