It's 5 a.m. on a weekday. The sun won't be up for another couple hours at least. And Zima has just pulled into the parking lot of the radio station for work.
Flash forward 10 hours or so. Zima has long since shed the cool radio moniker and is answering to his given name – Jacob Zinn. Now, under a bright, beautiful, mid-afternoon fall sun, he finds himself in shoulder pads, cleats and helmet on the practice field for the Avila University Eagles football team.
Yes, Zinn, a senior at Avila, might just be the only backup kicker/morning radio producer/disc jockey in the world.
And he's loving every minute of it.
"I've known pretty much what I've wanted to do with my life since early in high school," said Zinn, a 21-year-old whose devil-may-care attitude might have something to do with the Cheshire cat grin he seems to have permanently tattooed on his face. "Every step I've taken along the way has been moving toward that. Now, I'm just going to wait and see what happens."
While Zinn's job in radio – he produces Afentra's Big Fat Morning Buzz from 6-10 a.m. weekdays on 96.5 The Buzz – mostly was a product of sheer force of will, his role with the Eagles' football team came about almost by accident. Zinn didn't even play football until his senior year at Pleasant Hill, Mo. High School, when a group of friends talked him into going out for the team. However, he did play club soccer, and not just for any typical local youth club. He played with a group of older Hispanic players, who take their "football" very seriously.
His prowess with kicking a ball ended up earning him a scholarship at Avila.
The radio gig was a product of sheer persistence, Zinn said.
"I e-mailed The Buzz at least 30 times," he said. "I knew they did talk shows, and I knew the company I wanted to work for. I interviewed as an intern, stayed patient, and fortunately, it's worked out."
As the youngest and newest DJ in a three-person booth (with Afentra and Danny Boy), Zinn, er, Zima said he often plays the comic foil to his broadcast partners, right down to his stage name.
"Zima … it's only big in Japan," he said, laughing.
He gets to perform some of his own comedy sketches, especially during "Stand-up Tuesdays." Friday is a day for song parodies. Wednesdays often are reserved for talking about Zinn's relationships and related stories, where he often finds himself the brunt of the host's humor.
"They're professionals," he said. "I'm in a growing phase. It's taken me a while to move to that point. It's just something I like to do. I fell in love with it."
In addition to working in radio, going to school and playing football, Zinn said he's also managing a budding country singer, Branson Ireland, and was excited about an upcoming concert opening for headliner Justin Moore at Whiskey Tango's in Grain Valley, Mo.
"If Nashville came calling tomorrow," Zinn said, "I'd drop everything and go."
Zinn, who's majoring in marketing with a minor in advertising and public relations, said Avila has been the perfect place for him to prepare to go after his dreams.
"Avila is the school I wanted to go to," he said. "I knew if I went to a bigger school, I'd get distracted. I wouldn't get the one-on-one attention I needed.
"And, the coaches have been nothing but great in working with my schedule."
As Zinn – or Zima – sees it, the world is pretty much his for the taking from here on out.
"I strategically set myself up so that I had options," he said. "I think I have those now." AU