Ipod: the New Wedding DJ
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.
Coming up, in a barnyard satire, the story of a totalitarian nightmare. It's the 60th anniversary of George Orwell's "Animal Farm."
First, technology to avert a bridal nightmare. The guy in the powder blue tux who hogs the mike at the reception, shouting out dumb jokes and whooping and hollering to the chorus of wedding standards like "Celebration." It's the infamous wedding deejay. Couples, tech-savvy especially, can now replace him with the wedding iPod. Derek John has the story.
DEREK JOHN reporting:
Chris and Megan Maroff's(ph) wedding last fall in Indiana was going exactly according to plan, and they were looking forward to the posh reception. But as they entered the banquet hall, something was amiss, and its source was a boisterous middle-aged man with two turntables and a mike in his hand.
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. CHRIS MAROFF: Our grand entrance to the reception was to...
Mrs. MEGAN MAROFF: The love theme.
Mr. MAROFF: ...the "Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire." And it was just the cheesiest song ever, and he makes this big announcement.
(Soundbite of recording)
Unidentified Man: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and give a big round of applause to the new Mr. and Mrs. Chris Maroff.
Mr. MAROFF: I almost ran out the door.
Mrs. MAROFF: That movie is a little bit before our time.
JOHN: But some things never go out of fashion. The cheesy deejay is as much a wedding tradition as the tossed bouquet or cutting of the cake. Yet today, a small but growing number of tech-savvy couples are bypassing that tradition and choosing alternatives like the ubiquitous iPod.
Mr. PETE BOSNIAK: We didn't want somebody to be, like, `And now the bride and groom for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Bosniak,' you know, and they're like, `Come on, what are you doing? Do a moonwalk out here,' you know, like--we didn't want that.
JOHN: Pete Bosniak and his wife Eden tied the knot two years ago in Philadelphia. Using iPod playlists, they had total control over their reception. Their first dance was to Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet." Bosniak wasn't sure that a wedding deejay would have it.
Mr. BOSNIAK: They probably just had the newer stuff from the '80s, like "I Just Called To Say I Love You" and stuff like that, which--you know, nothing against Stevie, but most artists in the '80s just kind of decided to suck. Your stereotypical wedding deejay is just going to play the wedding hits that aren't necessarily the music that we like.
JOHN: Talk like that has made some in the lucrative wedding deejay industry nervous. Alan Fields is co-author of the best-selling consumer guide, "Bridal Bargains." His book devotes an entire section to the iPod wedding, which he says lets couples put a personal stamp on their big day.
Mr. ALAN FIELDS (Co-author, "Bridal Bargains"): Couples today, when they get married, most of them are in their late 20s and early 30s and kind of get numb to the sort of standard wedding. They want to do something different; they want to try and personalize the wedding. And the iPod wedding is just another extension of that, where couples are trying to personalize the music.
JOHN: Money is also a huge factor. The average fee for a wedding deejay hovers around a thousand dollars for a five-hour reception. Meanwhile, an iPod that holds 1,500 songs retails for 200, and you can take it home with you. But Jim Tremayne, editor in chief of DJ Times, argues that a true wedding deejay is more than just a music machine.
Mr. JIM TREMAYNE (Editor in Chief, DJ Times): Being a deejay means playing the right music at the right time, entertaining a crowd. The range of services that a mobile deejay will offer, if they're good, will trump some guy who shows up with an iPod.
JOHN: Ironically, the road to the iPod wedding may have been paved by wedding deejays themselves. They were among the first to switch from vinyl to CDs. And the arrival of lightweight laptops full of MP3s was a godsend for deejays used to lugging around huge sound systems.
HARRIS(ph) (Deejay): For us, it was no stretch to move to new technology.
JOHN: That's veteran deejay Harris, part of the Pennsylvania duo Homan and Harris(ph). They were early adopters of the digital technology that made it easier and cheaper to do a gig. Not that deejays were suddenly charging lower prices. Harris remembers working a little harder to keep up appearances.
HARRIS: `Well, I just have this laptop. I'd better turn it into, like, a huge console, you know, with flashing lights and antennas and so on, because I want my customer to think this is expensive stuff.'
JOHN: The act didn't last long, though, and couples came to realize they could do it themselves. Deejays, of course, bristle at the notion that they're replaceable, but a few also admit that sometimes they are their own worst enemy. Deejay Times Jim Tremayne.
Mr. TREMAYNE: There are deejays out there who do need a map and a flashlight to find their humility, but like any other industry, you're going to run across the good eggs and the bad eggs. It's just that the bad eggs in my industry are a little louder.
JOHN: Over 5,000 deejays of all volume levels will join forces this week at the 16th annual International DJ Expo in Atlantic City. The rise of the iPod wedding deejay is sure to be a hot topic of conversation. That and the search for a successor to the macarena, God help us all. For NPR News, I'm Derek John in New York.
(Soundbite of "Celebration")
CHADWICK: I'm Alex Chadwick. There's more coming up on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.
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