Since the 2014 season, I've been the Voice of Petco Park for the Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres. Outside of our talented producer, the person I work closest with night-in and night-out is a man by the name of Erik Jorgensen, otherwise known as DJ EJ.
The musical yin to my vocal yang, EJ provides the soundtrack to everything you hear inside the ballpark--from batting practice, through pregame ceremonies and batter walk-ups, to when I bid the Friar Faithful a good evening. When he's not found at Petco Park, he's most well-known as the official game day DJ of the Dallas Cowboys.
EJ is hands-down one of my favorite people to work with. His attention to, and appreciation for, detail is unmatched. He shares the vision of a grander show, yet quick to pivot as the game action dictates. We sat down at the end of the season to talk about our professional backgrounds, our love for music, how we've grown a rapport, and what makes baseball such a unique production from our POV.
AM: My path to the Padres is a well-publicized one. You started with us over twenty years ago before stops in LA (Dodgers, UCLA), Sacramento (PCL's RiverCats), and Dallas (Cowboys, Stars, TCU, SMU). How did you find your way back?
EJ: I worked with the Padres right out of college in 2000 and after I left, I kept in touch with a lot of people. In 2015, the producer who hired me at the Cowboys came back to San Diego. He asked me to sit in for the (2016) All-Star Game, and that’s about when you and I started working together.
I continued to sit in here and there afterwards, but then 2020 was a weird year with Covid, and I was asked to do all 30 home games plus the Postseason. That’s where you and I really started clicking.
AM: Thinking back, we really have been working together for years, just not consistently until then.
EJ: Yeah, but that was also different because I was outside the room, and you were in your own separate booth. But this year when we got to full capacity (June 17th), and we both came back into the control room, I think that’s where we really started firing on all cylinders, so to speak… like a Mercedes V12! It's neat to take the experience you and I have learned over the years--with regards to baseball and the flow between music and PA--incorporate it, and make it a smoother show going forward.
AM: My background is different from yours--you actually had a background in baseball, playing baseball. Talk about that, and DJ'ing a game with that on-field mindset.
EJ: I played in San Diego. I started out at State after moving down from Oregon and graduated from USD after playing a season there. I always loved music, and being in the outfield, I’d find myself thinking of song lyrics for things that would happen in front of me during play. Having played so long, and knowing all the situations, I guess I had an inherent ability.
AM: I have a little bit of a different background in that I came from radio. I was already playing a lot of music, just thinking about in a backwards way. As opposed to you seeing the situation and thinking about the song, I was hearing the song and thinking about the outcome. That’s where I got a lot of my timing. Getting in and out of records in a way to make the presentation sound seamless. To me, what we do as a show, comes back to radio. We’re live, the clock is ticking, the batter is walking up, I make my announcement, and…
EJ: Boom, right into it.
AM: We call that “hitting the post.”
EJ: And that’s what I love about where we’ve gotten with regards to a comfort zone. You have a very extensive music knowledge as well. Having that in your back pocket, plus being aware of the situation and what’s coming next—whether it’s a batter intro or a pitching change—that’s what really helps us keep that seamless flow. By the way, there was twice yesterday that I timed part of a song to a read in your script so we could hit the post.
AM: You’re making me look good!
EJ: That’s next level stuff! One was a Big Brothers Big Sisters live welcome. I read your script, cued up Avicii, and started it with one, or less than one second remaining in the read. You said, “thanks Big Brothers Big Sisters,” and then, “Heeyyy Bro-ther…” The other was the lucky row giveaway… I had “Lucky Star” going on.
AM: See, for you to pick up my cadence like I would pick up the beat of a record is really interesting, and something I never thought of. Mind you, we have no verbal communication through the game whatsoever. You talked earlier about 2020 and us being in separate rooms… we learned how to communicate musically.
EJ: It presented an opportunity. I don’t know if there’s a lot of those that happen every game, but for the lucky row I could’ve sat on (Daft Punk's) “Get Lucky.” I wanted to change it up... create a moment.
AM: You’re primarily known for your work in the NFL, but baseball is a completely different animal presentation-wise. How, and why is it so different versus football and other sports you’ve worked?
EJ: Well, I think the first--and biggest thing is--there’s 81 home games. So, my mentality with baseball is, “how can I extend the soundtrack as far as possible to not make it stale or repetitive.” That’s been a challenge for me this year, because I haven’t worked a full Major League season doing music… ever, now that I think about it.
In football, you only have ten home games. If I can get a crowd of 90,000 going with something that works, I’m probably going to use it in a lot of games. We need to create the best home-field advantage we can… make every game like the Super Bowl, in that sense.
AM: I always say, for me, it’s thinking like a manager. Coming from the minor leagues where we had a designated hitter, I had to relearn National League baseball… double-switches and all that. It was a good for me to learn how to think two steps ahead. What could happen here? And how is that important to my presentation at this given moment?
EJ: There are three keys to being a good sports DJ, I always say. One, knowing the sport. Thankfully I’ve done enough games across multiple sports that I can anticipate what’s going to happen. The second is knowing what music goes well within that sport—not only by genre, but situationally… what happens in baseball that you can have a song ready for? Lastly, you need to know where those songs are, so when that moment happens--or when it’s about to happen--you can play it very quickly. If you have to wait, or you have to react, it’s four or five seconds… and now the moment has passed. That’s how fast our production works. You have to be ready to go in an instant.
AM: When you walk away at the end of the night, what’s the number one thing you look for in a complete show. What do you ultimately want to leave someone with?
EJ: That’s a good question. I would like to… man, that is a really good question.
AM: I’ll go with mine, for example. My number one is to brand a player in a way that sets up a certain level of anticipation when they come to the plate. The crowd recognizes the song, and expecting a certain cadence from me, knows how and when to react given the situation on the field. Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, do-or-die, win-or-go-home elimination game, star player at bat. Ultimately, I want the expectation to be, when that first beat of music hits, and I start speaking, that everyone knows it’s go time.
EJ: I like that. That’s awesome. For the record, I’ve never DJ'ed a perfect game. The old adage is true, no one ever batted 1.000. And I don’t think that’s a realistic thing, because what does that look like?
There are things that leave me feeling good… like when a situation happens that might otherwise be a mundane moment, I can choose a few songs to keep people entertained. Earlier this year, one of the umpires was hit by a foul ball and had to leave the game. We were like, what the heck do we do?
Well, I started with a couple dance songs, and it literally turned into a 12 minute dance party that culminated with the Padres in the dugout doing Gangnam Style! If there are moments that can create a fun memory, that people will actually take the time to post on their social about, that’s a win for me.
Follow DJ EJ online at djej.org or through social media at @itsDJEJ on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Check out Alex's Live TV & VO Demo for more of his work across Major League Baseball, including the aforementioned 87th MLB All-Star Game live from Petco Park on FOX!