Bob Rivers

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Bob Rivers
Born Robert "Bob" Rivers
July 7, 1956
Branford, Connecticut
Occupation Radio Host/Musician
Years active 1987–present
Spouse(s) Lisa Rivers
Children Keith Rivers, Andrew Rivers

Bob Rivers is an American rock and roll radio on-air personality in the Pacific Northwest, as well as a prolific producer of parody songs, most famous for his Christmas song parodies.[1] His album Twisted Christmas was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.[2]

Rivers' most recent radio program, The Bob Rivers Show with Bob, Spike and Joe, is broadcast on Seattle oldies station KJR-FM after a previous iteration was aired on another local Seattle radio station, KZOK-FM, ending in 2010.

Rivers plays keyboards for a cover band affiliated with the show, Spike and the Impalers.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Rivers was born in Branford, Connecticut on July 7, 1956[5][6] and raised as a Catholic. On the air, he occasionally refers to the work ethic and competitive streak he learned from his parents. He is the oldest of several children in his family; next in line is Beth, and his other three sisters are Patty, a school teacher, Mary, and Catherine.[7] He has a brother, Michael, fifteen years younger.[8]

He knew from an early age that he wanted to be on radio. At the age of 15, he released a bootleg AM broadcast from the basement of his family's home (a prank which his mother put a stop to).[2] He also started a high-school radio show. He got his first paying radio job when he was 16, but reputedly was fired for playing too much Led Zeppelin.[4]

On the air in Connecticut[edit]

Rivers got his start as disc jockey in Connecticut, where he was heard on WAVZ, WNHC, WCDQ, WELI, WFIF, WCCC-FM, WWCO, and WLIS.[1]

WAAF Bob and Zip[edit]

Bob Rivers spent almost 6 years at WAAF in Worcester, Massachusetts (in the Boston market), as part of their successful Bob and Zip morning show with fellow on air personality Peter "Zip" Zipfel.

During his tenure with WAAF, Rivers started producing parody and novelty songs, both for the station and for the KATZ/Newcity "American Comedy Network", a radio syndication service that provided comedy material to local U.S. and Canadian radio stations. One of the first parodies he produced was "Breakin' Up Is Hard On You", about the lawsuit and the resulting Bell System divestiture, the court ordered split up of U.S. telecommunications company AT&T's Bell System. The song was sung to the tune of Neil Sedaka's #1, 1962 hit Breaking Up Is Hard To Do and peaked at #70 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart.[9] He followed it up with "Just a Big Ego," a parody of David Lee Roth's version of Just a Gigolo. It went on to be included on Volume 2 of The Rhino Brothers Present the World's Worst Records and had a music video produced by Steve Rotfeld for Bob Uecker's Wacky World of Sports.

In 1987, Rivers released Twisted Christmas, which contained the Christmas music radio hit Twelve Pains of Christmas, a parody of the holiday standard The Twelve Days of Christmas. Twisted Christmas was certified a gold record.

WIYY "98 Rock"[edit]

In the spring of 1988, at Baltimore radio station "98 Rock" WIYY-FM, as a lead morning show personality between 1987 and 1989, Bob Rivers gained national attention for an 11-day, on-the-air marathon during a Baltimore Orioles losing streak. He vowed to remain on the air until the Orioles won a game. He kept his vow and became a local celebrity among Orioles fans for his pledge.[10]

During his time at 98 Rock, he and WIYY radio collaborated with Sheffield Recording Studios to continue his campaign of Twisted Tunes.

In just under two years after joining WIYY, Rivers increased the station's morning show's ratings by about 65 percent.[11]

A few weeks before Rivers was fired from WIYY, he met James (later "Spike") O'Neill, who was working at a used car dealership. O'Neill's father owned the dealership and advertised on the show, so Spike objected to Rivers's song "Hyundai, Hyundai (Can't Trust That Car)," a parody of Monday, Monday by The Mamas & the Papas. Rivers met Spike to test-drive a Hyundai, and Spike either "talked his way" into an unpaid internship on the show[4] or, in his own words, "[Rivers] had taken them [WIYY] from worst to first and they offered him an insulting pay increase to renew. He went public with their insult and at that point they took him off the air for the rest of his term. He met me and invited me in as an intern. When he left, he thought enough of me to ask me to join him."[12]

