I grew up in Ft Walton Beach, Florida. There was literally an AM radio just down the street from my house and I was a frequent visitor. As a youth, I spend many nights with my GE cassette recorder and a microphone recording tapes directly from the living room Victrola. In those days you only had two options to make a mix tape; Cut the tapes with razor and tape them together or as in the later days, take three tape records: play on two and record on one. I did both! In high school I worked at a Camelot Records music store where I met several recording artist. I helped Tiny Tim shop for sheet music and one of my co-workers ran off to be a roadie for the group Kansas. My first year of college I managed a small record and music shop, “The Sound Solution”. I would DJ at the local skating rinks to promote the record shop.
I graduated from Auburn University with a BS in Engineering. It was the early days of technology and I was into programming computer games and devices, like lights and motors. There were no laptops or cellphones but we did have digital technology, the VCR! I got one of the early consumer portable video recorders; it took two people to carry it: one to hold the shoulder mounted camera and the other to carry the battery and tape recorder. I started a part-time company, WiseOwl Video Services, recording weddings and events in the late 80’s. At that time, most weddings were in a church and the reception was cake and punch out back in the church hall. I would providing background music for the receptions while I was video taping. The music was on CD’s, no computer, just a couple CD players and a stack of CD’s. My end product was a slick production or your wedding including Titles, graphics, music, and fancy packaging.
In a short period of 8 years the industry went from VCR to CD’s and then DVD. The recording format went from VCD, to SD to HD. HD cameras were very expensive and you needed high end computers to edit, create and produce a DVD (and Blu-ray was lurking on the horizon.) The early adopters were like me were knocked out due to the high cost and only the larger more diverse companies could afford the equipment. In the early 90’s, it was becoming more popular to have your wedding reception at a venue where there could be more socializing, dancing, and parting. It was then when I evolved from event recording to event creating.
I was always an early adopter of technology and I had one of the first laptops Dell produced. The MP3 music format also came about in the mid 90’s. Having always loved the idea of mixing music with video, I was and still am, a big fan of music videos and recorded concerts. You could say I was the number one fan of MTV in the early days! In the late 90’s I produced several music videos for sports teams and special events and that got me in the mind set of creating “What a Night – Entertainment”, mixing music, light and video to create a multi-sense experience. The name was play of my last name “WHAT-ley” and what I was selling, “Entertainment.” The kids in the neighborhood nicknamed me “Daddy W” and that is what I now use for my DJ name.
What a Night – Entertainment. For the last fifteen years I have been offering my services as a DJ, MC, lighting and content provider. My company strives to provide its clients with a customized, right sized experience at an incredible value. I do corporate events and proms but my passion is wedding receptions. When I first meet with a client I let them know that I am not there to just be one of the vendors, I am part of the bride’s team. Many brides start with “How much?” While the price is important, the most important question to me is “what is your dream?” If I can wave a wand and make magic, what would your dream reception look like. Then, we work together to shape that dream and make that happen. We talk about ambiance, mood, timing, flow, and with the tools that are available: textures, lighting, projection, pictures, music, and the budget. I can talk for hours on this subject but in short, we (the team) work on how to take what we have (venue, props, colors, etc.) and put it together along with the wedding planner, to make it an awesome evening.
You will almost always find a video monitor somewhere at my events. I love to take pictures during the early parts of the evening and then display those pictures later in the night. Guests get a big kick out of seeing themselves on the screen and often in candid situations. Also if the bride has any dating or engagement pictures, these are great to display early in the evening during a cocktail time or while formal photos are being made. Often, I will create a GOBO (monogram) for the dance floor as well as creating motion monograms for the monitor. Some venues beg for up lighting and lots of dance floor lights while others are almost perfect just as they are so they only need a little “highlighting.” My job is to assemble this blend of atmosphere, light, texture, and music and then be the host/guide through the evening of love, fun and fellowship.