Minutes before the show DJ Ear begins preparing the playlist for The Mix. (Anibal Santos)
At the KSBR radio station, on a cold foggy night in the empty Saddleback College campus, DJ Ear begins setting up his equipment in preparation to host The Mix, an electronic dance music show which runs from midnight to 2 a.m. on 88.5 F.M KSBR every Saturday night.
As DJ Ear connects the last cables of his laptop to the audio equipment in the radio studio, he realizes he left his mixer at home. It’s eight minutes before The Mix is about to begin.
“I’m really frustrated right now,” he said looking down at his equipment.
Tonight he won’t be able to skillfully blend his eclectic mix of music, which every disc jockey is known for doing.
“I feel so empty right now,” he said four minutes before the show is going on the air. With the show minutes from starting he has no time to get it back.
Fortunately DJ Ear is a professional DJ, so he carries on the show by controlling the blend of music with his laptop.
“You’re in The Mix with DJ Ear, bigger, faster and more powerful. On 88.5 FM KSBR Radio, Mission Viejo, Saddleback College after hours,” a recorded voice of a woman with a British accent said.
The opening track begins and he starts the show off with a Celtic House dance track.
DJ Ear, whose real name is Weston Ahren, 25, Radio Broadcasting, has been bringing his skill-full blend of electro dance music to Saddleback radio for about a year and a half. He has also DJ’d at various conventions across southern California.
The genres and sub genres that he plays during his show include: Electro, House, Trance, Hardstyle, UK Hardstyle, Gabber, Dubstep and Hard Dance.
Its now midnight in the studio and the only living things on campus are: campus police, raccoons and DJ Ear. Out of all three, DJ Ear is the loudest and most active.
The mix of sounds that he is creating from his laptop are loud enough to make the walls inside the Student Services building vibrate.
“This is pretty much the bear bones of being a DJ. You take away the crowd and the ambiance and this is all it is,” he said during a break in the set of tracks that are blasting into the KSBR studio room.
KSBR is known for its strong emphasis on smooth jazz, but on Saturday nights DJ Ear breaks away from the traditional programming with The Mix. The Mix is also one of the few FM stations to play the variety of dance music that mainstream radio doesn’t play.
“I’m excited to do a show even though it’s a late at night,” he said.
“He started with us in 2010 and from the beginning he showed an interest in doing a mix show. He has been a solid addition to our Saturday line-up,” said Terry Wedel, Director of General Programming on KSBR Radio.
Currently he is one of the busiest DJs in the electronic dance scene. Besides hosting The Mix, he is also involved with Saddleback’s The Monday Night Meltdown, which airs every Monday night at 7 p.m. on OC Rock Radio.com. He is also working on a new album, which he will debut on July 4 at the Anthrocon Convention in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
“Personally I like to play a lot of uplifting music,” he said. “I like to listen to different kinds of music and see what do I enjoy and what would other people enjoy. That has always been my approach.”
He said that being a good DJ takes more than spinning records and creating sound effects to dance. He said at the core, a good DJ has to makes good decisions on song transitions, beat matches and overall must be creative.
According to DJ Ear, the latest software has made work of DJs easier in terms of blending and transitioning, but it has made it harder for many to distinguish themselves among their peers.
“Initially it has taken a lot of that hard work you need to DJ, it’s gotten to the point to that if everyone is special, no one is,” he said. “If it’s going to be that easy then you have to really make the effort to stand out among everyone else. It takes more than just putting your first up in the air to do this job.”
“Do you know how to read a crowd? Do you know how to keep them there? Or are you going to screw up your transition from song to song? Do you know what songs to play? What music to play to keep people on the dance floor?” he asked.
Despite new software technology and the current vast styles of electro dance music, DJ Ear has kept a simple and straight forward approach to his practice.
“I’ve always seen DJing as taking the audience on a journey,” he said. “I’m always looking to play something that no one has heard of before.”
It’s one hour into the show, and DJ Ear takes a small break from playing his set to check the activity on The Mix’s Facebook page.
In the last year and a half, The Mix has begun developing a following on social media. The show has also begun developing an audience in Europe where dance music is very popular.
DJ Ear returns to the microphone to identify the artists that just played and identify the radio station.
“You are tuned into The Mix right here on 88.5 FM KSBR. This is where the party is at every Saturday night,” he says.
For more on DJ Ear’s music:
The Mix’s Facebook:
Monday Night Meltdown:
“This is pretty much the bear bones of being a DJ. You take away the crowd and the ambiance and this is all it is.” (Anibal Santos)