SOURCE: DEB PETERSON
PUBLICATION: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
DATE: May 2, 2006
EDITION: Third Edition
Derris Perkins grew up on Adelaide Avenue, on the north side of St. Louis, between Fairground and O’Fallon parks. He attended Catholic elementary schools and high school and says that background is one of the biggest things “that kept the multi-culture in me — coming up hard in St. Louis . . . I think that’s one of the biggest things that changed me.” He was his mother’s only child, and she doted on Derris, wanting to make sure he had more opportunities than she had at his age. He was a good student because he needed to maintain a decent grade point average to stay on the football team at DuBourg, which Derris says was about the most important thing he had in his life. During his senior year, Derris was scouted by Purdue University. Then his knee was blown out, ruining his chances for a college career.
What did you do after the knee problem?
I took some business courses at Harris-Stowe — then it was a state college. I started doing temp work and I got promoted right away. I was always a good, hard worker and people seemed to recognize that.
How long did that last?
Not that long. I was dating a girl who had gone to school at Northwest, and she told me she thought I would like it there. I visited it and they had a good broadcast department, which was what I wanted to do. So I enrolled there.
How did you become a DJ?
I originally started off with skate rinks. I skated and I knew the rinks could use a DJ. I was a DJ for the Saints, and the family that owned the Saints rinks now owns the Loft nightclub, so I’m still with them. And I also was a DJ for Skate King in Pine Lawn, which I still work at sometimes. When I was at Northwest, there was one club in town and I was a DJ there. I got familiar with my craft, my talent, and I learned how to read crowds. That’s very important.
Do you have a particular sound as a DJ?
Motown, p-funk, rhythm and blues, jazz, blues, gospel and soul. I have been collecting music since I was in high school. I remember every week when I got paid, I’d go buy two albums. I use vinyl (records) and CDs. I’ve got music going back to the ’40s and ’50s.
How did you make the transition into radio?
About 1999, I interned as a promotional assistant for a radio station here in town. It was a bad experience, and I decided I didn’t need that. I was done with radio. I kept doing my DJ work, but at the same time, I went to work for Blockbuster. I became the assistant store manager in no time and I bought a house. My girlfriend was into real estate, so we fixed up the house and sold it, and then we bought another one. One night I was DJ-ing at Skate King with Deneen Busby and there was a fellow watching us. I nodded at him and it turned out to be Garth Adams, program director and operations manager for Foxy 95.5. He came up later and asked me for my card and then called me and offered me a job. I couldn’t pass it up.
What other sorts of things do you do?
I read a lot of magazines — anything that helps keep my ear to the street. I read XXL, Source, Vibe, Jet and Ebony and fashion magazines, among others. Other than magazines, I like to read books. I like true stories. I like to read fact. I also like to shop. I can shop inexpensive and make it look expensive. I can buy a pair of jeans from St. Louis Mills and pair them with a top from Wal-Mart. I try to be different. I believe in originality in style.
Do you do any volunteer work?
I like going to places like the Salvation Army — anywhere youth is — and I like to try to reach out to our youth. I just feel like if they are mixed up, where are we going to be? I also go to Harbor Light (Community and Worship Center, operated by the Salvation Army) and have cooked for the people there. I like to keep in touch. That’s what keeps me humble.
What’s that interesting necklace you’re wearing?
It’s a detailed silver chain that I had made a few years ago. And the pendant is silver with a diamond-studded microphone.
Education: Graduated from Bishop DuBourg High School, class of 1989; graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 1996 with a major in broadcast and a minor in public relations.
Family: Parents, Belinda Perkins and Calvin Davis. Son, Ridge
Job: Perkins is a DJ who runs his own business under the professional name “Deevine — 1 time 4 ya mind — Soundz.” is local producer for the syndicated Michael Baisden show, which is broadcast here on WFUN-FM (95.5).