I feel that I need to take a break from that and talk about my experiences as a Christian Radio Disc Jockey and concert promoter. I have had many people tell me that I should write a book about my life as a DJ and promoter. I really didn’t think that would sale very well by its self. Since this book is also about my life I will talk about my amazing, once in a life time experiences. Let me take you back to the summer of 1998. My close friend Jason invited me to go to his church youth group called Oneighty. I thought to myself it wouldn’t hurt to return to a youth group. When I arrived I walked into the building and saw something that I had never seen before. It was a whole church building concerted into a youth group church. It was amazing.
It felt like being in an Applebee’s or Chili’s but in a church setting. The walls had all kinds of random stuff on it. Then we went into the main room which was the sanctuary. There were video games, a basketball cage, a stage and a sound booth. I felt like I was in a dream. Jason introduced me to the person that got me into the music scene. His name was Ron. He was the assistant youth pastor but he also was a drummer and worked for a concert promotion team. I slowly worked my way into running the board and projecting the lyrics during praise and worship. Because Ron was well known in OKC he was able to pick up some smaller tours and host them at the youth center. So I became Ron’s side kick and learned the tricks of the trade. The first show that I was a part of was an off date for the Extreme Days movie promotion tour.
We hosted Bean Bag, KJ-52 and the Manna Skate Team. Right before the tour hit Ron asked me if my parents would not mind letting the skate team stay the night at our house. So I talked it over with my family and they were ok with it. So we promoted the heck out of the concert and then it was game day. The tour rolled in and I was excited. This was the first tour I had ever worked with as a staff member so I was stoked. After Ron got to talking to the Manna Skate team he found out that they didn’t need a place to stay after all. Then he asked me if it was ok for KJ-52, his wife and MC to stay the night at my house. I had to check to see if I needed new pants after that. So they ended up staying at my house. It was awesome. They had breakfast with my mom and dad and then we went to church together. Can you believe that? I loved KJ and this was when he had just released his first album.
After that tour I worked a few tours with Ron and I also felt that I wanted to connect with local artists and try to help them with promotion. I got to know a lot of bands such as Eternal Decision, Sub Seven and my favorite Gears of Redemption just to name a few. I sent e mails out on my Web TV to local artists. Yeah I said WebTV. If you do not know what that is feel free to Google it. I was working graveyard at Wal-Mart so I loved to sleep in. I got home one morning and went to sleep. Then around 930 AM my phone rang and it woke me up. I was upset and I answered the phone with a upset groggy tone in my voice and said hello. The voice on the like said hello my name is Kael and I am with the band Pillar.
I instantly woke up like I had just had a pot of coffee. I was shocked because they had just moved to Tulsa because they were signed to Flicker Records and wanted to be close to their management. I had known about them before they were signed because of Ron. I had their demo and everything. Well they wanted to set up a show in Yukon and wanted to know if I would host it. I told him I would love to and I would talk to my church. I went to Ron with this and he was stoked. SO I sent Kael the deposit for the tour and let Ron handle the business part of it. His band was opening for the show along with Radial Angel so I was going to be the venue manager. I was only 18 and it was my first time to run a show. It was a great experience.
Before and after this show I had the opportunity to hang out with a lot of bands. Even with some of my favorite bands such as Pillar, Spoken, Disciple, Bean Bag and East West. Along with this amazing experience was doing what many in life cannot say that had done. I achieved my goal after high school which was to be a DJ at the Christian radio station KOKF 91 FM in Oklahoma City. I remember in school when my teacher asked all of us what we wanted to do that was my answer. I did not have any plans to go to college. Well my senior year at Yukon High School 91FM was advertising that they were looking for volunteers to help out at the station. So I applied and about a week later I received a phone call from the station. I set up a interview to come in and talk to the staff. I was so excited. I remember it like it was yesterday,
It was a Wednesday afternoon interview. I had to get done with it and rush to church. I arrived at the station and walked up to the door and rang the buzzer. Then someone opened the door and let me in. They welcomed me and asked me to sit in the waiting room. I sat down and there was one other guy in the room waiting for a interview. He asked me what kind of station it was. I told him it was a Christian radio station. He was shocked. He asked because he had never heard of any of the artist’s radio plaques. I mean there were Jennifer Knapp, DC Talk and Audio Adrenaline on the walls. Who didn’t know who these artists were? Well he had experience at other mainstream stations and was just looking to get another spot on his resume. He cussed a few times then he apologized. I told him I didn’t care but he should refrain from using it during the interview.
Then they called him into the interview and I waited in the room. I was star struck because of all the music posters and such on the walls. Then a few minutes later the door opens and they invite me back into the main part of the station. I was so blown away to be in the station. I walked by Vern Marks’ office and he waived at me. He was blaring Gospel Gangstas and the other interviewer asked him who it was. He said that he had never heard Christian music like that. Then I went in and had my interview and told them about what I did at Oneighty and that I wanted to work my way up to become a staff member someday. They told me that they were going to choose one person out of four people to be their new volunteer and that they would contact me soon to let me know what their decision was.
So I went out to my truck and I was so excited. I get into my truck and doesn’t start. I was so beside myself because I needed to get to church. I was asking myself why this happening to me. I did not want to make a bad impression and go ask to use their phone to call my dad. This is when cell phones were just getting out into the public and they were hard to come by. It was a good thing I didn’t have one because the guy came out from his interview and he asked me what the name of the rap group was that was playing in the station and I told him. He asked where he could get their music and I told him Mardel or Family Christian Stores. Then It dawned on my that I had one of their albums in my truck. So I gave it to him and he was blown away that I would give him a CD. He said thank you and he went on his way. Now I had to suck up my pride and go ask to use the phone.
