February 14, 2012
West Virginia DJ listens up to a warning about hearing loss from KISS guitarist

By Douglas Imbrogno

Bill France owes a double debt to KISS vocalist and guitarist Paul Stanley.

If you're not as serious a KISS fan as France is, here's an assist: Among the white grease painted faces of the legendary rock outfit, Stanley is the one with the black star painted over his right eye.

France's first debt is to Stanley and the band's costumed rock music, since it isn't quite accurate to call the Logan County resident a "serious" fan of KISS's raucous, over-the-top stagecraft.

He's a super-fan.

"Gosh, my first KISS concert was in 1978, and I've probably seen them a couple dozen times," said the 40-year-old France, who teaches language arts and broadcasting at Logan High School.

"I've met them several times, and I've actually done some artwork they used on their website. I kind of know all the outer circle. A couple of band members know me by my name -- Paul doesn't."

That will change later this year. France is supposed to meet the band again this summer during the group's 2012 "Monster" tour. "Paul is going to sign my custom Washburn guitar," he said.

The guitar will no doubt earn pride of place in France's impressive collection of KISS memorabilia and tchotkes, which fills a room in his house, including a life-size model of Gene Simmons in full concert regalia glaring from a corner.

"I'm pretty diehard," France conceded.

So, it was with some interest he went to the KISS website in May 2011 and noticed Stanley warning the band's followers about hearing loss from overly loud music -- this from a performer who for decades has sung "Shout It Out Loud" at concerts.

For France, it was a wake-up call.

He's a busy mobile DJ on the side -- is where you'll find out everything about his alter ego, DJ Bill France. He specializes in DJing music for weddings, reunions, birthday parties and -- crank it up, please! -- high school dances.

"The kids love it loud," France noted.

Stanley's message inspired France to have his hearing checked, given how much time he spends in front of blaring speakers, being the sort of DJ who works a crowd. He'd also lately been having trouble hearing students when they asked questions from the back of the room.

He had a series of tests done at a Logan hearing center. The news was both good and not-so-good. "They told me my hearing was on the verge of getting bad," he said.

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