Maryland DJ creates virtual event in an age of social distancing

This is normally the time of year that life would start getting really busy for a guy like Ray Bachman, a disc jockey from Pasadena, Maryland, who helps emcee events, such as banquets, fundraisers and weddings.

But the coronavirus pandemic has changed everything.

Bachman is used to hosting weekly trivia nights, three times a week, at a series of bars and restaurants, where he has developed a loyal following for the unique way he blends music into his questions.

But right now all of that is on hold.

“Right out of the gate, I had six postponements,” said Bachman, about weddings he would have worked.

One was rescheduled, but is likely to get postponed again. He expects four more scheduled for June to be postponed as well.

“If you’re in the wedding industry right now, you’re just in a bad spot because you don’t know when it’s going to end. Then when it does end, most people book a wedding at least a year in advance.

He said most dates already taken, so it is difficult for people to reschedule later in the year.

“There’s no way to make any income at all if you’re doing what I do.”

It’s not only an anxious time for DJs like Bachman, others also have a lot of time to sit around and think about it all.

Some of Bachman’s regular trivia players reached out to him and asked about doing a game on Facebook Live.

That’s how he spent last Saturday night.

“We ended up having about 100 people jump on,” said Bachman.

“A lot of people who come out to my trivia nights played and then some new people, who just are bored.”

Then it got even better.

“Halfway through the trivia game, I had people say, ‘Hey, put up your Venmo so we can tip you,'” said Bachman.

“Initially, I didn’t even think about doing that. I was just getting bored and wanted to have some fun.”

It wasn’t what he was expected, but with his side-hustle as a ride-share driver also on hold, it definitely helped.

“Even though it’s not going to be enough to pay all the bills, it’s enough to buy some food and keep moving forward,” said Bachman.

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“It’s just scary times right now. You don’t know when you’re going to go back to work. I’m 45 years old and never in my life did I think to myself, ‘Man, I can’t wait to go to work.’ Not even having the opportunity to go out and find (a job), it’s just scary times.”

Those who played, kept score on the honor system. Two local companies, CRW Flags and one of the restaurants where he hosts trivia, Bella Napoli Italian Restaurant in Pasadena, even supplied prizes for some lucky winners.

After a relatively successful last Saturday night, he plans to do it again this Saturday too.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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