DJ Hot Rod plays game day soundrack at Notre Dame Stadium
The game day experience has changed over the years at Notre Dame Stadium from the benches to rooftop terraces and the video board. In addition to physical changes, Notre Dame is also changing up the soundtrack of game day.
You'll always hear the band play traditional favorites like the Victory March and Alma Mater but now you might hear your favorite song from the radio too.
"Music is a big part of people's lives and I think it moves a lot of people," Rodney Washington, also known as DJ Hot Rod, said.
We first introduced you to Washington at the Notre Dame men's basketball games. Now DJ Hot Rod has upped his game, spinning music for the Fighting Irish football team.
"My game plan is I always like to walk across the field and just like soak it all in. Like I said, it's a blessing to be here. This is like really big for me, I mean radio is big, I think this is super, super big. Like I said, 80,000 people, you can see 80,000 people rocking with you," Hot Rod said.
Hot Rod and video board guru Mike Bonner work closely together to enhance the game day experience.
"Part of the reason we're up here, just above the fans, but feeling it. Windows are wide open. You have to feel the fan. You have to make sure you're viewing the game in their perspective," Bonner, the Executive Producer of Live Events for Fighting Irish Media, said.
The music affects the crowd and in turn affects the players.
"I love the music. And then when the fans do come in, that's electric. When you come out to warm up right before the game, I love to look around and see everyone having fun, everyone enjoying themselves because I used to be up there enjoying myself, so I just love to see the moment," cornerback Julian Love said.
The key is preserving the tradition of Notre Dame while mixing in a modern twist.
So while they've blended the old school with the new school, everything that happens pregame is all about the players. If you see a cassette tape on the video board, that means that player specifically picked that song. Brandon Wimbush, he likes Michael Jackson.
"Michael Jackson, his favorite song is 'Don't stop 'til you get enough' so I'll play that and you'll see him warming up to it. I never seen nobody warm up to Michael Jackson, but athletes got they own way of turnin' up," Hot Rod said.
The music is personalized to meet the players' needs.
"I actually met with Coach Kelly in the off season and we even talked about that. So, when we had the players to do a lot of the stuff we were doing for the video board, head shots, green screen, I asked them what music do you want to hear? And part of the reason we do that is because the music in here, we have a very wide ranging audience, I like to say from 4 to 94. It's not always for everyone, it's not always for me but at that point it's for the players. We want to make sure that they're getting psyched, they're getting pumped up," Bonner said.
Before the season began, the players compiled a song request list and their taste in music is as diverse as the fans.
"It's super dope to play what they want, because it's like what I want to hear as well. But to see them hyped up and everything and when they zoom the camera on they face and they singing it, it kind of makes me feel better," Hot Rod said.
The most unusual request came from senior offensive lineman Quenton Nelson.
"Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones. It was so weird, I was like I never heard of a game or TV show, so I found a remix to make it up tempo. So that was a weird request for me," Hot Rod said.
For Hot Rod, it's all about the players and getting them ready to give their best on the field.
"Yeah, I feel like I should have a helmet on, some shoulder pads, I feel like I'm getting the win, too when they win. I think it's super fun. I'm hyping them up, I'm getting them ready for game mode. I love it," Hot Rod said.