Mike Walton is a professional DJ and is the owner and operator of Mike Walton Entertainment. The company specializes in weddings, birthday and graduation parties, proms and corporate events. He was voted “Best Wedding DJ” in the Electric City’s “Best of 2016” readers’ poll. Walton is a native of Scranton and attended of Scranton Technical High School and Johnson College, where he received an associate degree in architectural drafting and design. He and his wife, Debra, live in Old Forge.
Meet Mike Walton …
How long have you been a DJ?
I say “over 20 years” to emphasize the experience factor, but it was actually 1984 when I started, so we’re looking at 33 years.
What inspired you to want to do it? What was it about DJ work that first drew your interest?
I didn’t want a real job. (Laughs.) While I was going to school, I wanted study time. I figured if I worked as a DJ on the weekends, I’d probably make as much if I worked at a pizza shop five nights a week. My sister worked at Specialty Records, so I could buy albums for $1. I built up my record collection like crazy, and a started buying all of these things that I didn’t know anything about. The music that I had to play was different from what I used to listen to. I used to listen to AC/DC, Van Halen and Aerosmith, and when I started deejaying, it was Madonna and Taylor Dayne. And once I saw the reaction at an event, of how people reacted to that music, it drew me to it even more. I was doing the nightclubs for three or four years, but when I did my first wedding, it was, “Forget about it.” From that point on, all I wanted to do was weddings. I just fell in love with it.
You and your staff do more than 300 events a year. After 33 years, what do you still enjoy about it?
I still enjoy working with clients and making their events personal. And I enjoy everybody on the dance floor. There’s a great feeling when it’s a great wedding. It gives you a sense of accomplishment — that you did something great for these people.
Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
Michael Bublé. And some of the rock and roll classics still have a heavy influence on my life. But there’s also Sinatra. Going back to that music, I’ve realized how tremendous it was. We just want to a jazz festival in Montreal and saw John Pizzarelli. And I love lounge acts, like Pink Martini, that offer such a great alternative type of music. And, of course, dance music. Any of the new dance music is fantastic.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
We like to go to New York City a lot. We love New York City. We got married in New York City, and it was one of the best experiences of our lives. We do Broadway a lot and fine dining. Our type of vacation is not to sit on the beach and chill out. We like to see as many things as we can. And New York City is one of the best places to do that. Every time you go there it can be a brand new experience. Ballroom dancing is also a big part of my life. I teach it. It’s part of my business and something I offer to my clients.
All-time favorite movie?
All-time favorite TV show?
Besides New York, what is your favorite city?
Austin, Texas. Austin is No. 2 because what New York City is to Broadway, Austin is to music. And we love Austin.
Favorite vacation spot?
The south of France.
Favorite thing about NEPA?
It’s in the middle of everything. We don’t have to jump on a plane to go to New York or Philadelphia or the ocean. And there’s a lot of resurgence in our own area, and it’s close to a lot of resurgence in other areas. The weather can be a challenge, but I like the mix of everything.
Definitely Christmas. Decorating our house … we were even in the newspaper one year, though my wife will not allow me to go over the edge. (Laughs.) She’s definitely the “yang” to my “yin.” DJs tend to go over the top with everything, but she’d definitely reeled me in.
Two cats: Mario and Giorgio. And we’ll soon be adopting a Labrador, Lupa.
Favorite quote or catchphrase?
For my business, it’s “Expect the best” and “You only have one chance to do it right.”
Favorite book or author?
“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman.
Biggest pet peeve?
When mediocrity is acceptable. When people think that things that are mediocre are OK, whether it be with restaurants, entertainment, government or anything. I want things to be of a higher quality. We should all want that.
In addition to spinning music at events, you’ve also been a ring announcer at boxing events, been on parade floats, set up photo booths and have hosted “Game Show Trivia.” Is there anything about you, in addition to all of that, which might surprise people?
In June, I was 24 years sober. Twenty-four years of sobriety equals a beautiful life. From the things that I did in my life, I’m just amazed that I’m still here. Friends that knew me back then are astonished and proud of my accomplishments — to be where I’m at, and have a business, and have people work for me, and to be out in the public eye. I’m actually also the one who is surprised. What’s funny is when I got sober, I thought, “How am I going to be a wedding DJ now? How is anybody going to have any fun with me? How am I going to have any fun? I have to be enjoying what I’m doing to make other people enjoy it.” And three weddings in, I’m on the middle of the floor lying on my back singing “Love Shack,” with a bunch of people lying there next to me, I said, “I think I’m going to be alright.”
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at email@example.com
photos by Emma Black