KWVA Spotlight – DJ Toby

Preferred DJ name: Toby (friends and promoters call me King Toby)

Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon

Show time and day: Thursdays 8-10pm

Show title: Roots ’n’ Kulcha Radio

Show genres and/or description: Reggae

Artists commonly played on show: Sizzla, Chronixx, Jah9, Lutan Fyah, Midnite/Akae Beka, Dezarie, Hugh Mundell, Dennis Brown, Burning Spear, Beres Hammond, Peter Tosh, Culture, Israel Vibration, Capleton, Queen Ifrica…

How long have you been a DJ? Since August 2007

Top 5 albums of 2016:

– Jah9 – 9

– Akae Beka – Portals

– Kabaka Pyramid X Major Lazer – Accurate Mixtape

– Perfect – Reggae Farmwork

– Hempress Sativa – Unconquerebel

How did you get involved with KWVA? What made you want to be a DJ?

My roommate during my undergrad and I were both reggae DJs and he had a show on KDVS at the time to which I would accompany him regularly. I loved the freedom to play the music that I enjoy – authentic reggae with the heavy bass of a skyscraper sized stack of subwoofers, soulful vocals and reality lyrics about suffering and liberation. When I came to Eugene for grad school, one of the first things I did was turn in my application at KWVA. I am happy that I did.
Tell us your favorite moment/memory as a DJ:

I have two: one specific and one general. I do a lot of interviews with reggae artists (often big ones like Ziggy Marley, Toots, Rebelution, etc.) – most are by phone, but in 2011 and 2013 Vaughn Benjamin aka The Akae Beka (formerly of Midnite) came into the studio in person for two very in depth interviews. Vaughn isn’t a typical musician and you can’t ask him basic questions about his music or his band – it would be a trivial waste of time to him. Instead the interviews focused on the underlying philosophies that he writes lyrics about. At that time, he also very rarely granted interview requests, so I felt honored that he would even sit with me. In 2016, backstage before a show, he told me that I was one of his favorite interviewers, which is a very proud memory for me. Generally though, every time someone calls in to thank me for doing the show, or even asks me about a song I played, I am grateful for the opportunity to share the music I love with the listening audience. Those are some of my favorite moments.

What makes your show unique?

I think the focus on conscious, cultural music is one thing. The reggae radio world plays a lot of slackness or hybridized sounds to appeal to dancehall oriented and American listeners. I stick to music that has a message and is uplifting. I try to utilize interviews to help further convey that message because sometimes people get so lost in the vibe of the music they aren’t even paying attention to the lyrical content.

If you could play only one album on the radio for the rest of your DJ career, what would it be and why?

I don’t know, maybe Sizzla-Praise Ye Jah or Burning Spear-Marcus Garvey. Those were both very influential albums to me when I started selecting reggae music and have a lot of meaning that I would want to continue to share.

How did you come up with your DJ name and/or show name?

I’m not big on nicknames, so I just go by Toby as my parents have always called me. In RasTafari culture, there is an emphasis that the Most High came to Earth as a King (Ras means King) and that showed us that God is a living person. Therefore, there is God in all living beings and we are all Kings and Queens by our own rites. You often hear Rastafari people go by “Ras so and so” or “King so and so.” It was reggae artist and my good friend Arkaingelle that first started calling me King Toby and it stuck. I don’t introduce myself that way, but people seem to know me as that just the same.

Dream guest to have on your show?

In a dream, Emperor Haile Selassie the First, first and foremost, but of people that could actually come in the flesh I think Jah9 right now. I’ve had 3 really powerful interviews with her so far, but all have been on the phone. I’ve spent a little time with her in person, but I would love the opportunity to sit down with her face to face in the studio.

Any influences for your show or as a DJ?

As a DJ I grew up listening to classic sound systems like King Stur Gav and Stone Love, but my favorite radio DJ is probably David Rodigan. I format my show differently, but would happily do a show formatted more similarly to his. He imparts so much knowledge and storytelling every time he plays.