He messed up the call letters to the radio station. His voice cracked. And for a moment, it sounded like Bob Rivers — who has filled morning-drive radio time in Seattle for 25 years — was at a loss for words.
“It’s been a long time and a lot of rock ’n’ roll,” Rivers said from his seat at KJR-FM at 7:45 Monday morning. “I am stepping away from the microphone.”
In other words, he’s retiring.
“The one thing that has happened is that I am about to become a grandfather myself and I no longer want to be running from thing to thing so much,” Rivers explained. “I want to have time with my family, I want to have time with my friends, I want to study music. My bees feel so neglected.”
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Rivers, 58, made the announcement on the air Monday morning while KING 5 reporter Mimi Jung stood beside him doing a live broadcast.
“I did want to retire before I got stale,” he joked to his listeners. “But that was 20 years ago.” Ba-dum-bump.
His last day on the air will be Aug. 8 — 25 years to the day after he first signed on with Clear Channel Communications.
“It was just an accident, and a happy one,” Rivers said of the anniversary, “but I think it signifies that it was time. I didn’t want to be in a 12-by-12 room every day, five days a week, forever.”
Rivers, a native of Connecticut, was just 6 when he called into a radio station and — with the help of his grandfather — answered a question that won a contest.
“I was hooked,” he said. “The moment I was on the radio, I was inseparable from radio.”
He moved to Seattle with his family in 1989. He did morning radio at KISW for 11 years, then moved to KZOK for 10 years before joining KJR four years ago.
On the phone as he drove home to North Bend after the announcement, Rivers was still taking it all in.
“It was surreal,” he said of the announcement. “The thing about this kind of decision is that it’s a long time coming, but it’s difficult because there is so much good in my day-to-day life that I love.”
And yet, he has dreams to fulfill.
He wants to improve his keyboard playing, something he started with his popular Twisted Tunes song parodies and parlayed into playing with two bands, Heart to Heart and Spike and the Impalers.
He started taking formal piano lessons five years ago and wants more time to practice and study. He also wants to write and do a podcast that would allow him to present in-depth interviews with musicians. And he will continue to produce Twisted Tunes.
“Some people hoard junk in their garage,” he said. “I hoard new experiences.”
For now, though, his goal is to get ready for the end.
“I’m actually very relieved that I got the initial announcement out and now I am going to focus on the same thing that I always focus on,” he said. “Make people laugh, have great guests and reminisce.
“I have to commend our management for giving us a two-week party,” he added. “Because that’s what it is going to be.”
Nicole Brodeur: firstname.lastname@example.org