In addition to his work as a real estate broker in Sag Harbor since the late 1990’s, John Christopher is in his third year as host of “Real Life” which is broadcasted every Friday at 5:30 p.m. on NPR’s WPPB, 88.3 F.M.
I first met John when he enrolled in my real estate licensing class at Southampton College. Since then, he has practiced his profession with Douglas Elliman, Cook Pony, Harpoon, Corcoran, and currently, Brown Harris Stevens, all in Sag Harbor, where John and his wife, Kimberley, reside. John’s 19 year-old daughter, Kyra, is a studying musical theater at the Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, and is appearing in a summer stock production of “Chorus Line” in Michigan, the youngest member of a very distinguished cast.
WPPB, which broadcasts from Southampton, is the only National Public Radio Station on Long Island. Its broadcast area is from Southern Connecticut, to the borders between Suffolk and Nassau Counties.
John’s segue from real estate to broadcasting is best explained by John himself.
I grew up in Philadelphia and was a child prodigy at four. I was inspired by my neighbor who was a piano instructor. She only had nine fingers, and I thought, “think what I could accomplish with ten.” I studied classical music and won a scholarship to Julliard but was discouraged by my parents from attending. They thought it would be a difficult way to earn a living. I did major in communications and media at Temple University and played jazz piano and composed my own music in my senior year and after. I then went on to a film production career in California and, later, New York, where I also attended the Manhattan School of Music. A mentor at the school arranged for me to conduct my own composition with the NBC Symphony Orchestra at age twenty-seven. How often does an opportunity like that come along? I also composed the music for one of magician Doug Henning’s acts.
So when did you decide to get into real estate, and how did that lead to hosting “Real Life?”
We were living in Manhattan and my wife convinced me to move to Sag Harbor. I haven’t looked back since. I was involved in some investment properties and had some bad experiences in dealing with real estate brokers. I was determined if I ever became one I would never be like them. Three years ago, with Brown Harris Stevens, I represented a seller who introduced me to Dr. Wally Smith, President of Peconic Public Broadcasting. With the encouragement of Brown Harris Stevens Manager Ed Reale, I told Wally that we would be interested in hosting a program devoted mainly to interviewing local people involved some way in real estate. He was receptive and we are now in our third year of broadcasting.
Are you still active with your music?
I do rehearse my daughter for her auditions, and I composed the music that accompanies “Real Life.” Other than that, I play for my own amusement. But I never play a song the same way twice.
Have you had any particular experiences with your radio guests that stands out?
Well I have had many interesting guests, but I would single out my idol, Dick Cavett. Having appeared on my show you know we do three ten-minute segments with three different guests. In Dick’s case, I gave him the entire half-hour. What an experience that was. He was just great. He told of an interview he was doing on his television show with the publisher of medical books as well as a couple of other guests on the panel. After asking a question of one of the other guests he turned back to this fellow for his opinion. No answer. Dick said, I guess you didn’t find that too interesting? Still no answer. Finally, he realized, the fellow had died of a heart attack. The show was cancelled.
Nothing like that has happened to you?
Thankfully, no. I did have a guest who thought it was a one-hour interview. She was much surprised when I cut her off after ten minutes. I did have her come back at a later date though. I have had some guests who clammed up in front of the microphone, but we can edit that.
How many shows do you do, John?
We do thirteen thirty minute broadcasts divided into three ten minute segments.
Besides your real estate and broadcasting activities, are you active in the community?
Yes. I am on the Harbor Committee in Sag Harbor. Our focus is water quality. Another real estate broker who is very instrumental in advocating for clean water is Douglas Elliman broker Paul Brennan. Paul has appeared before the Legislator in Albany in an attempt to create awareness of how septic systems affect water quality. The population of the Hamptons has increased to the point where over development has become a critical factor in the construction of “McMansions.” Paul has also been a guest on “Real Life.
Having been in the real estate business for almost twenty years, what advice would you offer to new agents coming into the business?
Real Estate can be an excellent career. It requires hard work, financial backing when you start out, and most important, developing a reputation for integrity, not only with clients and customers, but just as importantly, other real estate professionals.