DJ legend marks 50 years

Published 5:35 pm Friday, June 11, 2021

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This month Lunenburg native Calvin “Mister K” King is marking a milestone in his career, all while celebrating National Black Music Month.

King, the son of retired Lunenburg educators Christine and Theodore King, began his career as a DJ 50 years ago this month, making him the first Black man to broadcast in Mecklenburg County.

According to King, he first began broadcasting in 1971 when he worked for the WJWS-FM in South Hill during the summer.

Known by most as “Mister K,” King said he was inspired by another Kenbridge native Lyle Jones, who was the first Black DJ to work at WKLV in Blackstone from 1953 to 1958.

Before his start in radio, King emceed talent shows at Lunenburg High School.

“The contestants were absolutely great, and it was a thrill for me to bring them on stage and introduce them to a very lively audience,” King said. “I can hear the screaming and shouting now as the students showed so much appreciation for the contestants and me as the emcee. Those were valuable experiences for me in developing my path to a career in radio.”

During the ‘80s, King operated his own club in Kenbridge known as Mr. K’S ISLAND.

“In the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90’s, I did discos and dances at the People’s Community Center in Victoria, Parker Gee’s, and the Starlite Arena in Lunenburg,” King said.

During his time in radio, King said he has worked with the likes of Maya Angelou, Don King, Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, and Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

Growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70’s King said he listened to a lot of R&B radio stations, which was also a big influence in his career. “When I had the opportunity to listen to these R&B stations in Richmond, I heard something different that I’d never heard before,” King said.

In addition to his time at WJWS-FM, King has worked as a DJ for WENZ radio, Petersburg’s WSSV radio, and WANT radio in Richmond.

In 2013 King was featured in the TV documentary, “The Soul R&B Legends of Central Virginia.”

Now retired, King said those inspired to become a DJ like himself should be a good reader and develop a good quality voice.

“You have to be a good reader,” King said, “So don’t think you’re going to get on the radio and be a successful DJ if you don’t like to read and you can’t read. So definitely work on those skills plus voice quality will be essential too.”