For decades, the goal of the DJ, delivering great music and fun, has remained the same. However, the way that goal is reached has changed.
To use a more appropriate expression, the art of DJing has been “remixed” numerous times over the years.
Anthony Robinson, DJ Mama Mia and DJ Diamond, all popular Indianapolis event DJs, remember getting started when DJs used the legendary Technic 1200 set of turntables, and had to carry heavy crates of vinyl records to events.
Robinson noted that DJs can now entertain with software on computers and MP3 players, enabling them to use databases of tens of thousands of songs.
“Back in the old days you had to really cater your collection to the audience that you planned to be performing for,” said Robinson, founder of Midwest DJ Entertainment of Indiana. “There’s no way I could carry albums with 100,000 songs with me; you would be talking about bringing a tractor-trailer load of records. With the current technology, now you can be prepared for just about anybody’s event.”
“I used to carry around bags of CDs. I’m taking eight of them filled to the brim,” said DJ Mama Mia, whose legal name is Mia Martin. “Now I just carry my laptop, which essentially functions as virtual turntables. It took some getting used to, but now I’ve adjusted and love it.”
Martin, who has been active as a DJ for nearly 30 years, added that she can now use speakers that weigh 30 pounds instead of hauling the 70-pound speakers she once had.
“The equipment is lighter and the sound quality is better,” she said. “Some people just carry a flash drive.”
After nearly three decades in the business, DJ Diamond, whose real name is Devorn Blueitt, has also noticed how the actual storage of music as gone from albums to cassettes and from CDs to music now being downloaded on computers.
“It makes you be able to have a bigger musical library,” said Blueitt. “Your collection can be 100 times larger.”
In addition, Blueitt noted, the lighting and special effects used by many DJ’s has evolved. LED lighting, which uses less wattage and lasts longer, is becoming the choice for more DJs. Amplifiers, which were once sold separately from speakers, are now being made with speakers in them.
On-air DJs have also noticed other ways that they can do their job, with many going from being on traditional AM/FM radio formats to launching shows that use satellite technology, such as those that can be heard on the Internet or satellite radio.
DJ Ralph Adams was a popular voice during the jazz segment for WICR-FM (88.7).
Now he can be heard Monday through Friday on Jazz-City Radio, an Indianapolis-based station available on Live365.com, an online satellite music network.
“All of it is done using computers, you don’t have to go into a studio,” said Adams. “You could be listening to someone on the radio and they could be in their living room at home.”
Although technology has changed over the years, what has not changed for Robinson, Martin and Jackson is their love for DJing.
Robinson, who has operated Midwest DJ Entertainment of Indiana since 1992, provides services for a variety of events, but has discovered that his business is most popular among clients who need custom wedding and personalized party entertainment.
“For me, the fun part is the interaction with people,” said Robinson. “I go to events and see people on one of the happiest days of their lives, and that’s always exciting.”
Bluiett, whose DJ Diamond Productions provides both music and TV style game show services, views his DJing role as a way to help a special occasion become even more memorable.
“I enjoy being a part of someone’s big event and seeing people have a good time,” he said. “Clients are taking a chance on you when you to become the entertainment for an event that is important to them.”
Martin has enjoyed “getting the party started” for family and children’s events. She prides herself on being an “activity DJ”, which she says sets her apart. She enjoys getting participants active with activities, contests, games and her trademark roll call.
“When I first started I noticed that people would sit around and listen to music or only dance sometimes. If they are not motivated to dance they will feel like a wallflower” said Martin. “I like to get people energized on the dance floor with both music and activities.”