January 20 – National Disc Jockey Day

Posted on January 20, 2015

A very famous disc jockey died on this date in 1965.

A disc jockey is someone who introduces and plays recorded music on the radio or at a party, club, or dance hall.

Alan Freed, who was known as Moondog, promoted a mix of popular music on the radio in the United States and Europe. We're talking blues, country music, and rhythm and blues. He called it...rock and roll!

Yep, he introduced the phrase rock'n'roll to the world, and that's why he is called the Father of Rock'n'Roll. He also helped to integrate the music world by presenting on his radio shows music made by black artists rather than cover versions by white bands. His live concerts were attended by racially mixed audiences...something remarkable in the U.S.

Freed's legacy was somewhat marred by the end of his career, because he had accepted “payola” – payments from record companies to play their songs on the radio. Payola wasn't illegal when Freed accepted it—but many people thought it was wrong, and shortly after Freed lost his radio and TV shows, payola was made illegal.

Still, there are lots of honors heaped upon Alan Freed. After his death, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which is located in his longtime home of Cleveland to honor him), and also into the National Radio Hall of Fame; he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Trustees Award at the Grammys. The name Moondog comes up once in a while in homage to Freed—for example, the mascot of Cleveland's pro-basketball team is Moondog—and Freed is mentioned in many songs. Rock and roll songs, of course!

Rock music today is, of course, huge and diverse.
But I thought these two pictures show a bit of the
span from rock in Freed's time, above, to nowadays,

Do you want to be a disc jockey?

Nowadays a DJ can be someone who, like Freed so long ago, introduces and plays and talks about music on the radio...OR a DJ can be someone who mixes recorded music for a party, club, or rave. A club DJ may work with (in the words of Beck) “two turntables and a microphone” - and a mobile DJ travels with a portable sound system. Some DJs are considered performers because they add percussion using turntable scratching or produce new music using turntablism and sampling.

Check out how to become a party or performing DJ 
here, and how to become a radio DJ here.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the first game of basketball

Plan ahead:

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