KISW Twisted Radio[edit]

Arriving at Active Rock radio station KISW-FM in Seattle in 1989, Rivers debuted a morning show with fellow radio host Sean Donahue, also from Baltimore. Their chief rival was the station KXRX. Rivers brought Spike O'Neill with him; Spike served as sportscaster, writer, and impressionist. They spent "six weeks of 14-hour days doing production and brainstorming and writing" before their first show on air.[11]

Rivers released a second album of humorous holiday-themed music in 1993 entitled I Am Santa Claus (the title track was a parody of Black Sabbath's song Iron Man).[13] Since then, three other Christmas-themed albums have been released, including: More Twisted Christmas (1997); Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire (2000); and White Trash Christmas (2002).

Bob Rivers and his Twisted Radio show have also produced a countless number of regular, non-holiday parodies covering anything from pop culture to politicians, to the various sports teams and players in the Seattle area. These "Twisted Tunes" can be heard for free on his website. CD compilation albums are also available.

In 1999, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that, after 10 years at the station, Rivers had the longest tenure of any radio personality in the local market.[14]

Rivers and his cast sat out a year's non-compete period when their contract with KISW ran out.[15]

KZOK The Bob Rivers Show[edit]

In October 2001, the cast and show moved to KZOK,[16] where it played through September 30, 2010. O'Neill was added to the show for a slate of talents that include vocal impersonations (as of Rush Limbaugh, for example) and improvisation.[4] The producer was Mike Jones; Arik Korman, a 2001 Visionary Award winner, joined the show as director in 2002;[17] news and comedic commentary were provided by Maura Gallucci and, for a few years, Kaci Aitchison (who also is a singer with Spike and the Impalers).

The Bob Rivers Show was simulcast on Portland, Oregon "1980s Rock Hits" radio station KVMX (now KXJM) "Mix 107.5" from 20 March 2006 until 5 October 2006, when the station dropped the morning show and switched to a Rhythmic Adult Contemporary format under the new branding "Movin' 107.5".

The cast would occasionally perform on-air skits, such as a famous parody of The Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy and the Wizard (the latter voiced by Spike) are trying to bring Brian Bosworth (a former Seattle Seahawks linebacker nicknamed "The Boz") back "home" to Seattle.

Another favorite was a contest between two callers-in to speak the roles of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler in the last lines of Gone with the Wind, beginning with the line "I'm leaving you, my dear. All you need now is a divorce and your dreams of Ashley can come true." Caller-in Kim played Scarlett to Spike's Rhett, then caller-in Robert played Rhett to Spike's Scarlett. (Both contestants spoke with true Southern accents.) Spike ad-libbed many lines. For example, when Kim as Scarlett exclaimed, "Rhett! Rhett, where are you going?" Spike as Rhett replied, not the film's actual line, "I'm going back to Charleston, back where I belong," but: "I'm going to Rick's on Federal Way! Where I belong." (Rick's was a strip club.) When contestant Robert played Rhett and delivered the line, "Here, take my handkerchief," Spike as Scarlett used the handkerchief in a noisy and unladylike way. Listeners who called in got to vote on the better contestant, and Kim won the prize, probably in part because of her tearful, yearning cries of "Rhett! Rhett!" (Spike said in awe to her, "Seriously, did you just lose a puppy or something?") The prize was Fandango movie tickets.

In 2007, Spike O'Neill, in charge of sports news, persuaded former Seattle Seahawk placekicker Norm Johnson into an extended interview about Johnson's having saved the life of a woman, Virginia Sayson, who was trapped in an overturned car in a ditch in Silverdale, Washington. Rivers's and O'Neill's admiring and humorous interview, and Johnson's modest replies, turned the local-interest story into national news.[citation needed]

KZOK gained world renown when they partnered with World Vision International for what was to be a one-day "radiothon" to sponsor 400 children in poor nations. (Rivers credits director Arik Korman for "getting me started" with World Vision.[18]) By the count of listeners who called or wrote to the station, they soon found sponsors for more than 3,000 children in Senegal, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, and other Third World countries.[17]

Toward the end of this decade, the station added television cameras to the studio; streaming videos of interviews and musical performances can be seen on station websites. Mike Jones left the show when cameras were introduced.

