How D-Wayne became a vocal entrepreneur

Feb. 16, 2024, 5 a.m. ·

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This story is part of Nebraska Public Media's "What If..." series on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in Nebraska. Watch stories and full episodes at

Several thousand UNL freshmen wait under behind gates inside Memorial Stadium. On the field D-Wayne Taylor, microphone in hand, is getting them pumped up on a hot August afternoon for this annual Big Red Welcome event for new students.

“Huskers, I hope you’re ready to take the field!”

“Class of 2027, let me hear you make some noise!”

Once the gates open and the new students flood the field, D-Wayne’s voice continues to keep them energized and informed.

For Taylor, it’s another day in the life of a self-made vocal entrepreneur from Lincoln.

“The D-Wayne brand is vocal entrepreneurship, and the focus being on forming a communicative asset,” he explains. “I want companies or individuals to look at me and go, ‘Oh, I bet my message to my audience could go through easier if I had him.’”

“I'm a host/master of ceremonies, public speaking coach, I'm a radio host, TV host, a freelance commercial host, voiceover artist.”

Taylor is a busy guy. A few hours a day he’s program director and on air at Lincoln radio station Red 94.5. The rest of the time he’s doing that wide range of things for the business he’s built for more than a decade.

“I would say this started in high school,” Taylor says. “I was hosting pep rallies. I was probably a junior, like 11th grade. Hosted pep rallies and I really saw the people responding well, and I never felt good about being in front of an audience. That wasn't my favorite part. It was the fact that the audience responded.”

Before that there was beatboxing. Something the high school freshman on the marching band drumline, with an ear for percussion and rhythm, discovered and fell in love with.

“When I first started, it was the thing. I was D-Wayne Beatbox,” he says. “Beatboxing is the art of producing sounds using your nasal cavities, your lips, your tongue, your teeth, your vocal cords. It's anything in your body that you're doing to produce percussive sounds. It's a hiphop art form, right? One of the pillars of hip hop. You got your DJing, your MCing, your graffiti. But beatboxing is definitely another pillar.”

Back when he was just D-Wayne Beatbox, starting college, TedX Lincoln invited him to give a presentation about the evolution of the art form. What happened afterwards was an aha moment for the entrepreneur.

“The emails I got said nothing about my noises,” Taylor remembers. “’Great presentation, would you mind coming and introducing blank, blank, blank, blank, blank.’ This skill that I've been building all these years, because at this point it's 2012, and I had started my public speaking journey in like 2009, so at this point I go, ‘whoa, all those skills that I had built were the ones that got their attention, not me making all this noise.’ That was my aha.”

He still beatboxes. But after UNL’s Engler Entrepreneurship Program helped him hone his plan, Taylor grew his business. His alma mater is a frequent client. Like sports and that new student welcome event. But he’s also at the BigTen baseball tournament and Supernovas volleyball and does voiceover and on-camera work for lots of corporate clients. He’s been the face and voice for big things like the College World Series. Powerful things like an event helping vets transition to civilian life.

But nothing like Volleyball Day in Nebraska last August. More than 90,000 people saw Taylor at work that day. For much of the afternoon and evening he was playing music and making announcements from a workstation with turntables and computers. When it came time to announce the attendance records set by the event, he was front-and-center on the volleyball court in front of all the fans and a national television audience.

“This is awesome,” Taylor said that day. “To feel the energy and know that everyone is happy, everyone's on the same page and I just get to add to it and push it a little bit.”

Taylor had offers to take an easier road, a steady job doing similar work for someone else. He’s resisted that temptation. He says the experience of working at Volleyball Day helps reinforce his decision.

“This is my life's work. I think over the past probably year and a half, I have made that realization, which I've been doing it for awhile, so it's wild to think that being a master of ceremonies is actually my life's work and it feels like it.”

D-Wayne nebulizer0.jpg
D-Wayne Taylor uses a nebulizer before the Big Red Welcome event (Justin Cheney/Nebraska Public Media image)

How does a vocal entrepreneur prepare? Taylor talked to us about his routine before the UNL Big Red Welcome event.

“I take my time and sit a lot in silence first. I take my time in my car, listen to my music, and then I turn it off and just try to focus on what I want the event to sound like and feel like.”

There is script review, a little stretching and visualizing the outcome, kind of like a golfer. He also uses a nebulizer that delivers isotonic saline directly to folds of tissue in the voice box that create sound.

“I'd say the part that people see me for, the on stage or encore or something like that, that's probably the last five to 10 percent of what I have to do.”

Do people understand this level of professionalism happens with what he does for a living. “No way. No way. People definitely are like, 'Do you just make that up? Do you just come up with that on the spot?' And sometimes I do and I have to, but no.”

Watch our Nebraska Public Media "What If..." series story about D-Wayne Taylor.