During the popular days of terrestrial radio, the disc jockey had the power and the audience to become local or even nationwide celebrities.
Nowadays, the most famous ones are connected to the nightlife, entertaining the masses at clubs and parties.
But let’s look at this profession in detail.
What Is A Disk Jockey?
Disc jockeys, also known as DJs, are people who play recorded music for an audience. DJs typically choose and play songs based on their taste and the mood of the event or venue. They may also take requests from listeners.
What Does a Disk Jockey Do Technically?
If you watch a DJ carefully, you might see them turning some knobs or pressing some buttons. But what are they doing exactly?
When the DJ turns knobs, they are playing with the equalizer to give emphasis to a part of the track they are playing. They can turn up the vocals or a certain instrument depending on the song and the audience. They are editing the song live.
You might also wonder why they wear headphones. They wear them to listen to the following songs they are about to play, among other reasons.
Types Of Disk Jockey
There are many types of disc jockeys, each with a unique style.
To break it down, we will look at three types: radio DJs, event DJs, and club DJs. All these DJs have one thing in common – their ability to select music for crowds.
Radio Disk Jockeys
Radio disc jockeys play a valuable role in entertaining listeners and keeping them engaged with the radio station. They are the ones who choose the music that is played and make sure that it is appropriate for the audience. They also talk to the listeners and help to create a connection between the station and its listeners.
Event Disk Jockeys
An event DJ provides music for events such as parties and weddings. The event DJ accomplishes several goals during the event: they set the mood, offer fun, and keep the party going. Whether you want a lively and upbeat atmosphere or a more relaxed and romantic vibe, an event disc jockey can help to set the tone for your event. They know how to read a crowd and play the right music to get everyone in the mood to party.
Club Disk Jockeys
A club DJ is responsible for creating the right atmosphere and keeping the party going all night long. It is a big responsibility. However, it is also a lot of fun. Of course, being a club DJ takes more than just a love of music to be successful. Club DJs also need to understand how to mix music, read a crowd, and keep the energy level up throughout the night.
Cream of the Crop: The Best DJs
Fantastic DJs exist, but some rise to the top of the pack. These DJs know how to get a crowd or an audience moving and keep them entertained.
Casey Kasem is radio royalty. Kasem was best known for hosting the nationally syndicated Top 40 countdown show American Top 40 from 1970 until 2009. He was also the voice of many characters in Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
But Kasem’s work as a radio personality separates him from the pack. As host of American Top 40 for almost 40 years, Kasem had the catbird seat on the American zeitgeist of popular music.
Kasem retired from radio in 2009, but his legacy continues through his many recordings and contributions to the medium. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1992 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1999. He passed away in 2014 at the age of 82.
In the early 1960s, Wolfman Jack worked as a DJ at a small radio station in Shreveport, Louisiana. “The Wolfman Jack Show” featured R&B, rock and roll, and country music.
In 1964, Jack moved to Mexico and began working at a radio station there. His show became popular with American listeners who could pick it up on their shortwave radios.
In the early 1970s, Jack moved back to the United States and began working at a radio station in Los Angeles. His show became even more popular, and he soon became one of the most famous radio DJs in the country.
Jack’s personality also lent well to television and movies, where he became the host of NBC’s “The Midnight Special” and appeared in George Lucas’ American Graffiti.
Howard Stern is a breed of radio host called a “shock jock.” Shock jocks are known for being controversial or iconoclastic. Stern has parlayed his persona into his popular radio show The Howard Stern Show, syndicated on SiriusXM Radio. Stern has broadcast on terrestrial radio stations in the United States and Canada.
Stern began his radio career in college, working at various radio stations in Boston and Hartford, Connecticut. He gained recognition in the 1970s with his on-air personality and interviews with celebrities on the radio show Long Island Landmark. Stern's show became nationally syndicated in 1981, and he became the highest-paid radio personality in 1992.
In 2006, Stern signed a five-year contract with SiriusXM Radio, which was estimated to be worth $500 million. He has continued to host his show on SiriusXM Radio since.
