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Former Seattle DJ Dick Rossetti On The Painful Side Of Nostalgia

Courtesy of Dick Rossetti
Dick Rossetti is the subject of a new documentary about his glory days in commercial radio.

This story originally aired on April 29, 2017.

It’s not always easy to come face to face with your past. Sometimes nostalgia is painful.


Dick Rossetti knows this well. He was a DJ for Seattle’s big alternative rock radio station, 107.7 The End, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He lucked into the job, which is normally a super competitive gig that people who are funny on the air take very seriously off mic. This was not Rossetti. This wasn’t something he dreamed about doing. He was a rock 'n' roll guy.


But as it turned out, he loved being on live radio. This was at the height of alt rock music. He got to interview bands like the Strokes and Pearl Jam. Plus, he would take calls and talk to listeners on air. Ultimately, that was his favorite part about the job: talking to all the different people who found comfort in his radio show.


Rossetti left commercial radio in 2006. However, he kept recordings of nearly every hour he was on air. He used to listen to these tapes to get better at his job. It amounted to hundreds of cassette tapes.


Today, Dick and those hours of old recordings are the subject of a documentary by Tacoma filmmaker Isaac Olsen. Olsen has been friends with Rossetti for over a decade and he couldn’t get enough of these old cassette tapes.

"A format like this — where he would hit a button and just put a caller on the air and he didn't know who we was or what he was going to say — a format like that gives you a lot of opportunity to be creative," said Olsen. "There's nothing happening now like it."

So the two of them decided to make a movie about Rossetti’s glory days in commercial radio. It was pretty weird for Rossetti to hear the old recordings again. In fact, it sent him into therapy.

Sound Effect host Jennifer Wing talks with Rossetti and Olsen about the film and why it was so hard to revisit Rossetti's past career.


The film, "Semi-Iconic: The Ballad of Dick Rossetti," premiers June 18 at the Grand Cinema in Tacoma.

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.