Six years ago, Dick Rivers was a lewd, cocaine-snorting rock DJ known for his abrasive personality and off-colour jokes on Winnipeg’s Power 97 FM.
Today, Rivers, clean with a new perspective on life, is at the helm of new local Internet rock radio station “The Rooster Rocks” – but that doesn’t mean he’s lost his crude sense of humor.
“That’s just how I communicate,” the wry 39-year-old said in an interview last week, perched behind the soundboard of his new studio on Portage Avenue. “My mom doesn’t even like listening to me, but I’m going to talk the way I talk and be no bullshit. I’m going to talk straight from the hip. There’s no sense in holding back.”
Rivers started his broadcasting career in Saskatchewan, working for numerous country stations under the moniker Corncob Kelly before landing at Power 97 in 1996, though he says the details are fuzzy.
“It’s all a bit hazy from all the drugs I did,” Rivers said.
He was soon caught in the throes of success, enjoying positive reactions at the station, running his own business – Dick’s Pizza – on the side, and hitting up bars every night.
“I lived a dream, it was everything I wanted. Growing up, I dreamed of being in the music business and meeting rock stars and partying like a madman with all the chicks and the drugs,” Rivers said. “I really took advantage of it, and I kind of bought into the whole bullshit. I went nuts, I lived however I wanted to.”
For Rivers, that meant taking cocaine and relying on the drug to make it through each day.
“Snorting is what kept me up. I don’t blame anything on the drugs, it was a personality thing,” Rivers explained. “Once I started doing cocaine, it snowballed. I couldn’t get out of bed without it.”
After he missed two shifts in one week at the station, Rivers was fired in 2003. He moved back to Saskatchewan for a few years to battle a thyroid problem, recoup some energy and clean up for good.
Rivers worked short stints in print, publishing and radio before Minnesota-based West Central Radio approached him about DJing one of their new internet radio stations.
Unwilling to move away from Winnipeg, Rivers bought a portion of The Rooster Rocks and established it locally. The first broadcast went out in early September and has been streaming live ever since.
“It’s a free for all. It’s like the first days of radio all over again. We don’t have any regulations at all. I can say or do whatever I want,” Rivers said, with a big grin on his face. “If I want to play anything, I can play something bootlegged off the Internet right now and I’m not going to get sued.”
For now, the little station relies on website banner adds to cover the bills, but Rivers said paid on-air advertising will soon take effect.
“I don’t see a master plan of this going big. I just want to have fun and to entertain. If there’s one or two people listening, gravy,” Rivers said. “I’m happy to be on the air.”
Listen to Dick Rivers’ radio show Monday to Friday from 7 p.m. to midnight at www.theroosterrocks.com.
Published in Volume 64, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 22, 2009)