Just across the street from Christian radio station KHCB-FM, Mark Diaz, a.k.a. DJ Mark D, puts out his own audio broadcast, trying, like his neighbors, to attract lost souls with the soothing sounds of salvation.
Surrounded by his technical gadgets, anime action figures, turntables and computer equipment, this 13-year "cheesy trance" veteran, Asiaphile and Pez lover runs Vinylbeats.com, an alternative dance Web site that features DJ profiles, music news and four streams of music that flow 24 hours a day. According to Diaz, the site gets an average of 600 to 650 hits a week.
Diaz established the site a year ago to remind Houston's underground dance diehards that there is still hope. No matter how many times they hear 50 Cent's "In Da Club" instead of the latest Mark Farina or Marques Wyatt mix, fans of dance music have a friend, a provider, a That's My Mama -- if you will -- in Vinylbeats. "What we wanted to do was make a tool for everybody to use," says Diaz. "So this is a medium, but there's no control. No one can try to control it and monopolize it."
Local and national DJs do weekly live shows on Vinylbeats; Bruno B, Ben Clark, Nathan Stewart, BMC and Noizee are a few of the regional spinners who have shifts. But perhaps the most familiar name is Ethan Klein, who spins Oxygen Radio, a two-hour house/ techno frenzy on Thursday nights. "The reason why I have this," says Klein, "and the reason why I do Oxygen Radio, is because I want people to have an opportunity to listen to music other than what's on the radio and to kind of, in a sense, expand their horizons."
With branch offices in Dallas and Los Angeles, a set of broadcast studios in Houston and a den of decknicians willing to follow him into the depths of hell, Diaz is leading his people down the path of good dance music. He may not be Moses, but the man knows a good beat when he hears one.