Dayton Daily News
DJ Skno’s musicalmix shows thrive virtually
The Patterson and Central State grad, who has been a radio and club DJ, takes it online.
While hewas already producing online content before the coronavirus shutdowns in March, spinning records virtually has become a larger focus forDJSkno as the pandemic rages on. Hecurrently hosts two onlinemusic programsonthevideostreaming platform Periscope. “Power In Praise Gospel Mixshow” airs at 3 p.m. Sundays. “The Thunderstorm Slow Jamz Mixshow” airs 7 p.m. Thursdays and features old school, and some contemporary, R&B.
The Dayton native, 53, was an integral part of Dayton’s hip- hop scene starting in the 1990s, spinning records on the radio and in clubs. However, in late 2019, the former member of rap groups TOOMB and 275 turned his back on the music in favor of gospel and R&B. In many ways, it was a return to his roots.
As the son of a strict preacher, Skno andhis seven siblingswere unable to play organized sports growingup. He played trumpet in concert band but couldn’t participate in marching band. Secular music was prohibited in Reverend Jordan’s house, but Skno admits he indulged his love of hip-hop and R&B in the safety of his bedroom, listening onthe sly to local stations likeWDAO, when it broadcast at 107.7FM, and WBLZ-FM (103.5).
Skno started his disc jockey career on WDPS-FM (89.5) while attending Patterson Co-Op High School. He soon began learning to scratch like the DJs on rap songs. After ruining the needle on the record player of the family’s console stereo practicing with his father’s gospel LPs, the teenager investedhismoneyinaRadio Shack mixer and pair of mismatched turntables.
Skno graduated fromPatterson Co- Op in 1985 and transitioned to college radio while earning a degree in broadcasting from Central State University. He went on to work professionally in local radio at bothWBTTFM ( 94.5) and WROU- FM (92.1). He later worked special projects for WDHT-FM (102.9) and was a host and program director for the CORE DJs on SiriusXM.
Skno recently answered some questions about his musical exploits.
How has pandemic life been?
It’s totally different than it normally is. Iwas still physically going to church on the days I didn’t have to work my regular job. Now that theCOVID situation has happened, we’ve basically been watching our church services through the Internet.
Have you been working?
Yes, I’m an essential worker so I’ve been workingmy regular job. As far as DJing, I’m still working but we’re doing it online. I like it better because I actually get to interact with the people watching the program more than I would in person. What I like about FacebookandPeriscope is people will tell you where they’re located. WhenI see the messages, I can talk back. People feel kind of specialwhen you give them a shout-out. Most of the stuff Iwas doing beforewas on Facebook but for about a year, I’ve been using Periscope.
How is Periscope going?
It’s good but I have amuch broader audience on Facebook than I do on Periscope. Getting people to come over to Periscope is the thing. They’re coming over slowly but people can do everything on Facebook: chat to their families, watch videos and listen to music. There are more people you know on Facebook and theywonder why they’re going over to Periscope when the only thing they’re doing is listening to you. They’re still chatting but they can’t do all of their other stuff while they’re doing it.
When did you stop spinning hip-hop?
December 5, 2019 — my birthday. I actually got saved two-and-a-half years ago. I was DJing on SiriusXM but we didn’t play cleanmusic. I was working with the station and playing what they wantedmeto play but it kept bothering me. I made the choice to do the grown man thing and let it go. Themusic has changed and radio is definitely not the same. Whatever crazy song is out there that the kids like, they’re going to keep playing that song over and over again.
What can you tell me about “Power In Praise”?
The mix showis definitely gospelandit’s something I’ve been thinking of for years. I’m in the church. I’m fully a Christian in faith. I don’t DJ in clubs and I don’t partake in anyof theworldly stuff like
I used to. The only time I’d DJ in a club is if we did old school. I’m not doing any of this … uh … I don’t even know what you’d call this music now. I just can’t get withmusic that’s degrading everyoneandtellingyouhow to kill yourself and use drugs and destroy other people.
Howdid you originally go from radio DJ to club DJ?
I basically turned into a rebel in high school. In 1983, I started going against my parents and I’d sneak out at night and go seeMark Jones DJ at clubs like Graffiti’s. He was also known as the Hustler and he was one of the people from the city that inspired me to DJ. He had several spots he used to DJ — the Palladium, Zeons, Fat Daddy’s and Mr. J’s — and I’d go to all of them.
What was he playing?
He played hip-hop, mostly, andsomeR&B, andhewould scratch and mix. If there were other people in town doing that, Ididn’tknowwho theywere. As far as localDJs, Mark Jones is the one I credit for a lot of the stuff I learned. I don’t really DJ the regular way a lot of DJs do with a fader and stuff. Because I was sneaking to learn how to DJ, I taughtmyself to use the up and down. I use the fader but not the same way a lot of DJs do but I’ll sound like them. AndI still use turntables to this day.
Speakingof liveDJing, how did the COVID shutdown impact your schedule?
As far as me, DJing in person, that definitely hasn’t happened. Iwon’t be doing it. All ofmy DJing has been online. There were several festivals I normally DJ’d so that has been different. I’m sad I can’t do theReggae Festival again this year. I normally do the African-AmericanWellnessWalk and the July 4 Fireworks Festival and I couldn’t do them this year. It’s been different as far that goes so, I’m really looking forward to life getting back to normal.
More info: facebook.com/ djskno.