RR: Yeah, that’s it and I always respected what he did; he got people to listen. And he got people to do that kind of stuff. Not to say he was wrong but his show was diametrically opposite of mine. I was just happy to be there and it was a privilege. Whenever I opened up the microphone I was just so proud to be on KSHE. I just didn’t really care about all the negative stuff because there wasn’t any negative stuff. I wasn’t there to bring the audience down; I was there to lift the audience up. The way I looked at it, someone may be listening who maybe just had the worst f*ing day of their life, and if I could do something, anything, to get them to forget about their troubles just for a second, well that was a part of my job. And that’s always the way I looked at it and life was good when I was at KSHE. I was never a part of all the negativity and some people did it really, really well. And you know, God bless him, but that was never my thing.
ONSTL: After that successful run was over, it was back to Kansas City?
RR: Let me kind of elaborate on that last issue; here’s a quick point. Every once in a while things happen to you for which you’re not quite prepared. Let’s just say sometimes you overstay your welcome. I think that’s kind of what happened at KSHE. When I left, I went across the street to do mornings at The Rock and there were a lot of things said by both sides in the heat of the moment. If I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t have let my emotional side rule my judgment. But there were some things that came down at KSHE that were very disappointing to me and very bad. Things happened that made me realize I really wasn’t wanted at KSHE anymore. In fact, when I was in a meeting with the management at KSHE, it was pretty much laid out to me that my days were numbered for reasons I still don’t understand. So, Mike Doran and I did the morning drive for 2 years at The Rock! and gave KSHE a real run for their money. Then KSHE bought The Rock! and turned it into the news station it is now. It was a very uncomfortable and emotional situation. I don’t think, looking back, I handled it with my best judgment, but I was probably thinking more with an emotional rather than logical point of view.
It was a very painful experience being fired from The Rock by Rick Balis. They just told us all to take our toys and go home. So I went from the Rock to being successful doing mornings at the smooth jazz station (WSSM) and then I got ill. I became very sick and had to leave the business for a little while. Then I went back to work in Kansas City.
ONSTL: Do you want to talk at all about your illness?
RR: I had a liver disease and I had to undergo 6 months of treatment that pretty much knocked the lights out of me. There were days I couldn’t even get out of bed. It was a pretty bad situation; I couldn’t do anything. I had a hard time even functioning. It was pretty debilitating but after 6 months I got better and I was ready to get back into the ring again. Then I got a phone call from a classic rock station in Kansas City, the flagship station of my favorite football team of all times, the Kansas City Chiefs. Being a Chiefs fan is kind of like being a Cubs or a St. Louis Blues fan, you come close sometimes but you can’t quite put your name on it (trophy). I went back to work in Kansas City for a really good guy named Don Daniels. His philosophy to me, doing the morning show, was “You know exactly what you’re doing so go do it” and so it was a fun 2 ½ years and I enjoyed it very much. We put a team together with a couple of Kansas City people who I loved to death and when we started, we were ranked 13th, in the 25/54 demographic and in 18 months we went to # 3. It was a great time, and what happened next is what happens sometimes in the radio business. We got a new General Manager who wanted to bring in his own people. So, for my hard work in taking the station from 13th to 3rd place, I got fired.
After that, I kind of did a self diagnostic on the business, on myself, and where I wanted to go. I had put in about 30 years on air and maybe it was time to do something else.
ONSTL: That something is the online streaming radio station, Planet Radio. How does that work? We know how commercial radio works with advertisers and such, but how does it work online?
RR: Well I don’t make any money with Planet Radio. In fact it costs me money. I do it for the music. Some guys have model train sets or Harleys. It’s my hobby; it’s my Harley. I don’t have to worry about station owners, program directors, or advertisers telling me what to play. I play the music I know to be great -- no matter what. I may play a Led Zeppelin song and then a Carpenters song then a Leon Russell song, then a Motown song. And, who had a better singing voice than Karen Carpenter or Robert Plant for that matter? It’s truly all about the music. There are no genres, or classifications. We like to call it “complete classic rock” with St. Louis classics one minute; some top 40 tunes the next and then some great album rock tunes you won’t hear anywhere else. The audience continues to build day after day.