Rivers's show left KZOK when he could not reach a contract deal with CBS, the owner of the station.[19]

KJR-FM The Bob Rivers Show with Bob, Spike and Joe[edit]

On January 2, 2011, it was publicly announced that the show would return to the air on April 1, 2011 on KJR-FM.[20]

The Bob Rivers Show cast at 95.7 FM includes Spike O'Neill,[21] Joel "Downtown Joe" Bryant,[22] newswoman Jodi Brothers,[23] director Arik Korman,[24] and producers Luciana Bosio[25] and Pedro Bartes,[26] a married couple who also contribute news and jokes on air.


The Show provides a mix of classic rock music, comedy, discussion of current movies, sports news, local news (everything from bikini baristas to suburb-invading raccoons), and national news. Rivers, O'Neill and Bryant interview musicians, actors, comedians, authors, and, infrequently, local politicians. A friend of the show, attorney Shawn Alexander, frequently calls in or is consulted upon all sorts of legal issues. O'Neill, Rivers, and Brothers provide running comedic commentary to the news stories.

Over the years, between the news and music segments, Show members have frequently discussed the lives of their families, with emphasis on the pleasures and perils of parenthood. Rivers and his wife, Lisa (whose one-time relationship with Steven Tyler sometimes provides fodder), have two twenty-something sons: Keith, a film-maker, and Andrew, a stand-up comedian. Spike talks about how he and his wife, Melissa, steered their daughter Riann through her teenage years until she was hand-picked to become manager of a clothing/fashion store in New York, and about their much younger daughter, Darby. For years, Joe has provoked laughter and derision from callers-in by discussing how he and his wife, Kelli, allowed their school-age daughter Emily to eat whatever she wanted for dinner (chiefly chicken nuggets), while dealing with his own preference for overeating and drinking. Arik Korman and his wife Monique adopted a Thai boy, A.J., and Arik has studied the Thai language himself in order not to lose that part of A.J.'s heritage. Luciana Bosio and Pedro Bartes provide another side of Americana by discussing their ongoing attempts to earn legal citizenship and Pedro's disinclination to learn to drive a car.

The cast also occasionally discuss the children they sponsor through the aegis of World Vision International.

Rivers almost daily invites listeners to call in or text the show with guesses to questions or autobiographical anecdotes illustrative of a given topic, usually a topic in the news. (On May 8, 2013, an example of the latter was, "Have you ever participated in a practical joke that went wrong?"[27]) These segments are prefaced with a musical sting and the lyric "Is there anybody out there?" Prizes, such as tickets to upcoming musical events or Spike and the Impalers CDs, are given to callers-in who correctly guess an answer (for example, "Which flavor of ice cream is more popular nationally, chocolate or vanilla?").

Show members also read aired advertisements for businesses local to the Seattle-Tacoma area.

Personal life[edit]

Rivers lives in North Bend, Washington with his wife, Lisa, where he gardens, tends to his bees and chickens, hikes, and records and plays music in his home studio.[4] To fight his fear of flying, he learned to fly a plane, and eventually bought his own.

He talks freely on the air about his hard-partying days, which ended when he entered rehab to treat his alcoholism in 1989, when he moved to Washington.

