About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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July 2010 - January 2013
A Halo For Your Morning Commute
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It’s Tuesday morning. You’re driving to work on I-95, or I-84, at what feels like snail’s pace, alongside hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of others just like you. You’re in need of patience, sanity, and something to wake you up. While there’s nothing that can provide all three, if you tune your dial to WPKN 89.5 FM - Bridgeport (and 88.7 FM - Montauk, NY), one of the state’s most prominent DJs can take care of the latter as DJ Halo, going under his real name of Jeep Ward, is now coming to commuters live every Tuesday morning from 6am - 9am with Mornings on WPKN with Jeep Ward Behind The Board.

Ward is normally used to performing after sunset, rather than right at sunrise, but he knows what the morning commuter needs, “my motto is, traffic sucks, at least the soundtrack should be good.”

Providing a soundtrack is something Ward knows a thing or two about. He’s been doing it for artists on both local and national tours for years. As DJ Halo he’s the personal DJ for local hip-hop acts Workforce, Chase Davis and Plus, he tours regularly with Sketch Tha Cataclysm, and he’s one of the DJs in New York’s Mindspray crew. “At least once or twice a week somebody is calling me saying ‘hey, are you free on this night to be able to do a show?’”

The morning show on WPKN happened for Ward after he made the decision to go from being the station’s General Manager to a full time working DJ. The 6am - 9am time slots were just created at the station this past fall, and Ward notes WPKN’s morning shows are very unique in one key way. “You’re given some news, you’re given some traffic, we’re being mindful that people are on their way to work and they need information,” he explains, “but we’re still WPKN in the sense that we’re playing whatever music we want.”

Some DJs wouldn’t know what to do without a set playlist, but this is where Ward’s years as a professional DJ reap plenty of benefits for the listeners. “I try to keep it pretty varied because most people know me as being the hip-hop guy, if you will, on WPKN, but having been a live DJ for about twelve years now I have huge tastes in music.” His cure for the common commute? “Everything that’s upbeat.” For Ward this means creating a mix of music that has a much greater range than simply one genre. “I’ll go from a hip-hop artist like Drake, or Lil’ Wayne, into like a Chromeo song, into something that’s still hip-hoppy, but also dance oriented, like a Kid Sister.”

A bit of an internet junkie, Ward enjoys combing the web for rare remixes to play during his show, as well. “I have a blend of Rihanna’s ‘Disturbia’ with CeCe Peniston’s ‘Finally,’” he says, combing through his collection, “it’s a recognizable song, but it’s done to a different beat, so it’s cutting edge in the sense of it’s not something that you’re gonna hear anywhere else, but it’s also something that’s recognizable for people, so it has that pop appeal.”

Ward also isn’t afraid to pull out some indie rock, like Neutral Milk Hotel, or music from acts like Pearl Jam, The Lemonheads, or Bad Religion, and throw them into the mix. His only rule when it comes to the songs he plays is “I want them to have the same emotional feel during my three to four song sets.”

This is where DJing on the radio differs radically from DJing in a club. “With radio you’re taking a mic break,” Ward explains, “so that gives you a chance to reset your emotional clock as well as the bpm (beats per minute) clock. When you’re DJing live you’re very locked in, you want to keep similar bpms going. You don’t want to jar people because then you’re gonna lose the crowd.”

In addition to the Tuesday morning show, Ward also has a regular time slot on Wednesday mornings from 3am - 6am where he spins underground hip-hop, and he can be found working the turntables at Karma Lounge in NYC every Friday and Saturday night from 10pm - 4am. With a schedule that involves all that, along with his work with some of the most prominent emcees in the state, sleep is oftentimes at a premium for the Bridgeport turntablist.

If all goes well Ward might one day find himself at a major commercial radio station, on five mornings a week, at which point he will run on zero hours of sleep and copious amounts of sugar free energy drinks. Ward says that’s OK for now, though, because he sees the goal is within his reach. “I feel like I’m developing a new audience.”

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:35 AM  
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