by Len Lear
In 1986, after graduating from Archbishop Kennedy High School and living in Roxborough, Bill McMenamin landed a gig as an emcee and house disc jockey at the Chateau Granieri Caterers in Lafayette Hill. He worked his way through La Salle University and then St. Joseph’s University for graduate school.
For years Bill, now 51, brought the Chateau’s dance floor to life. But as people quickly recognized his talent, he began receiving requests to host special events. Soon Bill, with his big personality and boundless energy, found himself running a full-blown mobile entertainment business, McM Entertainment, which he started in 2009 with his wife, Jennifer, now also 51. (They were high school sweethearts.) The couple have four children — Erin, Sara, Drew and Owen.
McM Entertainment, which had 15 part-time and full-time employees before the pandemic, would normally do 70 to 80 socials, fundraisers, school assemblies, trivia event hosting, bingo event hosting, disc jockey services, live acoustic entertainment and corporate team building events in a typical year and another 50 or so bar and pub events.
The largest crowd McMenamin ever entertained was 500 attendees at LuLu Shriners in Plymouth Meeting. It was a trivia fundraising event for St. Philip Neri Parish in Lafayette Hill.
“But my favorite was a fundraiser in support of the American Diabetes Association that we do each year.” He said. “It’s my favorite because it supports my daughter, Erin, and her Team Erin in their efforts to raise money for the ADA. Erin is a type one diabetic.”
McMenamin’s team includes Jennifer, who manages logistics, hosts and operations staff. The team members know how to read a room and get the crowd engaged. Most have been with the company for over five years.
“In the 10+ years we’ve been in business,” McMenamin said, “we’ve emceed countless events, so we know what works. We’ve developed a formula that maximizes charitable giving and ensures your guests have a wonderful time.”
His events, which span three to four hours, take place throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. McM works with schools, clubs, churches, temples, hospitals, sports teams, libraries and non-profit organizations. Among the companies they count as clients are TD Bank, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Keystone Technologies and TRC Market Research. They have staged fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, The Giving Tree, Daily Break Food Pantry, Fox Chase Cancer Center and more.
However, like countless other event companies, McM Entertainment has been devastated by the coronavirus since every one of their events involves large numbers of guests in close proximity to one another.
“When all is said and done, we will have about 25 events cancelled,” McMenamin said.
But like so many businesses, He has moved online (a Verizon survey has found that online video game usage has recently jumped by 75 percent during peak hours), where he hosts “Family Trivia Night” on Thursdays and Saturdays at no cost to participants.
McMenamin’s trivia night may go on for about an hour with five rounds of questions, 50 questions and input from hundreds of participants. In the company’s first online trivia contest, about 100 people took part, but that number keeps growing. According to McMenamin, the latest Facebook video reached 4,000 people. As of April 2, McMenamin had hosted six events, with many more to come. How is he able to do it without charging anything?
“I am lucky because this is a side business for me,” said McMenamin, who is also a human resources executive for a local tech company.
When and if things get back to normal, will he still do the online trivia events?
“We’re putting some thought to that now. It all depends if there is realistically a demand for it going forward,” he said.
For upcoming online trivia contests, McMenamin will ask people to support a gofundme effort in support of the Colonial Neighborhood Council, which manages the food bank in Conshohocken and Meals on Wheels program for Conshohocken, Plymouth Township and Whitemarsh Township. Donations can be made via GoFundMe (www.McMEnt.live).
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