Community Gem: Kettering man entertains elderly with music

Tony Peters is combining his years in radio with his musical aspirations, entertaining area senior citizens by sharing the two.

The disc jockey and Kettering resident has spent a considerable time over many years delighting audiences at Bethany Village, One Lincoln Park and St Leonard Center as a “senior music specialist,” said Andy Niekamp.

“He is an avid collector of old music media, including CDs, albums, and 8-track tapes. Tony’s gift to Dayton is music,” Niekamp said in his nomination of Peters as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

For several years, Peters said, he has entertained weekly at Kettering’s One Lincoln Park during “Tunes with Tony Tuesday at 10.” In more recent times, the 54-year-old Dayton native has enlivened residents at Bethany Village a bit less frequently, said Janet Bolton, who works at the Centerville facility.

“Tony comes in once a month and he plays the guitar. He’s quite a showman. And he walks around to the people and they just love it. He’s quite a musician,” Bolton said. “And he’s very entertaining.

“I think we all look forward to it when Tony comes,” she added. “There’s always a good turnout … I guess we’re just very fortunate to have a musician of his caliber here at Bethany.”

Peters’ appreciation for various musical genres has evolved through the decades. After moving from Dayton as a youth, Peters said he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Appalachian State University in North Carolina before returning to the area as a radio personality at WTUE and WING.

Entertaining at One Lincoln Park “was way out of my comfort zone because I’m like a Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin rock’n’roll guy and they were wanting to hear Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra,” he said.

He’d bring his kids along and what Peters called “a great byproduct” developed.

His children have “just grown up around all of these (older) people,” he said. “And my kids, their iPods are the weirdest in the city. They’ll have Kanye and Benny Goodman on their iPod because they’ve just grown up around this music.

“Again, I didn’t know that music. That’s what’s so crazy,” Peters said. “When I was their age, I didn’t know Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey and things like that. But my kids have grown up around it.”

While he “dabbles” with the drums and bass, Peters said he started taking guitar lessons in his 40s because — at heart — “I always wanted to be a musician.”

But he’s also kept a hand on the broadcast side as a DJ and an emcee while venturing into blogging and podcasting.

Through the years, he said, the seniors’ taste in music has grown closer to what Peters said he was more familiar with in his youth.

“Now, the music that people want to hear is ‘50s music and early ‘60s. And I grew up on that. My parents listened to that,” he said.

“That’s my wheelhouse. I love Elvis. I love The Everly Brothers,” Peter said. “And so, I don’t do sad songs. I don’t do (many) slow songs. I try to do energetic stuff and I try to connect to these people no matter where I am.”

Where he is now, “that is my calling as far as an entertainer goes. I love singing and playing guitar and making people happy,” he said. “I can safely say I was put on this Earth to do that. Because I enjoy it so much, and it seems to make people happy.”

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