Almost a year to the day after Chris “Boatman” Herlein passed away after a long battle with COVID-19, 94.1 K-Rock (WWKR-FM) has revived the beloved DJ’s show, with a new name and a new voice behind the microphone.
Boatman’s “Shipwreck Radio Show” has been renamed “The Rush Hour”, with local music mainstay Chad Rushing behind the mic. The show premiered on Mondays and can be listened to from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.
During his first few minutes on the air, Rushing told listeners he had “big shoes to fill,” taking over Herlien’s old position. He admitted to being a little nervous, but he found his footing by kicking off the music with Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic.”
Richard Young, president and CEO of Synergy Media, said a year seems like an appropriate time for the station and its audience to mourn Herlein, who died on April 17, 2021, and that the show’s rebranding is a way to move forward in a respectful manner.
“With the loss of an employee due to a tragic event, there is a period of time where everyone involved goes through a process of grieving disbelief, then grief, then acceptance, which can take months,” Young said in an email to The Daily. News. “No one could have replaced Chris immediately. We needed time for the K-Rock audience to adjust to his absence.
He said he felt a year was “long enough for emotional healing,” and also enough time to “pay tribute to who (Herlein) was and what he did for Synergy Media and K- Rock”.
Rushing said it was a bit daunting to step in and fill Herlein’s seat. Rushing was a longtime friend of the DJ, and he said it “didn’t seem right” to continue with the “Shipwreck” name.
“It felt like pretending,” he said. “I think (Herlein) would have been disappointed if we hadn’t decided it was going to be the Chad Rushing show.”
Still, Rushing said it was “absolutely an honor” to take the timeslot.
“It took me a few days to go, ‘I think I could do it,'” he said.
This is relatively new ground for Rushing, who, despite years of experience, is unfamiliar with radio work.
“It’s definitely outside my wheelhouse,” he said. “It’s not every day you get asked to do your own radio show.
“I’m just going to have to rely on 20 years of performing. … It’s going to be different, there won’t be anyone in the room with me, but there will be thousands of people listening to me.
Young sees Rushing’s performance experience as a major asset, and he believes Rushing is the right person to pick up where Boatman left off.
“Chad brings a knowledge of music and experience entertaining audiences from the stage,” Young said. “In this way, there is very little difference between being a musician or entertaining listeners in a studio.”
As for the new show, Rushing still has some loose ends to iron out, but he knows he wants to feature musicians from the local scene.
“I think that’s something that’s missing (in radio),” Rushing said. “Boatman was really good at showcasing local artists, but outside of Boatman there hasn’t been a focus on that, and I want to give back to my music community.”
He would also like to have musicians from West Michigan in the studio with him for interviews, and he hopes to do some promotion for local venues as well.
Both Rushing and Young believe the station’s classic rock format lends itself well to attracting new listeners and promoting a variety of artists.
Young said the format has “a strong emotional connection to its listeners” and “boasts a strong local personality that can relate to audiences through the microphone, and also ‘press the flesh’ at local events.”
“I have 40 years of music to draw inspiration from,” Rushing said, adding that he hopes to introduce people to things they may not have heard before, and rediscover music for listeners. whom they may have loved, but have not yet known. heard on the radio for a while.
Rushing said he was thrilled to have the opportunity, “in a way, to take over from Chris as the voice of Ludington”.
” I love this city. It’s meant so much to me, and I hope I can represent it well, and really bring fun to everyone’s afternoons when they’re dropping the kids off or going about their day,” Rushing said. “I’m honestly beside myself. I’m so geeky about this. I’ve been a musician all my life and now I can help other people discover all of this amazing music out there.
A Facebook page titled KROK Rush Hour with Chad Rushing was launched to give listeners a way to tune in, request songs, and track the show’s progress.