The fans’ point of view: an interview with Christos Zavos, OGAE, Greece


Warming up for the next Eurovision Song Contest, I decided to talk to the fans – the people who have turned the Contest into what it is today. Collectors’ items, merchandising products, promotional materials, small gifts… fans are always eager to get them, with their interest sometimes making completely unknown singers great music stars.

That’s why I called an eminent specialist in the sphere of Eurovision mania, who can be trusted to give a reliable, competent and well-informed opinion.

Chris Zavos is one of the first people in Greece to whom it occurred to draw to the idea others sharing the same love for the Contest.

  1. Sarbel and Chris ZavosHow long have you been involved with the Eurovision idea?

    My first Eurovision Song Contest was in 1979 when I was still a little kid, and as the time passed on that night my parents decided that I could not watch the show until the end because I had to go to bed; the next day they told me that Israel had won (Hallelujah). For the following years of my life I was involved in classical music, and I rediscovered Eurovision in 1987 when Greece was represented by a boy band named Bang. After many obscure years, there was again hope in Greece that we would achieve a good result, which was eventually the 10th place. In those years we only had National television in our homes, so there was a lot of publicity given to the event. I still keep in my collection my first ever official National tv magazine featuring Bang in its cover. However, it was only in 1990 that I became a member of an organized Eurovision Society.

  2. You are one of the greatest fans of Eurovision I know. I also know you as a person who likes classical music and jazz, and adores classic theatre – elite, high art as a whole. How would you explain this mixture of tastes, that some people would find unusual? What do you think it comes to say about the “Eurovision” art?

    Indeed, I love quality art, mainly because I was raised in a conservatoire ever since I was a little child, and I played the violin in a classical symphony orchestra. Still, I cannot explain even myself how I contracted the “Eurovision virus”. There have been times that I was embarrassed to admit in certain artistic cycles this side of me, because there is a general misconception that Eurovision is meant for certain people who lack good taste. This is absolutely not true. Throughout the years I have met many real professionals involved in the event and have become good friends with journalists, musicians, fans, singers, and tv people from around the world. It is exactly this idea of intercultural relations that fascinates me, the feeling that I belong in a wider world; Eurovision was originally conceived to serve these ideals. After all, I adore travelling and meeting with new mentalities and life styles. This is why people like me are the greatest supporters of the songs that keep their traditional National elements.

  3. I know that you are one of the most important and influential people in the Greek OGAE. How would you comment the importance of fan clubs on people’s attitude to the Eurovision Song Contest? How important your work is for the promotion of the contest?

    Thank you for your kind words. Although I am currently the oldest active member in OGAE Greece, I have recently left the administrative board for professional reasons, because I had to move to Crete for a few years. However, I fully trust our new board in Greece, and I am always pleased to offer my views and suggestions whenever asked.

    Fan clubs are very important because they keep the Eurovision candles lit. They hold reunions and song contests throughout the whole year, not only during the Eurovision period. Moreover, every fan has their own archives of collector’s items, such as newspapers, magazines, books, records, videos, posters, autographs, stamps, photos, etc. OGAE international has a fanzine produced in Germany and distributed to all affiliated National clubs.

  4. Do you tend to work in cooperation with ERT, the Greek public broadcaster, and in what respect do you work with them?

    When we organized the event in Athens in 2006, all the Greek fans put together their own pieces of the puzzle, and the result was a unique deluxe illustrated publication with information about the past Greek Eurovision entries, which was offered as a gift to all the fans that came from all the participating countries. We were also responsible for hosting the foreign fans by providing help with tickets, accommodation, and transportation through a hospitality initiative. I think this has saved a lot of effort, time and money to our National broadcaster. We are keen on participating in every aspect of the contest just for the honor of participating. During the live show, we create a unique atmosphere supporting our National entries, and it is not strange that the EBU trusts the front seats to the OGAE network.

  5. The EBU decided to introduce a new format for the ESC – the two semifinals. Many countries protested against this decision with little effect. How would you comment this innovation and its influence on the interest to the show?

    I only know that this innovation will not have any impact on the ardent fans. We are of the opinion that “the more countries, the more fun, the more collector’s items”. It may sound crazy to someone who hasn’t got the Eurovision virus, but for those who have it and read these lines will certainly accord with them. Besides, it has been shown that the new participating countries are more interested in the contest that the traditional ones, thus I see no reason why anyone should be excluded from the show. Whenever a change happens, there are certainly many people who are ready to foresee a catastrophy. It is not bad to try new formats as long as you later recognize if they have worked or not and try something different the following year.

  6. What are your expectations about this-year’s entries at the ESC? What kind of song do you think Europe wants to hear in order to grant the trophy to it?

    Eurovision is undoubtedly unpredictable. One year it’s ethnic, another it is hard rock, the third it is a ballad. It’s really risky to tell who is going to win. Personally, I truly wish quality songs and musicians could win the contest more often, although it seems that the show presented on the stage becomes more and more important than the songs and voices themselves. Even so, the contest is an excellent means for singers to present their work to an international audience, and the trophy itself seems less important than the exposure someone gets through this event.

  7. I’m now playing advocate to the Devil… but I have to ask you this question: Do you think that the end of the ESC is close? That is, leaving the most ardent fans alone, do you think that people are fed up with Eurovision?

    I think that the end of the ESC is close for some of the Big4 countries and some of the traditional countries, and that in the future we will see a few of those countries opting not to submit an entry, like Italy did some years ago. But I see a lot of enthusiasm from the newcomers and this alone is encouraging that the end of Eurovision is yet to come. In Greece, ERT obtains a share of over 90% in the last 4 years, mainly because striking names have decided to participate. It’s amazing that so many people criticize the quality of the Contest, yet the share in Greece remains breathtakingly high.

What more can I say after these words! Let’s enjoy together the next Eurovision Song Contest.


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