Wolf's Rock Haus closes its doors
When Wolfgang Gerdes applied for a disc jockey job at a radio station in 1976, he was met with the bleak response that with his hoarse voice, he would never be on the radio.
He would have never guessed he would someday celebrate a 25th anniversary and ending of his own weekly radio show - Wolf's Rock Haus on Alexandria's KXRA92 FM radio. The final show aired last Thursday.
Gerdes spent his early childhood and adolescence in Germany, dreaming of becoming a micro- or marine biologist. His move to the U.S. as a teenager sparked an interest in music. He started listening to albums with friends, which "planted the seed."
Once out of high school, he started disc jockeying for his parents' bar in Lowry. He continued as a mobile DJ for approximately 10 years, when he shifted his focus to radio. Gerdes started the Rock Haus show the third week of June 1987. The foundation of the show was always rock, which included anything from heavy metal to modern rock.
Inspiration for starting the show was Gerdes' yearning for music that appealed to him personally: "It was born out of the feeling that I wasn't hearing the kind of stuff I liked," he said.
When Gerdes approached KXRA management about starting the show, their initial reaction was hesitant: "He wasn't really interested until I said I'd do it for free," Gerdes said, "which was worth it for me."
At the start of the show, Gerdes claimed he had no plan. "I never expected it to go for 25 years," he said, which indicates how his passion for rock music captivated him.
Every Rock Haus show opened up with Gerdes' signature montage, which was the amalgam of numerous rock songs. When asked why the montage never changed, Gerdes would retort: "Did Johnny Carson ever change his montage?"
The rest of the show included trivia, prizes, occasional advertisements and - of course - plenty of rock and roll.
When playing a string of two or more songs, Gerdes would announce that he was "wandering in to the kitchen to have a rock sandwich." Gerdes would also venture into the "basement to pick up some heavy metal," or "travel up to the attic to dust off an odd-ball piece."
More than half of the show was dedicated to listener requests, which was Gerdes' favorite part.
"I'm sure I learned more from listeners than they did from me," Gerdes said. "I've never professed to be a music expert."
This open-mindedness carried Gerdes through. He was eager to play requests and disappointed when he was prevented by inappropriate lyrics or messages.
Gerdes will miss the listeners and the music the most, but he likes the fact that he can keep the music wherever he goes.
"Without the listeners, it would have been a quiet place," Gerdes said. He enjoyed discussing anything from kids to jobs with them. "Those are the kinds of things that really made the show worthwhile."
Looking back, Gerdes doesn't have any regrets about the show. "I don't know that I would have changed a lot of things," Gerdes said, retrospectively. He was aware he erred occasionally, but he noted, "That's how you learn."
Gerdes plans to spend his forthcoming Thursday nights enjoying his children's events that he has missed attending throughout the years, and helping with housework. His daughter, 12, already harbors a propensity toward music, as she is involved with theater and dance. "I think she'll far exceed what I do," Gerdes said.
From being rejected at radio stations to celebrating 25 years of success and fulfillment, Gerdes always tried to leave his listeners with this advice: "Take care of yourself, be good to those you love and always follow your passion."