Why I Should Have Remained a DJ

keep calm and live your dreamsWhen You’re Fortunate To Get Close To Your Dream

I knew I was on to something when I first started DJ’ing.

I got a paper route specifically for one reason only – to buy 45’s to build my music library to be used at my home grown/made-up radio station WRJD 1101.

Wanna know how I got those call letters and the AM frequency? First off, I’m dating myself using terms like “45’s” and “AM” frequency.

 

For any Millennials out there who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain first before I tell you how I made up my radio station frequency and call letters.

7 inch single - a 45rpmWhat Is a 45 or 7-inch Single

A 45 or also known as a 7″ single is a single song played from a circular piece of vinyl 7″ in diameter. The difference between a 7″ single and a 12″ inch single aside from other technical and audio factors is the same thing except on a larger piece of circular vinyl 12″ in diameter. A 45 is called a 45 because it spins at 45 RPM (revolutions per minute).

45 rpm adaptor 7"A 45 also needed a plastic adaptor to add to the large hole in the middle of the vinyl. I loved these things and bought many in my day.

vee popat's arm tattooI even have the image tattooed on the inside of my right arm.

Back To The Call Letters & Frequency

Back to my radio station…When I was a kid, my favourite station on the FM dial was WRIF 101.1 out of Detroit.

Loved Arthur Penhallow who I believe was doing the afternoon drive shift and coined WRIF’s tagline “The Home Of Rock N Roll…Baby!”.

He spun there for 39 years and finally ‘retired’ in 2009. Incredible. Even more incredible is the fact that WRIF 101.1 has had the same awesome rock format since day one and has outlasted many other similar radio stations in different markets across the USA.

On the AM dial my favourite radio station was 1110 CKJD out of Sarnia, Ontario.

I grew up with Mike Wilmot (mornings), John Devinski (midday talk show), Doug Rollands (afternoon drive), and listened to a lot of John Hayes (John Derringer) late nights/overnights lying awake in my bed plotting my future radio and music career.

My Radio Station…In My Bedroom

I dreamed up WRJD 1101 from combining the call letters and frequencies of my two favourite radio stations and began my DJ career.

I’d write and record commercials, write news, sports, and weather, and create music playlists. I’d sit up in my room for hours “doing a show” and producing it myself. Playing records, breaking for news/weather/sports and commercials.

Doing the intro and outro for each song was probably my favourite part. Timing what you were saying over the intro of a song and then wrapping up with the station ID before the vocals comes in was awesome.

I totally rocked at that if I say so myself. Still do today!!

This is the white Dorchester plastic record player my mom bought for me and what I used for WRJD 1101.

 dorchester record player

THE TOUR CHANGED MY LIFE

On Mondays, CKDJ would do an album preview. Later, while working for Universal Music Canada, I realized why CKJD would do these album previews on Monday nights. Record companies release new records on Tuesday!

Now at the time I was listening to these Monday Night new album previews, I didn’t know this and I was only 10-11 years old. I was so perplexed on how the DJ was able to go from the last song on side 1 of the album and right into the first song on side 2, without a long break.

I’m thinking how the hell did he lift the needle off the record, flip the record over, drop the needle on the first track of side 2 that fast?? I mean you’d think, at least I was thinking they’d need to take a commercial break in order to flip the record over and change sides. But no commercial break was ever taken – I was flummoxed.

So one night I couldn’t take it anymore…I think it may have been the preview for AC/DC “Back In Black” which caused me to call the radio station and ask the DJ the question that was eating at me for months:

“How do you go from last song side 1 to first song side 2 without taking a break to flip the record?” I believe that was exactly what I asked him. He told me the most obvious thing that I would have never ever thought about at 10 years old.

He told me they had two copies of the album.
I was floored and like oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh wooooow!!!!

I took that opportunity to tell him about my love for radio, DJ’ing, music, technology and also made sure to tell him about Sarnia’s newest radio station, operating straight out of my bedroom in mom’s house, WRJD 1101. Didn’t have a tagline back then…

He thought that was pretty cool. At least I thought he did. What I thought was the coolest thing to ever happen to me in my life (remember I was 10) was that he invited me for a tour of the radio station.

OMFG…I almost fainted for real.

In fact I think I probably did…all I remember was being so psyched and I told everyone.

The day of the tour I got all dressed up in my best jeans/t-shirt/and running shoes w/hoodie outfit that was all the rage back in the late 70’s.

The tour sealed the deal for me. I wanted to work in radio. It was so freakin’ cool.

All the lights and buttons, and speakers/monitors, and mixing boards, and production equipment, and all the DJ’s had long hair and wicked voices and were all so cool.

I was sure the ladies loved them as well so at 10 that was just a bonus to me, but I really didn’t care. I just wanted to be the one in the ‘air chair’ and have a mic in front of me with a killer music library – I was ready to rock.

That year I DJ’d my grade 8 graduation, which was awesome. I was right, the girls did like DJ’s.

We were told we had to end the ‘dance’ and that this was the last song. Since I was behind the turntables I didn’t get to slow dance with my crush.

So I asked the teacher if we could play one long song for the last song so I could dance. She agreed, I played Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”.

I was enjoying my first slow dance ever so much that I snuck over to the “DJ booth”, a foldable card table in the corner of the gym, and lifted the needle, dropped back a few grooves, and went back to finish the extra extra long last dance with my crush.

I continued DJ’ing quite a bit. I played in a lot of rock bands in high school and early university. But I also found myself in the booth for many occasions. Parties, Clubs, Bars, and even Weddings.

I had a short-lived radio show at CFRU 93.3 while at the University Of Guelph in 1987. Later I co-hosted a radio show called “Rap Tracks” at CFUV 101.9 in Victoria BC in 1991 or 1992.

During that time I also spun at local clubs in Victoria including The Cactus Club and some other bar I can’t remember now. I DJ’d a lot in Guelph as well in the late 80’s: The Bullring (on campus), The Animal House (off- campus), The Trasheteria (off campus), and The Palace (off campus) throughout 1987-1991.

I’ve always wanted to host a show on FM radio to this day. These days I’d prefer to do a talk radio show – I still love radio today. Both music radio and talk radio.

In fact, during my 10-15 years working in marketing and promotion in the Canadian music business, most of my time was spent doing radio promotion from the label side of things.

I also spent almost 4 years working with DJ Pools and servicing DJ’s with killer dance music for major clubs all over Canada.

One of my claims to fame is taking the club/radio single “Sun Is Shining” by a DJ named Funkstar DeLuxe to #1 in Canada.

You may remember that track as you likely sang along to it on the radio or danced to it in the club. It was a remix of a classic Bob Marley song.

 

My gig in the music business was truly an incredible experience for me because of how big a fan of music and radio I am.

I’m so very grateful and appreciative of the Universe providing me the opportunities to work in my childhood’s dream gig.

So what’s the moral of this long-winded story?

Firstly I wanted to share a little about myself in an effort for me to open up. Maybe I’ll write more personal posts instead of 100% professional leaning articles. If you read this far, I appreciate it and hope you enjoyed my tale.

Secondly, I really should have stuck with the DJ’ing. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) DJ’s are millionaires. Watch this video:

 

If you liked this post, please share your thoughts and/or childhood dreams that you’ve realized.

 

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