Plane theft[edit]

In 2009, Bob Rivers' Cessna 182 was stolen from the airport at which it was based by Colton Harris-Moore, who flew it to Yakima, Washington, landing the plane excessively hard and then fleeing the scene. The Cessna was declared a write-off by Rivers' insurance. Rivers publicly condemned the theft and decried Harris-Moore's legend status, telling a news reporter, "I'm not a fan of the media frenzy because I don't like the whole cult hero thing, but if keeping it alive helps solve it, then I think it's worth it."[28] He said on the radio, "I don't buy this folk-hero stuff. I was furious that something like this could happen. I really want him caught."[29]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Holiday US US Heat US Country
1993 I Am Santa Claus 23 106 1 Atlantic
1997 More Twisted Christmas 13
2000 Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire
2002 White Trash Christmas 42


Year Album US Holiday Label
1994 Twisted Christmas 19 Atlantic
1997 The Best of Christmas Tunes, Vol. 1
The Best of Christmas Tunes, Vol. 2
The Best of Twisted Tunes, Vol. 1
The Best of Twisted Tunes, Vol. 2

Film appearances[edit]

  • Bob Rivers, who is a science fiction fan, appeared as an extra in two Star Trek: Enterprise episodes. The first was Zero Hour, in which he acted as a Lieutenant. It was filmed April 29, 2004.[30][31] The other episode was the series finale in 2005, "These Are the Voyages...",[32] in which he appeared along with a KZOK contest winner, Amy Ulen; they both played Engineers.[33]
  • Rivers executive-produced a 7-minute documentary, Senegal, Africa: Through My Eyes, in 2009. It was directed by his son, Keith Rivers, and was made with the cooperation of World Vision International, whose efforts Rivers supports through occasional on-air broadcasts and by traveling, with some members of the Show, to countries such as Senegal, Malawi, and Bangladesh.

Awards and honors[edit]

Rivers was twice voted Radio & Records' major market Rock Personality of the Year and has been Billboard's Radio Personality of the Week.[34] At the Puget Sound Radio Broadcasters Association's annual awards banquet, he has won three People's Choice Awards for the Best Minute of the Year in Seattle Radio.[35]

Critical acclaim for The Bob Rivers Show[edit]

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote in 2005, "The mixture of talk (with such long-running cast members as Spike O'Neill and Joe Bryant), interviews and song parodies has consistently been one of the top-rated morning shows in the Seattle market."[36] A Kitsap Sun columnist agreed: "As much as I treasure the information I can get from a couple of hours of NPR, I've found it's hard to pass up the mix of pop-culture info, topical news, off-the-wall humor and wealth of interviews I can get from Bob, Spike and Joe."[37] KING-TV has called Rivers "one of the Northwest's most popular personalities."[38] Cynde Slater, a radio talent scout who hired Rivers to work at WAAF in 1985, said of Rivers's talent for making comedy out of topical subjects, "Bob has the ability to seize the opportunity. He does that better than anybody I've ever met."[11]

A lengthy 2012 article in The Seattle Times praised Rivers for his wit and philosophy of perseverance.

The radio business is changing: Fewer stations, fewer jobs, fewer personalities. But for nearly 23 years, Seattle has been listening to lovable misfits Bob, Spike and "Downtown" Joe Bryant. Since April 1, 2011, after adding Seattle radio veteran Jodi Brothers to the mix, they've been cracking wise from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays on KJR. The show is consistently one of the top three in its time period with the all-important 25-to-54 age group, along with The BJ Shea Morning Experience on KISW and Morning Edition on KUOW. It's the last remaining local talk/entertainment program on Seattle morning radio — others play music between gabbing, or focus on news...
Everything's rainbows and great ratings now, but the incredible longevity, the easy chemistry and current success of these radio survivors has been hard-earned. Their long, strange trip has included failed contract negotiations, cast changes, rehab, a lot of work and a recent health scare. But as the show and its players have evolved, there has also been laughter, love, support and family. Always, family — on and off the air.[4]


