DJ Rated R: Wilmington's #1 Radio DJ
by Gentle Jones
DJ Rated R is a 26 year veteran of the turntable game and one of Wilmington’s most listened to radio jocks. From spinning at high school parties and WVUD college radio to commercial radio success and national syndication, Rated R has accomplished what many DJ’s only dream of. After a brief hiatus last year Rated R has triumphantly returned to the Wilmington airwaves at KISS 101.7 FM. With an artist’s ear for records and the ability to blend on the fly, Rated R has been keeping Delaware airwaves fresh for over a decade with his technical wizardry.
I remember in the 1990’s when you spun at WVUD, how did you make the transition from college radio?
College radio was the preparing period for commercial radio, as the concept of what makes a good mix show DJ starts early in a jocks career. The things that you do to grab your audience, you take those concepts and transfer those things you already know and take them to the airwaves commercially. The finesse of a DJ is what will set him apart from any other DJ on the competition stations.
So who are you spinning for currently?
I am spinning for 3 radio stations currently. Wilmington’s WJKS KISS 101.7 FM at 6pm Monday through Friday, and Saturday night 7pm until 2am. WOCQ OC 104 in Ocean City, MD the 5 o'clock drive mix Monday through Friday and WESE 92.5 Jamz in Tupelo, MS All-star Mix show from 8pm until Midnight. As well as doing these stations, I also had the opportunity to be nationally syndicated through an Access.1 company called Superadio which issues mixes to 250 to 300 stations across the country. I have been syndicated since 2001. The time slots can vary with Superadio according to the market.
What size is the Delaware radio market?
In comparison to other markets we fall in around market 75. We have anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people listening at any given time, all according to the timeslot.
What does it mean to be syndicated?
Basically syndication for mix show DJ's is producing a mix whether it be 2 or 4 hours and sending the mix in to the central office where the mix is duplicated and shipped to the affiliate stations and aired usually the following week of submission. In producing the mix a cue sheet has to be submitted as well listing all the songs played and timed out to the second so whatever station is airing the mix knows where they can insert the local station identification.
Were there any DJ's around here when you were younger that you looked up to?
I started getting noticed in the 90's so at that time, I really enjoyed listening to Don Mystic Mac, DJ Ran, Gary O, Jay-Ski, Jazzy Jeff has always been a favorite, Doc B, as we played on the same college station for a period he played on Tuesdays and I played on Mondays, DJ Breeze, I am sure that there were a lot of others but these guys were the ones I was checking for. I had an opportunity to spin on Power99 before and I had a quick stint with 103.9 which is now 100.3 the beat from 97-99 playing on their Mix Master weekends as well as I did a few clubs up in Philly with that station. Big Up to Mike Fox, he was the Program Director at the Beat at that time that gave me a shot when no one else did. DJ Ran was the DJ that gave me and some of the other DJ's from Delaware a chance to spin on Power 99. I came to KISS FM in September of 99, in which DJ Ran continued to Mentor me and give me advice, critique, and direction.
How are records classified for airplay and what mixture do you need to have for a successful show?
Well, records are classified at the station as “A's” which are your power rotation records, these records are the most requested and the ones you will probably hear the most. You have your “Power New” records that are buzzing really heavy and moving up the charts quickly. You have your “B's” which are medium rotation records you may hear these selections every 4 hours or so. Then you have your “Gold's” which are your old school R & B and Hip-Hop classics. Tony Q pretty much gives us free reign of how we play, as long as the songs exist on the stations playlist we have the permission to play them. I don't have a formula, I mix from feeling. I may play a “Power New” and then an “A” then go into a “Gold” but everything has to flow with me or I feel like the mix is just not a mix. I am not a “stop the record and play another” type of DJ I like smooth blends, and scratches that is how I do it in a party and that is how I was taught to always be smooth, accurate, and precise on delivery.
You were off the air at KISS for a minute, how did y’all get back in contact?
While taking a hiatus from radio I still stayed in contact with Mel, Big Ant, GQ, and Tony Q. So we kept rapport during my absence from the station but Tony left the door open for me to come back when I felt like I was ready.
