The “Vintage” DJ

October 17, 2016 by Mike Ryan

Wirginia Szmyt is a DJ. She plays salsa, rumba and disco for seniors in Warsaw, Poland. At 77 years old she has been considered by many to be the oldest DJ alive. Not anymore: DJ Robert Wilson of Phoenix, Arizona is 82 years old! And not only is he older, this “vintage” DJ does between 75 and 90 events a year for all age groups. The following interview with Wilson should encourage any DJ who thinks they’re past their prime to hang in there.174-26-27

Mike Ryan: How long have you been DJing and what was your “real” job before you started spinning tunes?

Robert Wilson: I was a trainman in Canada for the Canadian National Railway and the British Columbia Railway, and after moving to California in 1965, I worked in man- agement and sales until I retired at 65—and went full time building my DJ business. In 2001, my wife Phyllis and I moved from California to Sun City, Arizona and started all over.

My initial interest in music came from my father who played saxophone in a band. I also have a nephew, Ward Wilson, who is a well known club DJ in Vancouver. He was a DJ before I was. My first “gig” was in my mid-50s in White Rock, BC. At the time, I didn’t even know what “gig” meant. My cousin wanted some music for her wedding reception so I brought in a 33 rpm record player and played some big band swing music. In 1993, after moving to San Diego, I was asked to play music for a singles groups. One of the members asked me to do their wedding and I said “yes,” not knowing a thing about weddings. Luckily, two of the family members coached me and we had a great time. That was my first paying DJ job, a whole $100!!

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Mike Ryan Mike Ryan (26 Posts)

Mike Ryan spins at the Corvette Diner in San Diego. He also invented the Air-Powered speaker stand the FRANKENSTAND. He is a 20-year veteran of radio, and served on ADJA and NACE boards.

Filed Under: 2016, Playlists, Songs & Music Charts