  1. ^ a b Rivers, Bob. "Staff: Bob". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Stout, Gene (December 18, 1997). "DJ's Twist on Christmas Scores Big - KISW'S Bob Rivers has Third Holiday Album Out". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. E1. 
  3. ^ Spike and the Impalers on Myspace
  4. ^ a b c d e f Reader, Bill (September 28, 2012). "Seattle's Bob Rivers: On with the radio show!". The Seattle Times. p. 10. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ Rivers, Bob (July 8, 2013). "The Bob Rivers Show, July 8th, 2013 - Part 1". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved July 12, 2013. "Today is Monday, the 8th of July. It is NOT my birthday; that was yesterday. Pedro is still insisting on hooking me up with various family members, and people singing Happy Birthday." 
  6. ^ Rivers, Bob (May 24, 2013). "The Bob Rivers Show, May 24, 2013 - Part 1". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 28, 2013. "The [Skagit River] Bridge was built in 1955, the year before I was born." 
  7. ^ Rivers, Bob (July 8, 2013). "The Bob Rivers Show, July 8th, 2013 - Part 2". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ Rivers, Bob (June 12, 2013). "The Bob Rivers Show, June 12, 2013". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1997). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research Inc. p. 13. ISBN 0-89820-122-5. 
  10. ^ Richman, Alan; Katz, Marty (May 16, 1988). "A Baltimore Deejay Survives a 258-Hour on-Air Vigil That Was Strictly for the Birds". People 29 (19). Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Boss, Kit (August 16, 1989). "Radio with a Twist - KISW is Banking on its New Morning Team's Being Attuned to Seattle's Sense of Humor". The Seattle Times. p. G1. 
  12. ^ Radio Online (September 2003). "Straight From The Mouth: The Morning Mouth's September Interview with Spike O'Neill". Radio Online. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  13. ^ Delinski, Bernie (December 24, 1993). "From twisted to traditional, Christmas music sells big". TimesDaily. p. 3B. Retrieved February 26, 2010. 
  14. ^ Virgin, Bill (November 18, 1999). "Bob Rivers Twists the Dial - Does It for a Shocking 10 Years". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. D7. 
  15. ^ "Twisted Radio returns Oct. 1". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. September 9, 2001. p. D1. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  16. ^ Schiffman, Marc, and Bram Teitelman (Oct 12, 2001). "People: Rivers flows again". Rock Airplay Monitor (New York: The Nielsen Company) 8 (41): 3. 
  17. ^ a b Korman, Arik (2009). "Arik Korman: Basic Info". Facebook. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ Rivers, Bob (July 31, 2013). "The Bob Rivers Show, July 31st, 2013 - Part 2". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  19. ^ KING 5 News (September 30, 2010). "Bob Rivers Out At KZOK". NBC - 5 KING (Seattle, WA). Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Bob Rivers Show to return to Seattle airwaves". The Seattle Times. January 3, 2011. 
  21. ^ O'Neill, Spike. "Staff: Spike". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  22. ^ Bryant, Joe. "Staff: Joe". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  23. ^ Brothers, Jodi. "Staff: Jodi". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  24. ^ Korman, Arik. "Staff: Arik". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  25. ^ Bosio, Luciana. "Staff: Luciana". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  26. ^ Bartes, Pedro. "Staff: Pedro". The Bob Rivers Show. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Podcast, The Bob Rivers Show, May 8, 2013 - Part 4". The Bob Rivers Show. May 8, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  28. ^ Stevick, Eric (October 9, 2009). "Teen fugitive Colton Harris-Moore becomes a national celebrity". The Herald (Everett, Washington). Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  29. ^ Broom, Jack (October 8, 2009). "Radio's Bob Rivers owned 1 of 3 planes young burglar may have stolen". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  30. ^ former STARTREK.COM : Article
  31. ^ "Full cast and crew for Star Trek: Enterprise: These Are the Voyages... (2005)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 12, 2013. 
  32. ^ The Bob Rivers Show: Contact Us
  33. ^ "Full cast and crew for Star Trek: Enterprise: Zero Hour (2004)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 12, 2013. 
  34. ^ Coulter, Scott A. (May 24, 2006). "The Bob Rivers Show and KZOK Set a Record In World Vision Radio-thon Fundraising History". Scott A. Coulter. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Bob Rivers". The AudioDB. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  36. ^ Virgin, Bill (July 21, 2005). "Rivers and KZOK Sign a New Deal". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. C2. 
  37. ^ Moore, Michael C. (September 17, 2004). "Rivers & Co. offer a refreshing twist to morning radio". Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, Washington). p. 9. Retrieved May 12, 2013. 
  38. ^ KING 5 News (January 3, 2011). "Bob Rivers Show to return to Seattle radio". NBC - 5 KING (Seattle, WA). Retrieved May 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]