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May 2011

To be a radio DJ the pre-requisite is that you have to be a nerd

THE journey from Nottingham to national radio started for Pete Dalton around seven years ago when he invited the BBC’s urban music station 1 Xtra to the hip-hop all-dayer, UK Takeover at the Marcus Garvey Centre.
“They recorded some sets from there but they didn’t see me DJ,” says Dalton, 28, better known as MistaJam, who organised regular hip-hop nights with Joe Budha under the name SureShot.
“That went so well that when we booked KRS-One in to Rock City and added on a Q&A with him at Broadway the next day, they came up to Nottingham again. And that’s where they first saw me DJ. They asked me to try out for a show. That was in 2005 and I’ve been there ever since.”
Three years later he was drafted in to host a Saturday night show on Radio 1.
“I continue to do both. From Monday to Thursday I’m on 1 Xtra, then on Saturday night I’m on Radio 1 and 1 Xtra.”
He adds: “Being on national radio is a major thing. I grew up listening to Radio 1 and people like Pete Tong, Trevor Nelson, the late great John Peel so it is weird being amongst them.
“And the nominations for the Sony Awards has been the icing on the cake for me.”
MistaJam has two nominations for the 2011 Sony Radio Academy Awards, the Oscars of the radio world. He’s up for Best Specialist Music Programme and Music Broadcaster of the Year and he’ll find out if he’s won at the ceremony in London on Monday.
“It’s the first time I’ve been nominated and I wasn’t expecting it,” he says.
“I’ve got a good chance but I’m not holding my breath. I’m up against Jarvis Cocker, Zane Lowe and Mark Radcliffe, people with real pedigree. I mean, Mark Radcliffe was on Radio 1 when I was at school, so it’s weird to be nominated alongside him.”
At least there’s the party to enjoy, although he must be used to them by now.
“That’s the thing, you think it might be all glamour and glitz but the majority of the time it’s sitting in front of a laptop listening to music.”
What a nerd.
“You have to be. To be a radio DJ the pre-requisite is that you have to be a nerd.”
He grew up in Bestwood Park and Arnold and has family and friends in Radford and St Ann’s. His first taste of DJing was as a child using a Fisher Price record player.
“I used to spend hours and hours and hours playing records on it, ruining my parents vinyl collection,” he laughs.
At 14 he joined a local youth sound system then DJ’d for hip-hop collective Out Da Ville.
“I served my apprenticeship with them before working with Trevor Rose (at CRS) then with Joe Budha.”
MistaJam now lives in Northampton with his wife and their 10-month-old daughter.
“My missus works in Northampton so it made sense to move there and me to commute.”
He is still in touch with the Nottingham music scene and is a fan although he doesn’t give preference on his shows.
“Everything I play on my show is based purely on musical merit but there is a lot of really good music coming out of Nottingham, a lot of talented musicians. Liam Bailey is doing amazing things right now and flying the flag. In terms of hip-hop there’s a kid called Juggernaut who I think is absolutely amazing. Scorzayzee is finally getting round to releasing his album and I cannot wait to hear some finished material from Harleighblu, because she’s an amazing singer.”

The 2011 Sony Radio Academy Awards are on Monday at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The ceremony, hosted by Chris Evans, will be broadcast live online from 6.45pm

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