Art Chowder May | June 2017, Issue 9 - Page 44

Local Radio the “Harder” Way HOT DOGS AND HOT HITS BY JANIS V. BERS The mere mention of a hot dog, and you conjure up visions of a tasty American staple served up at sporting events and barbe- cue cookouts. Here in the Inland Northwest, you might also be reminded of one of our region’s most well-known and well-loved radio personalities, the man who quite literally became Spo- kane’s very own “human hot dog”! That moniker rightfully belongs to this issue’s featured perform- ing arts guest interviewee, Rob (Hot Dog) Harder. It’s no accident that so many of us are very familiar with Rob’s rich personality-filled voice. We have been inviting him into our homes for decades! Even from his early childhood he single-mindedly set out to make radio his life’s sole mission. It all began when Rob built his own mock-up radio station out of Lego bricks in his bedroom and began emulating his then-heroes on the radio stations to which he avidly listened. Those Lego bricks eventually turned into Rob’s real building blocks, initiating his chosen career in professional broadcasting. He enrolled in the broadcasting program at Spokane Commu- nity College where he excelled at every level. So much so, that the department head helped Rob get his first full time position at semi-automated Spokane station KEZE. He was to work over- nights from 12 midnight to 6am making sure the pre-recorded programs were being broadcast, and then every hour on the hour Rob was to read the day’s news headlines live on air. Not a bad start, but Rob was constantly setting his sights higher to realize his main ambition of becoming a bona-fide live radio DJ. After 18 months of cutting his teeth at KEZE, a timely new oppor- tunity arose at South Hill’s top 40 music station—97 KREM gave Rob exactly the opening he was aiming for, and it was then and there that Rob’s warm friendly voice quickly began to get noticed by a welcoming radio listenership, as Spokane’s newest live radio DJ personality. This was a very fortuitous time for many of Rob’s expectations and aspirations to come to fruition, because it wasn’t very long until Spokane was thrust under the global spotlight and became host for the prestigious 1974 World’s Expo. Now Rob’s audience rose from thousands, to literally millions, as people from every corner of the globe flocked to the Lilac City to be part of this momentous event. 44 ART CHOWDER MAGAZINE Rob”HotDog” Harder Rob Harder soon realized that he and his fellow radio colleagues had amazingly ac- quired the recognition and elevated status, which up to this point was reserved for Hol- lywood movie stars and TV personalities. They had indeed become celebrities in their own right and were very much revered and regarded as such by their ever-growing legion of listeners and fans. Radio itself was also expanding its horizons by taking live shows out of the studio and going directly to the public. DJs were no longer anonymous “voices on a stick”, but