Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - Northern Michigan DJ Services


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all their internet needs. Also brought to you by Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen. 
DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the telephone is Paul Widlund of Northern Michigan DJ Service. Good morning, Paul, welcome to the program.
PAUL: Good morning, Damien. Good to be with you.
DAMIEN: It’s a pleasure to have you with us today, sir. Hope you’re doing well.
PAUL: It’s a beautiful day. Any day I wake up and I’m not dead it’s a beautiful day!
DAMIEN: In deed. Any day on the top side of the lawn is a good day in deed.
PAUL: Absolutely.
DAMIEN: So where is Northern Michigan DJ Services located, and how did you get started in the business of being a DJ, Paul?
PAUL: Well, ok, there’s about 2 or 3 questions there, and I’ll try to attack them as I can. I got started in the business way back in Southeast Colorado, a place called Nahunta, Colorado, where I was engineering a radio station there. Actually I was an assistant manager of the radio station, and it just looked like a good thing to do. As 1977 came along, the Saturday Night Fever thing was really, really hot, and I got into the business and nobody else was doing mobile music in that area, and we called it Disco Dynamite and it was really popular. We did really well from the very get-go. About a year and a half after that, disco was dead, I mean dead. So we ran a contest, renamed the business Music Unlimited, and we ran under that name for a lot of years and did quite well and then moved to Michigan about 20 years ago, and I had to come up with a new name so I called it BDJ which stood for Budget DJs, no longer budget and that is no longer useful so now we call it which tells us what we do, where we are, and how to contact us. Now your other question…where are we located? Traverse City is basically what I say is our place of business, and that’s what I put on our website is Traverse City. Don’t tell anyone, but I actually live in Buckley, Michigan, which is kind of the low rent district for low income folks like DJs. It works out quite well, because it’s just beautiful out here where we live.
DAMIEN: In deed it is a fine southern suburb of the outward sprawling Traverse City.
PAUL: Yeah. That’s a good way to put it. It is.
DAMIEN: You primarily do weddings, why?
PAUL: Well weddings are what we specialize, but we do other things. I’ve done bar gigs for years, I do Karaoke, I’ve been actively doing Karaoke for almost 20 years and still do, but the weddings are what we really specialize in. I run the business full time. I’ve had numerous DJs come through my company, and several of them go onto form their own DJ companies and do quite well with them, but it’s just something we take a lot of pride in. It’s where the intensity of the business is as far as I’m concerned. The wedding customers, of course, it’s a one time only thing with a wedding customer so you have only one chance to get it right, and we try to get it right every time we do that. Our customers seem to think that, for the most part, we do get it right for them, and they do recommend us to a lot of other couples who are getting married.
DAMIEN: What makes Northern Michigan DJ Services’ production so unique?
PAUL: I think the fact that we are very, to be honest with you, I’m a kind of a perfectionist. Never achieve it, but I shoot for it. We just try to do everything as well as we possibly can financially and intellectually. We buy the best possible equipment we can. We try to stay state of the art with the audio and lighting equipment. All of that kind of thing, plus we are very, very service oriented, very customer oriented. We make it real easy to plan with our customers, our brides and our grooms. We use a real simple two page flow chart planner for them to plan the sequence of events in their wedding. It gives them tremendous flexibility to do exactly what they want to do. We also send out a music list for them to go through and select songs; about 3,000 songs on that list. Even though we have probably 30,000 – 40,000 songs on our computers, but that makes it just so handy and so easy for them, and I work with them. I have other DJs that DJ weddings with me and for me, but I do all the planning with the customers. So we make sure that every “I” is dotted and every “T” is crossed before we even get into the wedding day.
DAMIEN: So with 3 decades into this, now, and so many trends in music, so many different fads and tastes have come through, you mentioned disco earlier on, and starting in 1977 and by 1978-1979 disco was gone…
PAUL: Oh, it was, yeah.
DAMIEN: You’re looking at now with weddings depending on the age group, there could be a large list of tastes and song choices that people want, what are you finding most people, what type of music, is most people wanting at weddings, and at 30,000 songs, I’m sure you are probably to provide that.
PAUL: Oh, you know what, today they’re wanting, you wouldn’t believe it. They are wanting a little bit…they are wanting all kinds of music. We’re coming up with music every year. Songs that I have never heard of, and I have probably 100,000 song titles in my brain if I could find them. We primarily have the old standards that they are always going to play, “Old Time Rock and Roll”, “Celebration”, “Get Down Tonight”, “Unchained Melody”, all of these kinds of things that are going to be played at almost every event that we do, but then they are also coming in with a lot of different kinds of music that I’ve never heard of, but we get it. We can go on Amazon and download it if we don’t have it, and we do our best to get every song that is useable that they want, and we do advise them if it if it’s not useable, in other words, if there is a song that I detect that I say, “Hey, nobody is going to dance to this song.” I tell them. I say, “Do you really want to use this song?” And we negotiate that.
