To be able to say you truly love your job each day is something many of us can only imagine. For most, it’s a balance of tolerating the mundane, cyclical 9 to 5 routine, while making enough to pay the bills and square up a few bar tabs. To work in a fun environment that also falls right in line with one’s personal passions and interests is the stuff dreams are made of. From what I can see, Jacksonville-native William “Chill Will” Barker is doing just that.
After putting in well over a decade of work in the local music industry, everything from promotions and programming in a variety of markets, to leading the morning show on the former 92.7 The Beat Jamz, it seems he has officially “made it.” Dedication, networking, and rock-solid groundwork have landed Barker in his current gig as DJ for the Jaguars, as well as the Sharks and the Jacksonville Breeze. Not bad for a football fanatic who has been immersed in local music for nearly two decades. Barker was kind enough to have a quick chat with us and share some insight into the biz.
Where did you get your start as a DJ in the entertainment industry?
Well, I’ve been DJing since ninth grade. I had a musical background (piano lessons as a child, band in junior and senior high school). In ninth grade, I cut as many yards as I could and saved the money to buy DJ equipment and turntables. After college, I started working in radio, and the rest is history.
How did you get involved with the Jaguars?
I was a radio personality here in town and actually worked with Mrs. Delores Weaver and the Jaguars Foundation on their “Straight Talk” teen television show around 2003, so I had a small relationship with the team. I have a friend who is a DJ for another professional sports team, and he suggested I reach out to the team and show them my talents. In 2006, I put together a PowerPoint presentation and met with the game-day producer and once again, the rest is history.
What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
There isn’t just one. I’m a sports fan and I love music, so it never feels like work.
Do any of the players make requests for certain songs, or even songs to be played at certain times?
All the time, but there is a method to the madness. After TDs or field goals, we already have a set song, but player warm-ups, before the game, is all them. We just put a piece of paper in the locker room and they write down what they want to hear. There was this one player, who is no longer on the team, who wanted us to play a certain sound bite after he scored or had a big play, but it just didn’t work.
Do you have any type of a game-day routine or usual pattern that takes place on Sunday before kickoff?
I have one, but I don’t know if I should reveal it. Seriously, I have to be at the stadium about five hours before the game starts for production meetings, etc. And since the last few years we have had so many 1 p.m. games I usually stop by a certain donut shoppe, grab one donut or six donut holes, and then play this one song very loud as I speed across the Matthews Bridge with all the windows down (not that I’m superstitious or anything).
Are there any moments that stand out as highlights during your time with the Jags? Maybe a particular game or specific experience that you’ll always remember?
There are many different moments, but what really stands out is how in recent years, music has become a more important part of the game. Last year, the NFL relaxed some rules making it possible for us to play music between actual plays, and also Coach Gus having me DJ during training camp and having music pumped in at every practice. You know there is scientific proof that music does enhance athletic performance.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Jaguars season?
I’m really excited, and talking to fans, they are, too. It’s kinda like a kid during Christmas time. You know something big is coming in a few weeks.
If you weren’t working in the music industry, where else might you see yourself?
I don’t see anything else. Music is what I do, and what I know. I have recently branched out to more production aspects of music to include film and documentary scoring and music supervision on television shows.
Care to share anything else at all? A funny story while on the job, celebrity encounters, perks of working with The Roar, etc.
Hmmm, a few years ago when the Super Bowl was in Miami, I was DJing at an event and for some reason, Jaxson De Ville and a few other NFL mascots show up, but the security was tight and they weren’t going to let them in. I talked to the security guy who was near me and he radioed his boss and of course Jaxon and crew came in and, how can I say it – “Turned Up!” Also, working with The Roar, I edit all of their performance music, is a great perk. Honestly, we have the best cheerleaders in the NFL and they aren’t just eye candy. Those girls work really hard and are so cool. They really need their own reality show. The same thing goes for the drumline. Those dudes are beasts on the drums.
To check out more of Chill Will’s work, visit ChillWillOnline.com