Stern has been awarded multiple honors for his radio career, including the Billboard Award for air personality of the year in 1992 and 1993, and the Marconi Award for lifetime achievement in radio in 1999. He has also been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Skrillex first gained attention in the music industry for his debut album, My Name Is Skrillex, in 2010. The album reached number one on the Beatport charts. Since then, Skrillex has released several successful singles and albums, including Bangarang and Recess.
Skrillex is one of the most popular DJs and has headlined many major music festivals, including Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Ultra Music Festival. He has won a total of eight Grammy Awards and is one of the most influential electronic musicians of the 21st century.
In the early 1950s, Alan Freed was one of the first radio broadcasters to play rock and roll music. He quickly became known as the “King of Rock and Roll” and helped to popularize the new genre. Freed also played a sizable role in breaking down racial barriers in the music industry.
Freed began his radio career in the early 1940s working at small stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In 1951, he was hired by WJW in Cleveland, Ohio. It was there that Freed first started playing rock and roll music on the air.
Freed was one of the first radio broadcasters to play music by black artists regularly. Freed's show was extremely popular with both black and white audiences. In 1955, he helped to organize the first rock and roll concert, which featured black and white performers.
Freed's career abruptly ended in 1962 when he was indicted on charges of payola. He was found guilty and lost his radio license. Freed died in 1965, but his legacy as one of the pioneers of rock and roll music lives on. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Deadmau5 is a Canadian electronic music producer and DJ. He is known for his unique style of music, which often incorporates elements of house, techno, and trance.
Deadmau5 first gained popularity in the early 2000s, when he released a series of popular tracks and remixes. He has since released six studio albums, a live album, and a compilation album. In addition to his music, Deadmau5 has also produced tracks for other artists, including Kaskade, Wolfgang Gartner, and Skrillex.
Deadmau5 is one of the most successful electronic music producers of all time, with a net worth of over $40 million. He has won numerous awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording, and he has been nominated for several others. Deadmau5 is also a popular live performer, and he has headlined some of the biggest music festivals in the world, including Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland.
Paul Oakenfold is a British record producer voted the No. 1 DJ in the World. He was voted this two times; first in 1998, and then again in 1999. This was voted by DJ Magazine.
Oakenfold's career began in the late 1980s when he started working as a DJ in London nightclubs. He helped popularize the acid house sound in the UK and was soon signed by a major record label. His debut album, Paul Oakenfold: Live in Ibiza, was released in 1994 and featured a mix of trance and acid house tracks.
Oakenfold's career reached new heights in the late 1990s when he produced the soundtrack for the film The Matrix. He also worked on soundtracks for movies such as Swordfish and Collateral. In 2002, he released his second album, Bunkka, which featured a more downtempo and ambient sound.
Oakenfold released albums and mix compilations throughout the 2000s and 2010s. He has also toured extensively, performing at nightclubs and music festivals in nearly every corner of the globe.
The Disc Jockey: A History Lesson
The first known use of the term “disc jockey” was in a newspaper article from the 1920s. The term became popular in the 1930s when radio stations hired DJs to play music and talk on the air.
Radio disc jockeys were some of the most popular personalities on the airwaves. They played the latest hits and interacted with listeners, often giving them dedications and shout-outs. Some of the most famous DJs of the era included Alan Freed, Wolfman Jack, and Casey Kasem.
DJs became even more popular in the 1940s and 1950s when they started playing music on record players in nightclubs and other venues.
The 80s and 90s brought forth a new type of DJ: the “shock jock” – a pejorative term meant to express that these types of DJs exist merely to drum up controversy.
Today, DJs are in clubs, radio stations, weddings, and other events. They continue to evolve, using new technologies to create innovative and exciting sounds.
What Does A Disc Jockey Do? Final Thoughts
It is difficult to underestimate the importance of disc jockeys and their influence on the music industry over the decades. From creating new stars to helping keep party-goers entertained, an experienced DJ has the unique ability to generate enthusiasm on the air and in the clubs.
While radio DJs are becoming less influential due to the changing media landscape, the club and event DJ continues to thrive. After all, every party needs someone who can create fun through the power of music.