Meet Tobi Lynn, DJ for ALT98.7fm
Tobi Lynn is curator and on-air host of Sunday School (new music) and Close To Home, a show that celebrates LA based artists/bands. The shows airs every Sunday night from 8-10p on ALT987fm. Formerly, she built/curated the college/indie channel for XM Satellite Radio called XMU from scratch. She programmed the channel for almost a decade until the satellite radio merger. Tobi dwells in KTown.
When did you first know you wanted to be a DJ? What inspired you to choose this path? Do you have any professional training?
I went to a small private liberal arts university called DePauw in Greencastle, Indiana. The school had what’s called Winter Term the entire month of January, where students could do an off-campus internship or a mission trip abroad. But all freshman were required to stay on campus and take one class that had nothing to do with their major. I had an Art scholarship and was an Art Major, so I couldn’t take any of the creative classes because they all fell under the “arts” category. The only class that sounded interesting to me was the WGRE Radio Winter Term. So I signed up hoping to have some musical fun. But alas – it filled up too fast and I was put on a waiting list along with many others.
The day before Winter Term started, I got a call from the faculty advisor that someone had dropped out of the class at the last minute, and I was first on the waiting list. Little did I know at the time that clearly there was a cosmic force at work determined to shape my future. As you can imagine, I loved every second of my Winter Term. I learned all about radio and how to be a DJ and a newscaster. Because of this background, I was in a state of bliss because music has always been my passion.
After my WGRE Winter Term, I decided to double major and add Communications to my Bachelor Of Arts degree. And while I think my Art and Communications majors have been vital, it was my four years of experience on my college radio station, along with internships, that really developed my skills and guided me into a radio career. I think the fact that I have an ear for picking a great song, the gift of gab, and keen ability to craft/curate a seamless playlist are all things that I was blessed with and I’m very grateful.
What was your first professional gig?
My first paid radio gig was hosting a talk show called “Tobi Talk” on a “mom and pop” AM radio station in DeKalb, Illinois. The crown jewel of the show was “Instant Ads Of The Air” – a show where you could buy, sell and trade on the radio!” For 90 minutes of my show I would take calls from listeners and write everything down in a notebook. It was truly the analog Craigslist! So I decided to spice it up, booking my own guests – like the Mayor, the head of the Salvation Army, the Illinois State Representative. I would also tell funny stories about my life and ask silly or serious or thought provoking questions, and then take callers and get their input. It was an rare and amazing experience that truly honed my interview skills.
It’s great to chase your dream, but we know it’s not always easy. Tell us about your challenges and successes.
I’ve spent the last year navigating through the difficult mire of life post the big C. I’m currently in the aftermath and post-treatment chapter – so at the moment, I wish I could say I feel like a warrior princess, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve recently launched Tobi’s Sonic Retreat, a live music series introducing people to the music i’ve celebrated for years. These exclusive performances are interspersed with real talk conversation by yours truly, and give you up-close and personal access to your favorite (and soon-to-be favorite) bands/artists. You can learn more HERE.
You’re living in Koreatown, one of our VIVE LA neighborhoods? How did you decide to make Koreatown your home and what do you love about living there?
I moved to LA in 1997. For the first two years I lived in West Hollywood, then for the next three years I lived in what I guess would be considered Hancock Park/Larchmont Village adjacent. It was during those years that I first fell in love with Koreatown. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve now lived in KTown for almost 9 years. Hands down best dive bars in LA – R Bar, HMS Bounty, The Prince, and Frank n Hanks. And I love that I’m close to the Metro. But most of all, I love that Koreatown is always true to itself.
What advice can you give to other folks who are chasing their dream?
My advice to everyone who’s chasing their dream is always be true to your heart and fight with the fire of a thousand suns to manifest your dreams! Following your dreams will always be challenging, but at the end of the day, you have to decide if the happiness garnered in the midst of your trials and tribulations is worth it. I have to say that I really love the unconventional path I’ve taken as a new music curator/taste maker, radio programmer, and on-air/on-camera host. I’ve been unbelievably fortunate to have people in my corner cheering me on and helping me succeed. It has not been an easy road, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.