DAMIEN: The age old question, it’s time for your wedding, you’re having your reception, DJ or Band? Why shouldn’t we just hire a band, Paul?
PAUL: You know what, bands are lovely, and they are wonderful, and I know some bands that are terrific, but there is a lot of music they can’t play. A lot of the new hip hop music, the music that comes in that’s popular for 2 or 3 weeks and then it’s gone. A band doesn’t have the technology to manufacture these songs the way they can be produced in a studio. They just can’t do that, and they don’t have time to learn all these new songs that come and go in a flash, and in defense of some of the bands…I know some great wedding bands that actually play some of the music that they can’t play during their breaks like from an IPod or something like that. So we work well with bands. I’ve got a lot of band musicians that are friends of mine. When their customer wants a DJ, they send them to me. When I get a customer that wants a band, I send that customer to the band. There was a time when the band said, “Oh, DJs are a bunch of bums, you know, and the DJ says why in the heck would hire a band? We can play…” I don’t believe that. I believe bands are wonderful. I love to dance to live music. I love it, but you can’t always have it. For one thing, some times you can’t afford what the bands need, you know, to do the event. I mean, you just can’t put out that kind of money to have a really good band. So a DJ can come in and do the job at a reasonable cost and some people can’t afford the band, and I want them to have the best that is in the area, because that band is going to send business back to me.
DAMIEN: In deed. Do you have other DJ’s working with you at all times, you know, multiple events? Do you have a staff that you can send out?
PAUL: Yes I do. I have at any given time 3 – 4 DJs or up to 5 that I can pull from, and I train them all. They are all good or they wouldn’t be associated with the company.
DAMIEN: How soon should a couple book  a DJ for their big event, Paul?
PAUL: That’s a really an interesting question. It depends on the availability of the entertainer. I really like to have a minimum of 3 weeks notice so we can do the planning properly, but many of our couples are booking now for next year. I’m booking couples right now for August, September of next year, for May, June. We are doing that right now, and there are going to be certain dates that I book up so many events on a date and say, “Ok, the books are closed on that date.”   So it’s just supply and demand basically.
DAMIEN: Does Northern Michigan DJ Service provide other services besides the wedding DJ, the party DJ, and the Karaoke?
PAUL: Well occasionally we will do sound for a band. Perhaps a charity event or so forth and a band wants to come in. We may go in and we may do a Karaoke show, but then we will also provide our sound system for the band to use, or we may from time to time provide the sound for the ceremony for weddings also.
DAMIEN: Well 30 years into this, you’ve seen lots of trends come and go, you’ve seen lots of different types of music, what’s your favorite type of music, Paul, and what do you find
rewarding about being a DJ?
PAUL: What’s so rewarding about it? I spent many years as a radio DJ looking at a wall and a clock on the wall. It’s a lot nicer. It’s a lot more fun, a lot more exciting to look at the people you’re playing the music for and see their smiles, to see them having fun dancing and really enjoying what you do. I have so many…I like so many kinds of music. I don’t really have a favorite. I like just about everything. I like country music, I like pop, I like top 40, you know, on and on and on. I like so much music if it’s good. I do not like the music, a lot of it that is being produced today that is being over, over processed. It has no dynamic range and they just cram as much noise into a particular 2 or 3 minute piece of audio as they can, but I don’t dig that too much because some of that is just not pleasing to the ear. But then I’m old school.
DAMIEN: I have to agree with you. There is a certain thing that is being the new trend is auto-tune.
PAUL: Oh yes. Oh yes.
DAMIEN: One more song with auto-tune, and I swear I’m moving to a place that has no music whatsoever.
PAUL: If they sound bad to the ears, it fixes them.
DAMIEN: Right.
PAUL: Yeah, if I had auto-tune on my Karaoke shows, everyone would sound like a pro.
DAMIEN: That would take all the fun out of it, though.
PAUL: It would take the fun out of it. It wouldn’t be natural. It just wouldn’t be right. I’d rather hear music as it was done live.
DAMIEN: If someone wants more information about Northern Michigan DJ Service, how do they get a hold of you, Paul, what is the website and contact information?
PAUL: It’s so, so easy. That’s all they need to know. Just go to, links to the telephone number, links to my email, they’re right there. 
DAMIEN: We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today, Paul.
PAUL: Thank you, Damien. That was great of you to call.
DAMIEN:  We’ve been speaking with Paul Widlund of Northern Michigan DJ Services, Traverse City, Michigan. You have been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, everybody have a great afternoon.  
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