BY WENDY HUENUL
DJing and broadcasting isn’t always just pushing a button. For Gerardo Guerra better known as DJ Kruz, it is about bringing people together.
DJ Kruz started his career as a radio host volunteering at CKWR in ’94. It was a time with limited access to outside information. He was able to get his own show at Conestoga’s CJIQ in ’96 and shortly after started up another show at CKMS 100.3.
But before he started his journey in the broadcasting world here in Kitchener, DJ Kruz left his home in El Salvador at 18.
“My family immigrated over. There were programs back then where you would apply in your home country and just wait for a spot to come over, and we were lucky enough and got to immigrate.”
His father was a business owner and at the time there was a lot of civil unrest in the country, and depending on your status, there was the possibility of running into trouble. So for their family’s safety, they traveled to Canada.
Having a Spanish background allowed DJ Kruz the opportunity to draw in a Spanish audience by finding and reporting news from their home countries.
“So I had my contacts who would get me information via regular mail, not email, regular mail. They would send me whatever I asked for, including music. So, of course that wasn’t something available anywhere around here so that was like a good way to do it. And you know, it was great back then, still pretty good (now), but back then there was more interaction because people didn’t know what was going on in the world. So it was just a medium for them to get information.”
In the ’90s being a broadcaster and DJ went beyond turning on a laptop.
“We’re going back to the ’90s right? So I bought my music, I had my sources from where I bought my music and there were no CD burners at the time. You would go through the phonebook and phone The Record and have them send you any information or extra CDs they had for sale and that’s how I started building my library. I got cases and cases of CDs and a few vinyls that I used to buy. Now it’s all electronic music because some artists won’t even put out a record but more like singles. And with a lot of collaborations now, it’s a little bit different. Now you just buy music online, which, of course, is a lot easier then having to go spend 20 bucks on a CD maybe you’re only going to use one or two songs from which is a waste of money.”
After a few years of providing new music and information at CKMS, DJ Kruz went back to CJIQ and has been there now for over 10 years. He can be found playing some salsa hits from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons on 88.3.
In addition to feeding information to the Spanish community, he is able to bring together many people by DJing at many venues including The Flying Dog (before it shut down), Dos Tequilas and other places across Ontario.
“I try to keep learning to do the job well and do the best I can based on the audience. For the most part at clubs I play tropical. When it comes to tropical that means salsa, bachata, cumbia, merengue and, of course, reggaeton … A lot of it. The target within the Latin community, especially in a smaller town, is varied. You have to cover a mature to younger crowd, all in one place. So you have to balance your music because you’re not going to be playing reggaeton all night for a couple of 45-year-olds, but you also can’t play salsa or merengue all night long for the same couple. You have to measure what your audience looks like and what they’re dancing most to. And that’s how you start to bring the night up and back down.”
For the most part though, for DJ Kruz, the connections he makes with people and the connections he witnesses being made is what it is all about.
“My favourite event or venue was The Flying Dog. I was basically there every Thursday night before they shut it down … I got to watch a lot of people get experience in dancing and they went on to do other things. With the dancing part of it a lot of them went on to be instructors or others went on to do their own performances. There were people who got engaged at the Dog … proposing right on the dance floor. It was always kind of neat to see all these type of things.”