Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Reno Tahoe DJ Company and what you do.
Larry Williams: Probably the most important role I play is “Calmer in Chief.” I am the guy that really reduces the stress level for the bride. Wedding couples have to all of a sudden have to become experts in how to hire services or retail, and they are dealing with 15 to 20 different vendors. My job if they are looking for a DJ is to express the value of what we do — it’s more than just playing music. It is handling the master of ceremony role, the event flow and putting together an itinerary and a vision of what their wedding is.
NNBW: How did you get into this?
Williams: When my parents retired in 1988 we decided to move up here because we had family in Carson City. I followed them because I hated Southern California. I walked into a radio station one day (99.1 FM) and wanted to pull records for the DJ because I wanted to make ski money. The general manager took me into a production room and had me read some copy into a recorder, and I was just goofing around. He rewound the reel-to-reel machine and played it back and said, “Wow, where did you learn to do that? You have a really good voice, and with some refinement you could be a really good DJ.” He offered me an internship and I started radio DJing. I started mobile DJing out of that.
NNBW: What aspect of being of DJ do you enjoy the most?
Williams: Being able to impact people’s lives, and not doing it in a self-serving manner. I equate a wedding to a movie — you go to a movie to laugh, to cry, and really to connect to the people on the screen. A wedding is the most important scene in the movie of your life. When I am doing what I do correctly, I can make people laugh and cry and bring out all these emotions so people can connect with the guests of honor.
NNBW: What’s the most difficult aspect of your job?
Williams: Conveying value. A lot of times we are the last thing people hire. They don’t really study or have a thorough understanding of what we do. They think we just play music and make some announcements.
NNBW: How did DJing lead you into the arena of public speaking?
Williams: If I had known I had a good voice and articulate manner I would have a 20-year head start. I started speaking at DJ-industry functions, because DJs don’t know how business works. I got to the point where I needed to look at the next part of my life and how I could affect other people’s lives and help them. I could do weddings for quite a while, but I’m 53 now. No one wants to see a 60-year-old guy rockin’ the dance party. I want to be preferably out of the DJ business in seven years and into the public speaking, talking about branding, customer service and leadership.
NNBW: What’s your favorite DJ gig?
Williams: I was Dick Clark’s personal master of ceremonies for the better part of 15 years. When he had a family function, he would call me. I became friends with him and his family back in 1995, and we developed a great rapport and relationship. He influenced just about every aspect of my life and career, and I asked him to write the forward for my book, “Customer Service A to Z.”
NNBW: Of the hundreds of weddings you have done, is there one in particular moment in a wedding that stands out as your favorite?
Williams: They are all special in their own ways; that is the beauty of what I do. The things I did with Dick Clark’s family, there were some really magical moments. But by the same token, there are times when dads are emotionally brought to tears walking their daughters down the aisle. Those are probably the most magical moments.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Williams: Floral delivery boy. I also worked at a record store in Downey, Calif. I wanted to be a rock star — I had long hair and played guitar. I was in rock bands throughout the ’80s and opened for a lot of famous groups. I got to sit back and watch all my friends in Quiet Riot, Ratt and Great White get signed.
NNBW: You never made it as a rocker, but you did leave your mark in music. Tell us about that.
Williams: In 1991, there was a story I was reporting on about an 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped walking to a school bus stop in Lake Tahoe. This song kept going through my head, and I finally put it to paper. It was getting close to Christmas, and I realized that this family would be without their daughter. I got ahold of the mother, and she was moved beyond words that I had written a song about her daughter. That January I got a band and we recorded the song “Jaycee Lee” at Granny’s House. It reinforced and invigorated the whole search effort. It’s the only thing in music I ever did that was worth a dang.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Williams: I wanted to be an astronaut when I was really little, but when it started to become a reality that I sucked at sports and anything athletic, then it was music. I started off playing accordion.
NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?
Williams: I love camping; my wife hates it. We like to travel and go on cruises. Spending time with the family is great.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Williams: Anything to do with the beach, being able to sit down and read a book on the sand. I know it is boring as hell, and my wife makes fun of me. But we have been to Bali, and Hawaii. We are going to Jamaica for Christmas. We like anything that is sunny
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here
Williams: The career chose me. But northern Nevada, you can’t find anything that compares to this. This is the best of everything; Reno has got it all. You have got all four seasons, there are 150 places to camp within 45 minutes. There are just so many options and activities. Entertainment value, sports value, quality of life — it is all here.
Know someone whose perspective you would like to share with NNBW readers? Email reporter Rob Sabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 775-850-2146.