When Can DJs Become MCs?

January 26, 2008 by Mike Walter

There is a moment, usually about two to four months after a new music mixer starts with us and has been assisting on weddings, when the time seems perfect to begin emcee training. I’ll try to be as exact in this article as possible but it is probably like trying to describe the moment when you fall in love. It’s not quite something you can be precise about . . .but you know it when it happens.The first step in the process is that we encourage our emcees to give us feedback on our new music mixers. The first thing we are looking for is quite simply which mixers are cutting it or even excelling and which ones aren’t and should be phased out. Professionalism and responsibility are key here. Have they been on time for every event? Do they call into the office every Monday like we ask them to? Are they available for any last minute events that come up? A “Yes” for all these questions puts you in the “stick around” column. A coupla “No’s” and your DJ career with Elite will be brief.

Besides professionalism and responsibility, we also want to know how this new mixer is “performing” at the events. After all, showing up is just the start of things, we want a great personality on the jobs too!

The “performance” feedback that we want to hear from our emcees is that not only is this person solid technically, hitting all their cues perfectly, paying attention behind the board etc, but also that they are enthusiastic at the event. Hopefully they are joining the emcee on the dance floor during the line dances and other appropriate times of the night. We also want to see them handing out our giveaways (hats, leis, etc) with a certain pizzazz rather than just passing them out like flyers on the street. Hand clapping, smiling, singing along, these are all good traits as well and something that shows me the person has emcee potential.

Another thing we look for in a new recruit is the eagerness to get more involved in the ancillary events at Elite. Do they attend our monthly meetings? Are they at some Bridal Shows to help hand out props? As an emcee they will have to do all these things to be successful so it’s a good sign when they get involved before it’s a requirement.

When we hear this feedback and see this behavior consistently we start “fast tracking” the mixer. This means he starts working more jobs (picking up those coveted Friday and Sunday events) and most of the events they work are with our veteran emcees. We encourage them to be a sponge at these gigs – soak in all the good stuff!

So what is the impetus to start training? What is that driving force, the stimulation or encouragement resulting in increased activity? Well, this is the secret that I learned years ago and I share it with you with the promise that you never tell any of my new recruits:

They have to ask for it.

I will start talking about emcee training and how cool it is and even how they are demonstrating all the right traits. I will literally dangle the carrot. But it is up to them, at some point, to say, “So how can I get into emcee training?”

The point is: I want them to want it.

Till next week . . .

Mike Walter’s emceeing career began in his hometown of Queens, New York in 1984. With an eye towards radio, Mike attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1988 where he was chosen from his class of 25 as “Most Likely to Succeed.” After school, Mike helped to develop a staff of DJs from 12 to over 50 by training new recruits and handling an increasingly complex schedule. In early 1993, Mike felt an increasing desire to venture out on his own and by March of that year he became a partner in a much smaller Mobile DJ company, Elite Entertainment. He quickly had an impact on the Elite staff, imposing his high standards of emceeing and DJing. Mike bought out his partner in 1998 and Elite Entertainment has continued its growth (21 emcees in 2006) and sets the standard for excellence in New Jersey. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and his message has helped show hundreds of DJs from across the country that it is possible to grow their companies without sacrificing quality.

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