Cincy DJ Unearths the Principles of the Profession

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By Con Carney

Cincinnati, Ohio—Many DJs who work full-time jobs often find that their skill sets overlap from one profession to the other. For Ryan Kellinghaus, the skill set required to effectively carry out his job as an assistant high school principal pays dividends when he runs his six-system mobile company.

“I was a special-ed teacher for 10 years, and the first five years I would have told you I had no desire to be in management,” he says. “But five years ago, I began teaching at a new school, and it’s funny how sometimes you just land in a place where the philosophy, the practice, everything just kind of fits, and you find yourself being asked to take on a leadership role and do more mentoring, lead workshops, and somebody one day pulls you aside and says, ‘Have you ever thought of being a principal? You would make a really good one.’ Then after a couple years of mentoring teachers, you start to like it, you head back to school for a masters degree, and 10 years later you’re an assistant principal.”

These mentoring and organizational skills lie at the root of his success with his company, 513 DJ.

“I like to think of us as more of a cooperative than a business,” he says. “As DJs, all six of us have our own styles, coming from different backgrounds. One DJ is a drummer in a rock band, one’s a high school music teacher, another is a female turntablist, another is a radio guy, and I also have my college-age nephew, whose been going out with me to gigs since he was 12.”

Kellinghaus, who’s run every type of DJ company imaginable—solo op, subcontractor, talent agency head, partnership, etc.—prefers his current setup, started eight years ago, where each DJ owns their own system. Kellinghaus books the gig, meets initially with clients, and draws a commission.

“What I’ve found is that the most reliable and professional people I’ve ever worked with are those who own their own equipment,” he says. “One of the toughest things to do for DJs who own their own company is to bring other DJs into their business; you struggle with finding people who care as much as you do, who are in the same mind set as you.”

Perhaps it’s a sign of Kellinghaus’ leadership and mentoring ability that draws like-minded DJs, or maybe it’s his diligence and knack for booking gigs.

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