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Edwin ‘DJ Phenom’ Paredes at SiriusXM’s headquarters in New York City.
Last week, DJcity launched a contest with SiriusXM and Pitbull to find a new U.S. mixer on the network’s Globalization channel. The winner of the competition will receive their own year-long mixshow, along with a Pioneer DJ DJM-S9 mixer and Serato license pack.
Launched on SiriusXM by Pitbull in May 2015, Pitbull’s Globalization takes listeners on a “musical journey of rhythm around the world.” Its daily mixers include Big Syphe (Pitbull’s former DJ), DJ Rawn (former Power 106 mixer), and DJcity’s Kidd Spin and DJ Santarosa. Other mixers include BBC 1Xtra’s MistaJam, Mad Decent’s SpydaT.E.K, and KIIS FM’s DJ Drew.
We spoke with Edwin “DJ Phenom” Paredes, president of DJcity and program director of Globalization, to learn more about how the channel operates.
How does Globalization differ from other stations/channels?
It’s like we took every hot song from every popular radio station and jumbled it into one 24/7 channel. Not only that, but Globalization is bi-lingual, and sometimes we add music with languages other than English and Spanish. But the biggest difference is our DJ roster and mixshow style. Big Syphe and I have handpicked everyone on air. When I was given the green light to mold the station’s sound, I knew what I had to do: pick the best-skilled DJs across the world, pick the right daily time slots for fans across the nation, and give everyone a one-hour show to bring their A-game. Four of our mixers are on Monday to Friday. Those DJs are Big Syphe, Rawn, Santarosa, and Kidd Spin. The rest of our DJs have special weekday and weekend slots. We even have an all-female Monday to Friday mixshow called the “Diva Mix Hour.” Those ladies are better than a lot of the male DJs I know. But overall, we came up with our own fresh programming, and the fans are loving it. It’s a new age in radio and music discovery, and I want to cater to that audience but also give fans the Pitbull party and old school style they love.
How does your background as a DJ guide you as a PD?
Growing up in Los Angeles I listened to two main stations: Power 106 and KIIS FM. They helped mold my ear into the open-format style. The DJs on air were incredible, and I always wanted to practice and learn to be just like them. I used to stay up late or wake early to record DJs E-Man, Rawn, and Richard Vission (Powertools) from Power 106, and Drew from KIIS FM. I would use my two-deck tape recorder to edit out the commercials. I would then take the mixes to school and share them with friends. Eventually, I picked up some DJ gear and some club residencies in LA. One, in particular, lasted four years. I was there Thursday to Saturday opening up the night for a predominately Latin American crowd. That’s where I really trained my ear to play everything from hip-hop and house to ‘80s and Spanish rock to old school and new music without losing the crowd. Any DJ that really knows how to hold it down has mastered how to keep the early crowd engaged without burning the headliner. Sometimes I would do the whole night on my own and on those nights I really learned how to stretch the open-format sound for the four hours I was on. I use that model to help me pick the music and program how it airs on the station. I imagine the same club fan and program the station to what they might like. The difference is now it’s millions of listeners across the U.S. and Canada.
What is your process for adding new tracks to the channel’s playlist?
The management at the station votes on submissions. That team includes Big Syphe, Disko Drew, Kidd Spin, Santarosa, and myself. I also talk to many DJs from the radio and club world on a daily basis. I have the luxury of having my worldwide peers pitch me good music all the time. DJcity’s charts are a key part of what I look at on a daily basis to discover new tunes. I also look at the U.S. radio bible know as Mediabase, the Billboard charts, the iTunes charts, the Spotify charts, and I listen to new music I get from labels and artists directly. I watch how the music is moving in all of those areas regularly. If it’s doing well, I share it with my team and give it more shine on air. If it doesn’t seem to be moving anywhere else, I have a quick discussion with my team and either remove it or give it another chance. I also take notes from other PDs at Sirius XM. Geronimo, who runs BPM, is incredible at picking new music. His partner Dre, who runs Electric Area and a few other stations, is also on the cutting edge of dance music. Ron Mills is the hip-hop bossman that runs Shade 45, Hip Hop Nation, and a few other legendary channels. My main boss and contact is Kid Kelly, who heads up all the pop stations, hosts the Hits 1 radio show, and programs multiple stations across Sirius XM. I have the benefit of his guidance, and he always makes time to show me the tricks of the trade using our programming software. If you ever get a minute to chat with Kid Kelly, please make sure to use it wisely and soak up as much knowledge as possible. Learning from him and all of the other PDs has been a true honor.
What do you look for when adding a new mixer to the team?
I look for people who think outside the box but also follow the rules. I look for people who keep the same energy at minute 45 as they do when they kick off their sets at the beginning. I also look for people who know how to jump between different cultures, specifically English and Spanish. I get surprised when DJs only focus on one or two genres. I like clean mixers that can jump between them all seamlessly.
How much freedom do the mixers have?
A lot. They have a list that we curate and have a few tracks that they need to hit during their one-hour sets. But for the most part, they have a lot of creative freedom. I tell them to keep it funky and energetic. I ask them to play on air as if it was a major club. I think it creates a healthy competitive vibe among our team which brings out the best in everyone. But we all support each other. I make sure the energy among the crew stays positive.
Enter DJcity, SiriusXM, and Pitbull’s Globalization contest here.