Roberto scares them no longer
That's pretty much Roberto in a nutshell. In a world of shock radio and mudslinging, you seldom hear anything worse than a good-natured jibe from the man who helms the afternoon slot at KORB-FM. Most of the time what comes across from ``Ro'' is, to put it into his seemingly favorite expression, ``all good.''
Since his debut on KFMH-FM in 1989, Roberto has quietly become one of the hottest DJs in the Quad-Cities. After that station went off the air, he hosted ``Off the Beaten Track'' -- a weekly foray into the musically avant-garde -- at the former Power 98.9; less than a year later he landed on the Planet.
He began as just the weekend DJ but soon was hosting his own program, ``Lunar Rotation,'' from 8 to 9:30 Sunday nights. Last year, he was given the morning drive slot at the Planet, but when Howard Stern's a.m. gig was introduced to the channel in December, Roberto stepped aside without a fight.
``Heck, I was just as excited as anyone that Howard was coming on the air here,'' he said at the time. ``I don't mind going to afternoons at all.
``I feel really good about working at the Planet,'' he said in an earlier interview. ``I remember when I worked at KFMH, someone once said to me, `You make your own luck,' and that is so true. If you work hard and just keep on the course, eventually good things will happen. From the time I started at the Planet, I thought I could contribute something to this station, and I've gotten the chance. It's all good.''
Roberto has retained his ``indie credibility'' while climbing the ladder. He'll still introduce cutting-edge tracks on his Sunday show and give them an added spice with his knowledge of contemporary music.
``I've always been into the more unusual music,'' Roberto said. ``I remember having a big, old jam box and listening to Fear, the Jam, Circle Jerks -- bands like that -- with my hair dyed red on the sides and wearing parachute pants, scaring the heck out of the people I was working with. That's what I was doing in the '80s.''
During the Reagan decade, Roberto graduated from the Academy of Radio and Television in Bettendorf -- Spike O'Dell is a fellow alum -- but, unsure of his on-air skills, he became a hairdresser and kept his DJ-ing to the clubs.
Then he met Mary Reilly.
``I was introduced to her through a mutual friend,'' the Rock Islander said. ``We sat and talked a while, and she recognized that I knew music and I was into a lot of the same music she liked. So she invited me to come in and help her out (on KFMH-FM), and we eventually teamed up on `Off The Beaten Track' in 1989. Then she left the station, and I was asked to do the show myself.''
Throughout his ``OTBT'' years at KFMH and Power, Roberto introduced new and unusual artists to Quad-Cities listeners. It was ``alternative'' music before the tag.
When the Planet debuted in spring of 1995, it appeared inevitable that Roberto would be pulled into its orbit. ``It was two forces that were destined to meet,'' he says, tongue in cheek.
``I certainly believe radio is for the people,'' Roberto says. ``I would like to know that alternative means a substitute to the norm, not this word that everyone else is throwing around.
``It's a win-win situation for both of us. I'm growing along with the station,'' he says. ``My goal is to be the best I can be in this area and to expose new music -- that's why I'm at the station I'm at. I do believe in the Planet; I'm excited about what I'm doing.''
-- By Sean Leary (February 9, 1998)
Copyright © 1998 Moline Dispatch Publishing Company, L.L.C.