Rob, how long have you been a Disc Jockey
and how did you get started?"
[Rob in his earlier days of DJing]
I am often asked that question or something like it. The answer to that is: as far back as I can remember!
So if you want to hear a little bit of my story, read on.
I have always had a love for music and dancing. My mother is the owner of the Judith Clark Academy of Dance in Melrose, Massachusetts. She is excellent! Award winning, nationally recognized dance teacher -- Far and away the most professional dance academy in the Greater Boston area. So all my life, I grew up with an appreciation for music and dance. (I know what you are thinking… NO, I did not take ballet lessons when I was a kid. My Dad put me into ice hockey skates instead and I am forever grateful! He is the best!)
Back when I was a little squirt, I had a paper route and would take my earnings each week and put a little bit away in "savings" (very little) and usually spent the rest at record stores. I had the largest collection of records than anyone I knew. And yes, by "records" I mean that round, flat vinyl things... remember those?
When I was in Junior High, our church group held dances that were open to the entire city. Hundreds of kids would show up and it was THE event in my little town of Melrose. I first cut my teeth on the turntables then.
I continued as one of the DJs for those events all through high school. My vociferous music buying continued (I think my friends thought I should have been in a 12-step group… "Hi, my name is Rob and I can’t stop buying records…" "Hi Rob."). By senior year in HS, I had over 600 albums ranging from Led Zeppelin, to the Bee Gees, to Benny Goodman, to YES, to Larry Norman, to Glenn Miller, to the Cars, to Boston, to Donna Summer, to … well, you get the picture. I had just about every musical style you could think of.
In college, I was the guy that people wanted to have play music at parties. I had the stereo system (still just a home stereo system at this point but a pretty cool one), the music, and I could work the crowd and throw a good party. I do not count any of this as my "professional" Disc Jockey experience of course… just as the time when I was forming that desire to go into this profession.
The "professional" part of it started in 1986. I began playing for High School dances, church functions, and private parties. I then had a friend in church as me if I could DJ her wedding reception. That was when I began making purchases of professional Disc Jockey equipment and started to invest into establishing the business.
Soon after shelling out a bunch of money for professional quality equipment, I realized, "yikes! I need to pay this stuff off!" That is when I began trying to market my business. It was a bit of a challenge getting started initially, but soon I was proving myself to function managers, caterers, photographers, etc. and they started recommending me.
By the end of 1987, I had established a thriving young business and my calendar began to fill up with advanced bookings of wedding receptions, bar/bat mitzvahs, and parties of all types.
It was during this time that I also began in radio. I had provided the voice-over for a couple commercials on a local radio station in Boston, WEZE. That led to hosting a regular on Saturday afternoons on WLVG, then later guest appearances on WNRB. That experience as a radio personality has been extremely valuable as a mobile Disc Jockey. Knowing how to project on the microphone, thinking quickly on your feet, using my voice as an asset as a master of ceremonies, is something that applies directly to every event that I perform now.
… are you still reading? Are you really interested in this stuff? OK, I’ll continue then…
Wanting to continue to improve my ability as a master of ceremonies, I joined a local Toastmasters Club in Cambridge, MA. This is great experience to gain confidence on the microphone and in front of an audience. I’ll toot my own horn, but one of the comments that I frequently receive is how "professional" and "smooth" I come across as a master of ceremonies during a wedding reception or other party. Quite honestly, while a good part of it is just a natural extension of my personality, I have really worked at it and continue to work at refining my craft.
By 1988-89, I had been working in some of the Boston area’s nightclubs. It is during this time that I worked on refining my skill with music programming and beatmixing. When you have a dance floor of 600+ people packed, the transition of the music needs to be absolutely seamless, on beat, and smooth. The art of mixing and the ability to keep a continuous flow on the floor is something that I find works at every other type of event. It’s not just reserved for "club music." That same mixing ability works into every other style of music: oldies, Motown, rock, disco, top-40, hip-hop, country, etc. I have developed a high level of skill in this area and have actually given seminars and written articles on this very subject.
… still with me?… OK, just a little more…
It was not long until the requests for my services began to grow beyond my ability to accommodate them. I would often have 4 or 5 people seeking to book my services on the same date. I made the conscious decision at that point that I was NOT going to branch out and form an agency. I did not want to send out other DJs under my name. I knew the level of service and professional attention that I wanted to give to each client and I knew that I was the only one who could do it to the level that I would expect. As a result, I have made the decision that I will remain a one-person operation.
Could I make more money by sending out DJ trainees to DJ people’s functions? Sure I could. And I could probably make a lot of money from that. But that is not why I am in this business. I am in this business because I love what I do. I have a passion for it. And I know how important the role of the musical entertainment is the success of a function. I simply would not want to take the chance of sending an inexperienced DJ to perform at somebody’s wedding reception. I know that I am going to be able to work with every client on a detailed level. I know that I will be able to make sure that every client is treated to the best party they have ever been to. So I remain a one-person operation and network with a group of highly qualified professionals.
Over the years, I have been recognized as one of the top Disc Jockeys in the area (in Boston and now Atlanta). I have been flown to different parts of the country and Canada to DJ at peoples’ functions. I have DJed for recording artists, a head coach of a professional football team, and many function managers (when a function manager hires me to DJ her own daughter’s wedding, after seeing hundreds and hundreds of DJs and bands, that is a high vote of confidence). I have also been hired as the Disc Jockey for over a dozen other Disc Jockeys (and goodness knows, we DJs are by far the pickiest clients in the world when it comes to DJing!).
But honestly, what means more than all that, is that I know that the bride and groom from the wedding I DJed just last weekend were thrilled with my services. They were treated to the best party they have ever been to and they will now have memories that they will be able to cherish for a lifetime.
OK, I’ll wrap it up…
As we have moved from Boston to Atlanta, it has been a fun challenge "starting over" in many respects. None of the function managers knew me. None of the photographers. None of the other Disc Jockeys in the area knew me. So I have had to "prove" myself all over again. And it has been great! I have made some wonderful contacts and that expands at every function.
Well, if you have read through this whole thing, congratulations! You don’t win anything for it. But hopefully you have a better understanding of my experience and why I love what I do.
Phew... I've heard enough, Rob... take me back HOME
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