“My purpose at games is keeping multiple groups of people entertained,” he said. “While it’s about getting the players hyped up, it’s also about keeping the students entertained. Then, as other fans arrive, you have to adapt and play stuff they may be familiar with.”
The week leading up to game day is a long one for Forge. In addition to being UNC’s DJ for football, men’s and women’s basketball and the Rammy Awards, Forge also works at clubs in the Raleigh area two to three nights each week.
In his downtime, he’s searching for songs, tinkering with playlists and finding ways to add excitement to Saturdays in Kenan Stadium.
“Honestly, it’s the same thing for any DJ gig – make as many people as you can happy,” Forge explained. “Sometimes I ask players via Twitter or on the field what they want to hear. I’ve had fans, alumni and kids make requests. If I don’t have what they’re looking for, then it’s something I try and immediately get. The thing about being a DJ, part of your job is to stay ahead of trends and already have what people want to hear.”
The most important part for Forge, however, is to make sure he represents himself and the University in a respectable manner. He has a folder of clean, scrubbed music that he constantly adds to throughout the football and basketball seasons.
“Obviously, games are a family event,” he said. “So I do have to manage the content of the music I play because ultimately I’m responsible. And it’s not just in regards to expletives and stuff like that. I try to not play stuff that references alcohol or drugs.”
Forge, along with other Carolina personnel responsible for game day production, arrive at Kenan Stadium two hours before kickoff.
After setting up turntables, a DJ mixer and laptop on the front row of the “Tar Pit,” he starts playing music 20 minutes before fans are allowed to enter the stadium.
“I think I personally tend to lean towards more popular stuff while sprinkling in some throwbacks every now and then,” he said. “Mostly for me, it’s about keeping the students around me excited. But, as I said, I try to give a mix of everything.”
Forge concludes his set about 15 minutes before kickoff and makes way for UNC’s marching band and other pre-game traditions. He then goes up to the production room and assists the UNC New Media team on an as-needed basis.
“There’s some pressure (in my job),” he said. “I think for me it’s an issue of not wanting to offend anyone, so I always get nervous with some songs. I’m thinking ‘is someone’s mother going to take issue with this? Is the younger demographic going to think that the songs older people like are bad?’”
“The pressure is not centered on anxiety around my abilities,” he continued. “But more so just managing expectations… managing user happiness.”
Though there is pressure, players like former quarterback Caleb Pressley remind Forge that his job is fun. Last year, prior to a game, Pressley made a song request.
“I didn’t have it,” said Forge. “So I downloaded it real quick, but I never had a chance to fit it in and didn’t play it. After the game he hit me up on Twitter and was like ‘oh really, you can’t play my song?’ I thought he was offended and I took it seriously. I felt bad and was really apologetic.
It turns out he was joking with me. Other people knew, but I didn’t find out until we exchanged tweets.”
This year, UNC has asked fans on Twitter to request music via the hashtag #KenanTunes. You can also tweet song requests directly to Forge (@djforge).
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