DJ Antnee in the MIX
My dorm room is a small scale Radio Shack and Musicland put together. At one end sits a CD mixer, amplifiers, speakers, microphones and other sound equipment. Under my bed there are boxes full of various lighting and fog machines. And then there's the suitcase full of CD's by my desk. Building a mobile DJ company from nothing was hard, but its been worth it. I have my grandfather to thank for getting me addicted with radio and electronic equipment. My motormouth and I seem to be made for radio, its like a bug in me. My friends tell me that too, sometimes I wonder if I actually sound that professional, or if they just want me to shut up because tend to rattle off "You've got it tuned in to WBBM-FM Chicago, Party Radio B96, This hour of music is sponsored by... blah blah blah." I guess it could annoying... but its fun! Tracing back in memory, I have my grandfather to thank for the influence. Going live in 3... 2...
Its 1984, in a small one bedroom apartment in Chicago. I'm a little, hyper six-year old spending time with my grandfather. I'm just bopping around, full of energy, as he pulls out a boom box. Not just any boom box, but like the ones the Fat Boys used to carry on their shoulders. Attached to it, he had his little Realistic microphone. He gave it to me, asked me questions, and I talked into it. And WOW! I could hear myself! I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. Then he recorded me and played me back. I thought it was so cool. Later that evening he put on the radio, and I couldn't find their microphones. I didn't understand. How were they making MY radio talk? My grandfather then told me about how the antenna picks them up. Funny thing though, I held a hanger once and nothing came out of my mouth. They must be special people.
A few years later I was listening to the radio and heard a DJ scratching records. I thought it sounded pretty cool. I must have been around 12 years old. I then begged my mom for a Fisher Price turntable. And when wasn't home I pulled out her Christmas records and began scratching... or least trying to. It didn't sound the same though, but I still felt cool.
About two years later I was a freshman in high school. I lived out in the suburbs of Chicago and started to hang out more in the city with my cousin and his friends. One evening we went a friend's birthday party. I was so intrigued because it was my first "house party." We were chilling in one of the rooms, dancing and just being silly. And I noticed something halfway through the night: the music never stopped. I didn't understand it. Radios have commercials. Tapes come to an end. Even if there was auto reverse there's still that end part that you can't record on. Even records have breaks between songs.
Later that evening I found the room where the music was coming from. And there they were. Two mixing turntables and a mixing board. They seemed to glow, like the gold at the end of a rainbow. I watched carefully as my friend put one record on and cut song after song. It was the most amazing thing I've ever scene. Faster and faster his cuts were, smoothly making the transition from one track to another. I studied his every motion he made, from adjusting the pitch of the record, to moving the crossfader. When he left the room, I tried to play around and ended up with nothing but really messed up beats. But this was a new dream for me. And I was determined.
I spent many hours over the next few years listening to the Friday and Saturday night dance parties on B96. I listened for their cuts, to the point where it was like I was studying when, and which tracks seemed to go together. Every time I heard someone spin vinyl, it was like I couldn't get enough of it. This idea of how music could entertain people through non-stop dance music inspired me to want to get into it. One major problem though, no cash flow.
Throughout my high school years, I was involved in a Filipino Dance Troupe. Many times our performances were for wedding receptions or other similar functions. And sure enough there was a disc jockey at each one. Not only did they have the art of blending music well, but they were also entertaining on the microphone. The ability to make people laugh, or astonish them through the sound of one's voice was a talent that I was very much jealous of. Contrary to what my friends would say about me today, I was very quiet in high school. I wanted to be loud and capture peoples' attentions, but it wasn't really in me at the moment in my life.
Being vocal was something that I worked on. Being in public was something I was used to, through performing with the dance troupe. But I never had to talk in front of them. Even in class, speeches and presentations were what hurt my grades. But then I had an opportunity to do some talking to a class, but without being in front of them. My senior year I was able to take an introduction to radio class.
I would have to say that out of all my classes in high school, this was definitely my favorite. Once in awhile, we were able to sit in a "studio" from a different room, and broadcast to other members of our class. I was grandfather's little boy again with the microphone. Our final exam consisted of a 4-5 minute broadcast with commercials, weather, traffic and other announcements. I remember sitting there being able to listen to myself through the headphones, watching the volume meters move at every breath I took, it was so amazing!
Through this class I was able to get a show on WDGC 88.3 Downers Grove. It was our high school's little 250 watt FM station. But it was good enough for me. We had everything we needed to be on the air: Cd players, tape decks, control board, microphones. I had a partner at the time, and he played a totally different format, which made me upset at first, but we mixed our music up for a more diverse show than any other students on this station. There was this one time when a young girl called and asked us if we did this for real and it hit me that maybe I found something to do for the rest of my life. So I began researching the radio industry.
Columbia College was a little too expensive, so I ended up at UIC. No regrets though because its been good to me. There was one event my freshman year that kicked things off for me. The dance troupe I was in lost their DJ for their Christmas party. I, being young and too excited to think (and with a new credit card), asked if I could do it for $50. And sure enough they said yes. A rush of DJ blood hit me as I maxed out my credit card on speakers, CD players, and lighting. My friend was able to lend me his turntables, mixer and tape decks. I really had no idea what I was going to do with the tables, I had no records. Then I remembered mom's stash of Christmas records, not that I would be cutting from Jingle Bells to Feliz Navidad, but at least the turntables wouldn't go to waste.
When I arrived and set up, I got scared by the size of the hall. And being a beginning DJ, I plugged one wrong connection that made my amplifier overheat every 15 minutes or so. Other than that, all went well. I attempted to do little announcing, and pulled it off, sometimes with a small squeak of my voice due to nervousness. But I did it!
Eventually I DJ-ed more parties and began to buy more professional equipment and more music. And a few weeks later I landed an on-air position with WUIC FM, UIC's unofficial radio station. Due to a small transmitter, our broadcasts didn't go farther than the residence halls, but that was okay... I got listeners, mostly friends that I made listen, but they did. I think my biggest highs of doing the show were when people I didn't know called the studio up and complemented me. I began developing my "radio" voice and taking callers on the air. My goal each show was to be as professional as possible. Grant it, I wasn't on WBBM FM Chicago, but I was on the air, entertaining people the way I've seen others do. I was striving to perfect this ability to talk to a microphone that reaches everyone's antenna. This obsession I had for radio and DJ-ing continued to escalate over the next few years. More professional equipment came along when I had more gigs to play at. Today I claim my DJ-ing as a small business called Reality Entertainment, and play for a number of UIC events. Some people on campus simply refer to me as "DJ" or "DJ Antnee," a name given to me in high school by one of my dance troupe friends. Who knows, maybe when I finish school, I'll be an on-air personality of some major radio station in Chicago.
Well that's about it for today, this broadcast is sponsored in part by Reality Entertainment, Setting the Standard in Mobile Entertainment. Quality service and low prices, call 312-307-4428 for more information. This is DJ Antnee signing off, coming up next after these messages is another commercial free life history on COMM 330, (W)UIC FM Chicago.
21 January 1999