So I walk up to the radio station and pushed the buzzer. The person that did my interview answered the door. I told her what had happened and I asked if I could use the phone. She was very nice and let me back into the radio station. As we were walking back to the kitchen to use the phone she said that it was funny that I was there because they had decided to bring me on as an office volunteer. I know I had to be grinning from ear to ear. I contacted my dad and came by and helped me get my truck running. So from that day I worked my way up from working in the office to learning how to operate the on air studio board. That was all fun and games until one day I was running the board and there were school closings because of a snow storm. I was feeling in for a DJ that day. I asked Vern if he wanted me to give it a shot and go live on the air to announce the school closings. He said it was my time to give it a try. So I did. I worked up my confidence and faded out the song at the end of the track and punched the on air button and started to talk.
Hit music radio 91 FM. That was so and so artist. There are some school closings in the Oklahoma City area and I rattled them off. Then I ended to segment and went back to the music. While I was talking I had never in my life felt so nervous. I know I had a hard time catching my breath and my legs were shaking. When I got off the air I could hear Vern in the production yelling yeah boy! I was feel if adrenaline and felt like I could take on the world. That was one of my favorite times in life being a DJ. I went on to become a DJ on the overnight metal show Nitetime 91 which played bands like Zao, Living Sacrifice, Klank and Demon Hunter. This is funny because Jason had been trying to get me to like metal and I told him it was not my thing and I ended up loving it.
While my time at the radio station I get to meet a lot of amazing people. One of them that I am still friends with is DJ Matt Lindsey. He is the owner of Overtone Media based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. When we were at the radio station he brought in many tours with Overtone and had 91FM as the promotional tool and backing staff for the events. So I was able to learn a lot from him by working on staff during concerts. Out of all of the bands we brought in Five Iron Frenzy was by far my favorite to work with. I love these guys. No matter what kind of day I am having I can listen to some FIF and my day changes for the better. There was one tour that we hosted them along with Reliant K, John Ruben and Ace Troubleshooter. I will never forget that show. Members of Reliant K almost didn’t make the show because they were sent to the OKC police department because they had somehow found a body around a bus in Downtown OKC.
I guess the only other artist I would like to talk about is the amazing TobyMac. If you don’t know his name you may know the group he was with. He was the hip hop section for DC Talk. He is one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet. Every time I have had a chance to work with him he was always down to earth and would even chat with me for a few minutes. There is however some artists that I have had opposite reactions to but out of respect I will not throw names out in this book. I do understand that artists have demands and tour life can be rough on people. Now my post DJ experiences have been amazing too. I have been able to see KJ 52 again in Oregon. It was awesome because it was with Disciple, Superchick and a few others. I worked Disciples table and broke a record for most albums sold before the show started. One of the wife’s had to go get more CDs from the van. It pays to have a long time fan working for you.
Well after KJ’s set he came out and did autographs. Since I was working at a table I was close to his and someone game me a break to go meet up with him. So I waited in line with my friend Josh and when we got to him I said hey KJ. Do you remember me? He looked at me and said you do look familiar. I told him I was from Oklahoma City and I worked for 91FM. He then reacted in shock and said yes I remember I stayed at your house and had breakfast with your family. I was so stoked that he remembered me from almost ten years ago. We talked about the radio station and about how it was sold to Air 1. I then told him I didn’t want to keep his fans waiting so I would see him next time. He said no they can wait you have up your room for me and my wife to sleep in. I was embraced because the kid next to us heard what he said. I felt very important because he had said that. I was blessed in that moment.
The last artist I am going to end this chapter with is the amazing Brian Head Welch. I was looking on Myspace one day and found a group of people in the Chicago area that healed metal crusades. I am talking about events like Billy Graham crusades but with metal bands performing. This is the kind of stuff I wanted to jump start but didn’t know how to. So I got a wild hair and send them a message telling them I wanted to do events like they were. I even told them that if they ever wanted to come to Oregon that I would love to host them. I never expected a response but guess what. They ended up wanting to come out to little old Klamath Falls. When they told me that they contracted Brian Head Welch I was blown away. So I started hunting down a band I loved that regrouped in California called Fasedown which has members from Deliverance, The Crucified and Overcome.
So from this event I was able to see Fasedown and Brian Head Welch. One of my favorite events of all time because I got to hang out with Brian Head Welch, help witness to the metal scene in Klamath Falls and unite people. My good friend Haywood went to school with Brian Head Welch in California and they reunited like it was old times. The next time Welch came through Oregon my friend Haywood got to hang out with him there too. Out of all of the things that went on that day I heard something that to this day burns inside me. I had three different people come up to me and said that if church was more like this I would go. Two of the people were not even Christian to my knowledge. I am starting to wonder if writing this book is one of the way I would be able to jump start a ministry like that. I feel that I am to take everything I have learned over the years and start speaking at events and who knows maybe start up my own underground evangelist ministry right here in Charlotte, North Carolina in Billy Graham territory. Wouldn’t that be a culture shock? A Latter Day Saint Mormon holding Metal conferences in the Bible belt.