Chronicles of karaoke DJs

Chronicles of karaoke DJs

By Trey Braunecker


For Samantha Bursisch, the best part of karaoke is the homage to whomever she sings.

She said she enjoys singing songs people might have heard a million times, but in her voice.


“I like to bring a new twist to old songs. It makes me happy because music is a big part of my life,” said Bursich, who has been a Music in Motion DJ for about four years. “Whether it is singing a Beatle, Bowie or Janice song, I like giving it a personal flair.”

Terry Brooks, DJ and owner of Music in Motion, said he originally got into the karaoke business as a hobby, but he eventually expanded his passion into a career.

Bursich said she got her job after she visited Key West in Carbondale.

“I have always loved karaoke. I’m a karaoke junkie,” she said. “After I visited Key West, I heard there were these karaoke shows everywhere. I went to an out-of-town show and came across my boss there, begged for a job and eventually got one.”

After nearly 33 years in the business, Brooks said he has seen all kinds of people take the stage. Some had plenty of talent, and some lack it.

“There are people who come to karaoke who are serious singers, and it gives them a venue to come up and be able to sing in front of people and show their talents,” he said. “Then you have people who could not care less what they sound like, they are just there to have a good time.”

“I think that is the fun of karaoke. It does not matter what your singing ability is, everyone from no talent to real talent comes out to a bar, have fun, express themselves musically, and it gives them a few minutes of fame on stage.”


Whether the genre is pop, rock or country, Brooks said he has met many different people and played a variety of music during his career.

Both DJs said each place they have played at has its own atmosphere, which gives diversity to the songs they play.

“The majority of songs that are done with karaoke are country, but it depends on the venue you are at,” Brooks said. “At Hangar, you have a college crowd, and you also have an older crowd, so anything goes.”

Birsich said Hangar 9 is one of her biggest nights during the week, and its location on the Strip makes it a great location for people to meet.

Derek Hamblin, who teaches in the Outreach Program through the University’s music department, said Hangar is one of the busiest karaoke spots in Carbondale.

“I have been going to karaoke places for a long time because I usually know people who work there, and this one of the biggest karaoke bars recently,” Hamblin said. “Everywhere else has drink specials, but they have quieted down a little, I think it is because the bar is closer to campus, it is a good spot for the college crowd.”

Brooks said, he has seen his share of good times on the karaoke scene. As with any business, he said, not every night goes exactly as planned.

“The best nights are when everyone is having a good time, there are no hassles, the DJs are happy to be there, the audience gets to sing their songs and everybody is in a good mood,” he said. “We have had fights break out before. Whether it is a party or a wedding, you have people who are inebriated or look to cause problems. They are not there to have a good time, and it makes them rude, crude and socially unacceptable.”

Busrich said Brooks has helped her learn a few tricks about karaoke she never knew before working for Music in Motion, such as keeping the crowd in order and stay in control as an emcee.

“He also taught me to never play too many slow songs in a row to make sure everyone is moving,” she said.

Both Bursich and Brooks said the reason they love being a DJ is because karaoke it is an exciting job that gives them the opportunity to have a good time with the crowd.

“I think people like to be under the lights, and share their favorite artists with other people, and bring something new to people that they have never heard,” she said.

No matter the reason participants hit the stage, Brooks said all that matters is that they enjoy their time on it.

“The ultimate goal of this business is satisfied customers,” he said. “I look at this as a business.It is entertainment, but it is making sure that everyone is having fun.”