Hard to believe it’s been five years since Tom Rivers died.
Tom was a legendary broadcaster whose career spanned the breadth of radio, from the days when DJs chose their own music to the current climate of corporate governance. He was endlessly creative and a warm, funny dude to the core. A mountain of a man, in size and in talent. I’m extremely fortunate that I got to work with him on a long-ago morning show.
I have a small stack of Rivers stories of my own but two stand out for me today. First, that he was the only person on staff at the MIX with the balls to tell me that I was being passed over for a job I thought I had in the bag. A cone of silence surrounded the coup but Tom – fuelled by a little courage in a bottle – was honest and forthright, knowing that bad news is best heard from a friend and that a true friend tells it like it is. It was incredibly decent and caring of him to treat me with the respect that my managers were not showing me at the time.
The second is when he started on air at JACK down the hall from 680 News. I was a little nervous at what kind of reception I’d get when I popped in to say hi. It had been a long while and the last time we saw each other was as he was being ousted from the MIX. I need not have given it a second thought. Upon seeing me, that massive bulk of a man sprang up from behind the board and enveloped me in a bear hug that lasted for days.
Tom Rivers’ influence lives on and broadcasting is a little worse off without him. He would have hated the way radio has been going – from a creative hub to corporate cog. I had heard he was writing a book and I would have loved to read it but it appears it didn’t get finished. The best legacy one can hope for is that people smile when they think of you and I’m grinning widely today.