Island Lake woman lives dream of being a disc jockey for all ages

Kathy Ewing keeps life in perspective. You might not say she is “living the dream,” but you can definitely say she has turned a dream into reality.

I met Kathy where she works as a waitress at Benedict’s La Strada restaurant in Crystal Lake. Over the years, I have dragged bits and pieces of her life out of her. Here is what I discovered.

Kathy first blessed the world in Rockville, Md., but moved to Wheeling as a child and finally settled in Island Lake. She followed a conventional path, finding a job after high school at a heating and air conditioning company and going to college part time. In the back of her mind, however, was an ambition that grabbed her and never let go.

Kathy wanted to be a Disc Jockey. Music was her thing, and radio was where it was at. To sit in a studio with every piece of popular music at her fingertips was her idea of heaven. So while heating and air conditioning was putting food on the table, Kathy enrolled in broadcasting school.

Later, Kathy learned quickly getting a job in radio meant starting at the bottom with little or no income. Since she didn’t have any financial back-up, she decided to work as a DJ at local nightclubs in the evenings while maintaining her day job. The nightclubs owned all the equipment that Kathy needed. Her DJ career was off and running.

Soon she met her former husband, Wayne. He was a singer, and they found an immediate bond in music. Together, they expanded her business and formed a company called “Spin and Dance.” Kathy spun the records and Wayne sang. Weddings, graduations, anniversaries and corporate events were their meat and potatoes.

Older boomers may recall the 1960’s, when the person with the biggest collection of 45 rpm records was the life of the party. Listening to the radio was essential to follow the weekly changes in the Top 40 list of songs. DJs were stars, and when they played new songs by Elvis Presley or The Beatles, they helped make rock and roll history.

Kathy remembers a brush with greatness when DJ’ing a private party one night. To her amazement, DJ Dick Biondi of radio station WLS emerged from the crowd. He took her attention away from the turntables long enough to tell her what a great job she was doing.

Life has had its ups and downs, but Kathy has never lost her connection with music, and she has never stopped entertaining others with what she does best. Her repertoire is immense. Her own collection of records numbers over 1,000 and stretches from the 1930’s to the most contemporary performers. With her breadth of knowledge, she can reach across generations and bring smiles to people by spinning records.

When her mother went to live at an assisted living facility, Kathy’s audience expanded once more. You have heard that music can reach people in ways that mere words cannot. Kathy says the times that mean the most for her are captured in the memory of an elderly, bent and wordless man who looked up and smiled as she played the Marines’ Hymn.

Today Kathy is the talent in her own business, MusiConnections. She is working on a variety shows combining song, dance and magic. As you can see, Kathy’s dream of being a DJ never died because Kathy would not let it. She has been having too much fun.

MusiConnections and Kathy Ewing can be reached at 847-526-0163 or kjthedj@sbcglobal.net.

• Sue Neuschel shares her experiences as a Baby Boomer and offers unique places to visit in and around McHenry County. She can be reached at sueneuschel@att.net.

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