2015-12-17 / Around Town

Rogers Signs Off After Six Years at WADK

By Olga Enger


David Rogers, a former U.S. Navy Seal and congressional candidate, hosted a radio show in Newport for six years and is now moving on to a new venture. David Rogers, a former U.S. Navy Seal and congressional candidate, hosted a radio show in Newport for six years and is now moving on to a new venture. Six years after David Rogers first sat at the microphone at Newport’s WADK, the host of the station’s Open Forum program has signed off.

A few weeks shy of his 50th birthday, Rogers wrapped up his last broadcast on Friday, Dec. 11. He concluded his ongoing conversation with listeners that has ranged from local politics to international military strategy. Although he did not disclose details, Rogers is leaving the show for an opportunity outside of media that was “too good to pass up.”

Unlike traditional forms of news, talk radio is often provocative and injected with opinions. As a host for a community program, Rogers took a modified approach.

“When it came to topics about Newport, I was careful with my opinions,” Rogers said. “Many of the listeners, especially in the Fifth Ward, grew up listening to WADK. I wanted to make sure I did right by them. These are the people I’d run into at Hibernian Hall. When it came to Providence or anything out of the state, that’s different. I was never criticized for my opinions, but I erred on the side of being boring at the expense of taking harsh sides,” he said.


Rogers used a very cryptic outline of notes to plan the content of his show. Guests often wondered how he segued back to the point he wanted to make. Rogers used a very cryptic outline of notes to plan the content of his show. Guests often wondered how he segued back to the point he wanted to make. Rogers made an exception to his moderate approach when the state installed tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, which connects Tiverton to Aquidneck Island. In the face of strong opposition, the General Assembly terminated the program in 2014, a year after it was introduced.

“I thought that was one we could win,” Rogers recalled. “We have voter apathy. People sometimes need to be led to an issue. I don’t know if my voice did it any good. It’s just me in a room saying stuff. I sometimes wonder if anyone is even listening,” he laughed.

Rogers’ stretch in broadcast media was just one stop in an adventurous lifelong journey. He served as a SEAL for six years, which is the U.S. Navy’s principal special operations force. Among the candidates selected for SEAL training, up to 80 percent do not make it through.

In 1994, the SEAL returned home to Newport to work for his father’s company, Warren Rogers Associates, which provided statistical analysis for petroleum companies. Thirsty for a platform to express his ideas and influence change, Rogers ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy in the 2002 and 2004 congressional elections.

“I did that poorly, running for office,” Rogers admitted. “I was very concerned what people thought of me, which held me back.”

The next years were rocky ones for Rogers.

“I finally admitted I was an alcoholic and went to rehab. I never drank alone, it was always out. It goes back to my concern about what people think. It was about relationships, people. That’s my weakness,” he said.

A few years into his sobriety, a friend suggested the former SEAL take his gift for gab to WADK.

“One day I was just walking by the station. It was a really cold January day. I walked in and asked if I could do the talk show, and they said yes.”

The first time Rogers sat behind the microphone, the nascent host was all too aware of one particular listener — his father.

“I don’t know if I was nervous, but I was definitely high strung be- cause I knew he was listening. After the show, he told me I made some valid points, which nobody could understand because I spoke too fast,” Rogers laughed.

The most contentious issue the radio host covered was the casino proposal, which appeared on the ballot last November.

“I’ve never seen anything polarize this community like that issue did,” said Rogers. “It was amazing how passionate people were about it. On both sides.”

Rogers said he supported the idea, but bit his tongue on air.

“The reason I stayed out of it is that I felt I had a chance to swing a lot of votes. It was going to be decided by a few hundred votes and I could really influence the outcome.”

To prepare for a show, Rogers read newspapers and watched the news and then wrote four sentences on a yellow pad.

“That was my destination. So I walked into the studio only knowing where I was going. How I would get there was just as much a surprise to me as it was to my listeners. It allowed me to use my entire brain and have a rounder presentation,” said Rogers.

After talking about Newport for so many years, Rogers believes the future is bright for the city.

“Newport’s character hasn’t changed for decades because the dynamic, economic backbone is so strong here. We have survived stock market crashes, terrorism. We rolled on,” said Rogers. “We have an amazing town, there isn’t another place like this.”

Ryan Belmore, owner of the blog whatsupnewp.com, is the new host of the Open Forum program.

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