Disc jockey spins his last

"Stop and Smell the Roses," by Mack Davis was the song of the day when Rick Allen started in radio 32 years ago.

On Thursday, the lively DJ of KRAI officially signed off on his nearly 10 years with the Craig station.

When Allen first went on the air, employees at Craig's MJK hardware store would schedule coffee breaks around his show. Other residents taped show recordings so they wouldn't be missed.

Allen's booming voice was still distinguishable amid a sea of well wishers who dropped by the station at the Centennial Mall to offer good-byes last week.

Many offered praise to the radio announcer who spearheaded the successful annual Holiday Drive and covered a multitude of local school sports.

Gifts from local law enforcement officials portrayed Allen's playful nature.

One framed picture showed him announcing the Holiday fund-raiser in a straitjacket. In another, Allen lies grinning after being tossed into and handcuffed to both a shopping cart and a giant stuffed pink pig while surrounded by jeering police.

"Thanks, but that's our job," Allen said matter-of-factly after receiving compliments about local coverage.

Allen is moving to Thermopolis, Wyo., where he'll manage a dollar store. The 46-year-old DJ is moving partly because of personal issues and for the opportunity to be closer to family.

Though the departure is heartbreaking on one hand, it also promises a new beginning.

"It tears me up to have to leave, but I look back and I'm proud of the people I've worked with and the things I've done," he said, close to tears.

Involved in many of the town's nonprofit activities, Allen said the extra work, "stretched me a little thin."

"It got to the point where I wasn't taking vacations anymore or wasn't going anywhere when I took vacations," he said.

One thing he won't miss is the ritual 3:30 a.m. rising to report to work. Still, it may be impossible for Allen to sleep later than about 5 a.m. after years of the early bird schedule, he said.

An admitted music junkie, Allen cringed at not being able to be the first one to put his hands on new music. But as an entertainer, he's also looking forward to seeing the reaction to jokes and the one-on-one interaction managing a store will bring.

Being a DJ is a transient occupation by nature, yet Craig is "the hardest place I've ever had to leave," he said.

"There are a couple places I've wanted to leave but this is not one of them," Allen assured.

Allen brushed aside concerns that the station would go downhill without him.

"The radio station has been here for 40 years before I got here, and it will be here long after I leave," he said, music pouring into his office through station walls. "There'll be other Rick Allens. They'll get used to the change and I'll get used to my new life."


Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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