Greg Gurley: Dad, DJ, Director of Operations, Chicagoan

Greg Gurley.

Greg Gurley.


In the age of accessibility, it’s easy to feel like we are being pulled in many different directions. We have competing responsibilities and interests, and unfortunately not a lot of time. Greg Gurley does a lot, but he does it well. Here’s what all hyphenates can learn from him.

Greg is one of Chicago’s most popular DJs (check out some of his upcoming sets at He is the host of a radio show (every fourth Thursday on Lumpen Radio). He is Director of Operations at Thrive Chicago, an organization that serves Chicago youth. He volunteers his time and sits on a few boards, promotes sustainable eating by making carefully calculated decisions about where he shops for food, and he is a husband and father to a one-year-old girl.

“We’re multi faceted, that’s the cool thing about people. It’s a matter of prioritizing and really being structured with your time.”

By doing so much, it might be easy for some of us to lose ourselves in the chaos of packed schedules, work deadlines, and our families, but Greg recognizes authenticity and integrity as some of his core values, which keeps him grounded and leads to smart prioritizing of his time. He intertwines an authentic piece of his soul in the work he does at Thrive, volunteering his time on the junior board of the Green City Market and his university board (s/o University of Miami, “the best school in the world,” according to Greg), and especially the music that he plays.  

“I don’t play anything that I don’t like or anything I don’t listen to. I don’t care if the whole world likes it, if I think it’s corny, I’m not going to play it.”

Greg Gurley.

Greg Gurley.

He also steers away from playing music from rappers who have been accused of sexual assault and violence against women (ahem, Chris Brown, Kodak Black). And you won’t find him anywhere he doesn’t want to be, though that’s not to say he always gets to be everywhere he wants, mentioning a recently missed The Internet concert.

“When you become comfortable with yourself and understanding that you’re making conscious decisions, and your decisions aren’t choosing you, you’re okay with missing out. That’s what having a child taught me. You do what you can, and if you can’t, that’s okay. Life doesn’t end.”

Greg Gurley.

Greg Gurley.

As for growing up and living in Chicago, Greg feels fortunate to have had the life that he has. Parents that have stayed together and exposed him to the city’s musical history and culture early on. He reminisces back to his middle school days, when he spent weekends at the Museum of Science and Industry.

“People take for granted the amount of cultural experiences you can have in Chicago, for free. There’s a vibe that the city has that you don’t find elsewhere. It’s a sense of loyalty and authenticity.”

Check out Greg’s top three Chicago restaurant picks:

  1. Parachute

  2. Band of Bohemia

  3. The cafe inside the Red & White wine shop


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Gosia Labno is a photographer and writer based in Chicago. She holds a B.S. in Media and Cinema Studies and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies. She is working on a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Follow.