DJ A-Ron bringing his spin to Illini games

DJ A-Ron bringing his spin to Illini games

CHAMPAIGN — Aaron Harris first became a part of the Fighting Illini family as an Urbana eighth-grader in 1999. His neighbor and mentor, Joe Cross, played for Lon Kruger's basketball team and would let his little buddy tag along at practices and play ball boy.

"I got to hang out with Cory Bradford, Frank Williams, all those guys," Harris said.

He'd stick around through the Dee Brown/James Augustine era in 2006 before embarking on a career as a professional DJ, an occupation that has taken him coast to coast.

Today, his passion for the UI and making music will collide at Memorial Stadium as Harris — aka DJ A-Ron — will be one of the lucky few spinning tunes and providing entertainment before and during Illinois' season opener against Ball State.

Harris, who will work alongside veteran in-house DJ Keiron Ochoa — DJ Matrix — today, will take over as the primary DJ for the Week 2 game against Western Kentucky. Having an in-house DJ is a growing trend at collegiate sporting events across the country.

"Even though I've traveled a lot and done a lot of big things as a DJ, this is more important to me than anything because I'm from here," Harris said. "The people in the stands, these are people I've grown with, and this just feels completely different than anything else I've done."

Harris got interested in becoming a DJ in 2005, when he began paying attention to the culture and studying the art of working the turntables. His influences include Kid Capri, DJ Supa and DJ Metro.

"I pay attention to them a lot and other DJs to focus on different things they do and their styles to create my own," he said.

From high atop Memorial Stadium in the press box today, Harris said his main goal will be to provide an experience for the fans and to make sure his sounds touch everyone in attendance. He'll be playing a big set during pregame warmups and at times during the games, and there is coordination between Harris and the Marching Illini to make sure their acts aren't interrupted.

"Music is what brings everyone together; everybody loves music," he said. "I want to keep the tempo high and exciting. We're going to have fun, and I want to bring excitement to the football games."

Currently, that means plenty of Bruno Mars.

"He's got it right now, he's the man," Harris said. "You can pretty much put on any Bruno Mars song, and it's going to get it going."

Becoming a part of Illinois athletics is as good as it gets for Harris, who hosts a weekly show on Champaign-based online radio station Power 102 Jamz. Getting on the bus every day after school to head to the Ubben Basketball Complex was the highlight of Harris' days as a youngster, and the relationships he fostered with Illini players and coaches left a mark on him.

"I was at all the games and just being a part of that is what kept me in line. I wasn't out doing anything bad after school," he said. "When they do stuff like that with young kids, you never know how much that can affect them.

"Everybody was really nice to me, and it just made me feel a part of that culture. It's an amazing feeling when you're young and you're hanging out with these 7-foot-tall guys."

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BruckJr wrote on September 02, 2017 at 4:09 pm

If Whitman wants to get rid of offensive music at the football games he needs to look at the crap that they play over the PA system, especially during the pregame.