It’s easy to lose track of time when chatting with Cayman Airways’ customer service agent Stephan Smith. He exudes so much love for visitors and his work that you almost forget you are at the airport, which is no surprise to his co-workers, who chose Smith as Employee of the Year.
Although Smith grew up in North Carolina, New Jersey and New York, his mother is from the Cayman Islands. When he wasn’t in school, he was spending his free time in the Islands. But it wasn’t until seven years ago when Smith landed his customer service agent position at Cayman Airways that he made Grand Cayman his full-time home.
These days Smith’s schedule is full of doing the things he loves most, like his job, DJing for a local radio station and fishing with his close friends and family.
Cayman Airways Skies caught up with Smith to talk about his passion for music, family and what its like to being recognised as Cayman Airways’ Employee of the Year.
Of all your different responsibilities, what is one of your favourite parts about your job?
Each and every day you meet people from different parts of the world, whether they are from the U.S., Canada, South America or the rest of the Caribbean. There is just so much diversity amongst the people you check in. We get a lot of people from Australia. They come because they love the diving here, which is amazing, because they have such great diving in Australia. I have also checked in quite a few NFL football players like Dwight Freeney.
How does it feel to be named Cayman Airways‘ Employee of the Year by your co-workers?
I was surprised and honoured to be nominated and then to be chosen for Employee of the Year — it really humbled me. For me, they are not just my co-workers — they are my family at the airport, and I love everyone that I work with.
How did you get into DJing?
I have been in love with music since I was small, so it’s like second nature. Even as I have gotten more versatile towards different styles, it opens up my mind to a lot of things musically.
I have been DJing for STAR 92.7 for about five years. I mainly play Hip-Hop, R&B and a little bit of everything. I am on air on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 p.m. and on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m.
What is the story behind your DJ name, Special Opz?
I got my nickname Special Opz from my friends in Charlotte [North Carolina] during my sophomore year in high school. When I started getting into DJing I thought “Special Opz… it fits.” From then on, I just ran with that.
What is it like to DJ for a radio station?
It takes a lot of sitting in front of your Mac and going through your playlist, rearranging your playlist and if you don’t like your playlist, doing your playlist over again. It’s all about timing, patience and preparation.
Everybody is listening, so you want to make sure everything is done properly and in a professional manner and still connect with listeners. The more you do it, the more you learn and the more you get comfortable with it.
What do you like to do for fun during your spare time?
I love fishing with my close friends and family anywhere and everywhere I can put a line in the water. I catch plenty of red snapper, barracuda, jackfish and mahi-mahi. I almost caught a tuna, but it broke the line. Then my family, friends and I get together to cook fish and sit down and talk about good times.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I used to breakdance. I am rusty right now. It’s an art form, that has a deep-rooted culture behind it, and there is a lot of history involved. It’s a dance but is more of a lifestyle as well. For me, it’s intertwined with DJing, because everything that comes with dance has to do with music.
Author: Shurna Decou
Photographer: Jim Gates