Lonnie Battle, 37 

Mix-Show Coordinator, iPower 92.1

click to enlarge PATRICK BIEDRYCKI

Record collection: approximately 75,000 discs.

Equipment: Rane 62 mixer, Technics 1200 turntables, Serato and a Macbook Pro.

But the tools are worth nothing if they aren't in the right hands.

DJ Lonnie B., the longtime mix-show coordinator for urban radio station iPower 92.1, has played the nightclubs, house parties and recreation centers of Richmond for more than two decades. As urban culture has become mainstream, Lonnie B. helps provide the soundtrack to the city, on the radio six days a week and via his mobile app and website.

In recent years he's become known for his tribute mixes, blends of the music of recently departed recording artists with the rare sound clips and interviews, healing the hearts of music lovers. "It's more than just a mix when I do things like that," he says. "I try to paint a picture with sound."

Battle's work hasn't gone unnoticed. In his former career, he rapped on a popular remix to Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody," and was offered a record deal in the 1990s. He chose radio over rap and hasn't looked back.

He's a member of a national crew of top-tier musical tastemakers called the Heavy Hitters, which includes Kanye West. He's played to a national audience on the Music Choice network. And he also makes time to speak to young people whenever he's asked. He's a frequent guest on career day at area middle and high schools and makes informal visits to talk to young people at group homes and churches.

"If I can ever be an inspiration to keep a kid on the right track, I'm always down to do it," he says.

Next up is a get-together for music enthusiasts called the Dee Jay Cafe, and the return of his citywide high-school reunion event, School Daze. And in November he'll perform at a tribute to the late local rapper Kleph Dollaz, marking DJ Lonnie B's first performance as rap artist in almost a decade.

Correction: In earlier print and online versions of this story, we misidentified the iPower 92.1. Also, Lonnie B. uses a Rane 62 mixer. We regret the errors.

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