Rich Woodruff has the good fortune of being able to combine three of his life's passions, and he is doing well by doing good.
Everyone wants to save the world, make a living and have an enjoyable life. How have you managed to combine all three?
Ever since I was a teenage Air Force brat—son of an airman who performed keyboard when off duty—I wanted to play music. Today, not only am I in the band Bone Pile, but my latest career is about helping people through the American Red Cross, which I also love. My wife and daughter are Red Crossers, too, which is the best.
Most of your career was in music and radio. Tell us about it.
Dad was a phenomenal keyboardist. When I expressed interest in drums, he hooked me up with the percussionist in the airlift military command band and took me to St. Louis to see Buddy Rich and other greats. Throughout high school, I played weekends in bars. I worked through college playing gigs in one of St. Louis' top bands. Dad encouraged a fall-back career, so I studied broadcasting, but I always had a band.
In 1979, I graduated from Southern Illinois University, drove my car with whatever I could fit to Douglas, Ariz., and got hired as morning host at a country station. Soon I graduated to a bigger market in Nogales, Ariz., on the Mexican border, where my music director introduced me to a pretty girl named Margie, who was a teacher. We married in 1981 and moved to Phoenix, where I became the morning show host in the No. 1 Top 20 country market.
Around 2010, I got a great job as general sales manager for six stations in St. George, Utah, where my wife got involved with the Red Cross and I started volunteering. When the opportunity opened up three years ago for both of us to move to Salt Lake and work for the Red Cross, we took it.
You are communications director for the Red Cross in Utah and Nevada. Was that a big change?
I've never loved a job more than this one. It is a privilege to go to disasters and see the mission up close. It really touches me to realize that all the stuff I do contributes in some way to the mission. This morning, I was explaining the free Red Cross flood app. If just one person downloads that app and it saves them, think of the impact we have just by giving people information.
Plus, you still have your music.
I love everything I am doing, especially my music. It's part of my soul. Bone Pile plays at places like Barbary Coast, A Bar Named Sue and Park Silly. I can't imagine not playing.