How has your return to the airwaves in Wilmington been?
It has been a wonderful experience returning to the airwaves. Deejaying for me is like my daily escape from reality because when you touch the Technic 1200's and the music is loud the bass is banging and you are feeling it you seem to forget about all the daily woes that a person faces day in and day out. I definitely got a lot of love, some people didn't even know I was gone so that is good, too. When people remember your name and still deem you as a high level jock whether you are on the air or not gives you a good feeling of accomplishment.
How has Tony Q been treating you?
Tony is a good dude. He has so much knowledge to offer, when I first got on KISS I knew nothing about producing commercials, being an on air personality with a regular shift where I actually wasn't mixing but I was just on the mic. I knew nothing about the Arbitron ratings and what adjustments I needed to make in order to win, but in the 8 soon to be 9 years that I have been at KISS FM I can do just about anything asked of me in the station. Tony is willing to teach you just have to be willing to learn and show him that you want to do more than just what you are doing.
What do Delaware artists need to do to find airtime? Should they write songs specifically for your format?
Currently we have a feature for Delaware artists called the MP3 at 3 where an artist is featured every day and the listeners can call in and give feedback of whether they would download the song or delete it. They can submit their songs on our website at www.kiss1017.com, there is an icon there for the MP3 at 3 in which they can submit their song via email. I think artists do not need to write songs for the format as I feel good music is good music, period. However I feel artists need to strive to continue to make a sound that is theirs and not patterned around stuff that we are already hearing on the air. Sometimes different is better.
What do you think the Delaware music scene is lacking?
Venues. Places to go, and venues that truly have a love for Hip-Hop, not those ones just out there to make a quick dollar because that is what is popping right now. I think a lot of these promoters and club owners have a lack of respect for the DJ, they seem to think that getting Joe Schmoe to come and spin for 50 dollars is cool and it really isn't. DJ's make the party happen. When I used to go out, I didn't want to be at the club if the DJ wasn't hot, when we used to go to Philly and parties in the area, if Doc B, DJ Ran or Don Mac wasn't playing, we basically wasn't going to that event. When I was going out to parties we wanted to dance and at these guys parties you would come in the door partying and leave out partying with your feet hurting. Now that was a party, ya heard? But today promoters and club owners don't realize that certain DJ's carry a lot of weight, meaning their fan base is huge and where ever that DJ goes best believe his or her fan base will follow faithfully as well as when you get these DJ's they need to be paid what their worth not what you think they should get. Let's really think about here, you can open up your venue with drink specials and all that but have a wack DJ that knows nothing about what's hot and how to set a vibe in a club and watch your patrons go bye bye. This year makes 26 years I have been spinning I know sound reinforcement, I know how a sound system should sound when I come into a spot, I feel I know how to create a vibe in a club. As well as with all the new technology such as Serato, I have become like the technical guru on how to utilize the program to its fullest potential. A lot of the DJ's in the area and in all the areas I spin at always have a question for me like what should I buy, when comes to a laptop Mac or PC what type of hard drive should I get, how much memory should it have, etc. So no, I am not a dumb DJ I am a computer science major, I do Information Technology for a living and Deejaying is what I do at night. So don't get it twisted, what you think you know about me you really don't know. One more note that I truly feel needs to be stated. DJ's stop selling yourself short and undercutting, that is real lame, if you are that hard up to make a dollar than maybe you should look into another profession and leave this to the Big Boys. I see this all the time and if all the DJ's would just stand together and say ok, none of us is going to play anywhere unless these venues pay X amount of dollars that would change the tune of these venues but as long as they know if Rated R charges this I can go get DJ IPod for this much less, the same cycle will continue.
What’s the best thing about Delaware?
The best thing about Delaware to me is we have a melting pot of talent, from Emcees, to producers, to DJ's, to bands, you name it and someone here probably does it. But how can this area be so talented but constantly get overlooked? I have asked this for years and I still haven't figured it out yet.