Q & A with RRI’s Todd Houston
By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
For this week’s installment of Rockford Rocked Interview, Todd Houston took questions compiled by Gregory Stahl on behalf of Rockford Rocked Interviews.
Rockford Rocked Interview: What was the main goal of having created the Rockford Rocked page?
Todd Houston: The main goal was simple. I started Rockford Rocked as a Myspace page sometime around 2007 because I wanted to pay tribute to local musicians and area bands from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s that never really had a chance to get their work out to the masses like musicians can do today with just a few clicks on the keyboard. I had a handful of audio and a bunch of photos that I initially used to get started. After a while, people started sending me stuff, and it sort of went from there. In 2008, I moved it to Facebook to reach a bigger audience, and that’s when it became kind of an all things Rockford page. It worked out great because I have always been
fascinated by local history. Since then Rockford Rocked has been featured on the FOX 39 Morning Show with Sachelle Saunders, Rockford College Radio, 105 WNTA radio with Paul Youngblood, and featured in a few local newspapers.
RRI: You guys have earned the reputation as being the most fun and enjoyable page about Rockford and the surrounding area. Why do you think that is?
TH: First off, we try not to be so stuffy and serious. At the same time, we still want to deliver accurate information and fun facts. We already have enough negativity surrounding Rockford, don’t we? I think it says it all in our mission statement, which reads: “Making people happy.”
RRI: What are some of the things that people really like to see on the RR page?
TH: Well, food is a big one! Believe it or not, people really connect with the restaurants and drive-ins from the old days. Who doesn’t remember visiting Dog ‘n Suds with your family as a child, or Hollywood restaurant with your pals in high school? Food makes for some great core memories (laughs). People also really seem to like the photos of the old neighborhoods, etc. We try to add a bit of everything to keep it fresh.
RRI: It must be difficult to always have the correct dates and information attached to every post you make. Do you ever have people take you to task on the accuracy of your information?
TH: Yes. We try to provide the most accurate information that we can find before posting anything. Having said that, if we find out that we have made a mistake we always welcome any comments and make the proper changes. Sometimes people tend to remember things their own way so you must be careful! (laughs)
RRI: What was the funniest thing to ever happen in a discussion on Rockford Rocked?
TH: I’m not sure about funny, but some of the coolest things are when people recognize themselves or someone that they know from one of our posts. We have had many, many people thank us in the past for posting photos of family businesses that they have never seen before.
RRI: How about the saddest?
TH: Well, I would have to say one of the saddest is the first time we posted about the Santa Clause parachuting tragedy that happened at North Towne Mall in December of 1965. After the post, we received an email from one of the daughters of Connie O’Rourke, the man who had died in the jump when his parachute didn’t open. She said that she wanted to thank us for the post as she had never seen any of the actual news clippings or articles because she was just a small child when it happened. That was a very heartfelt moment to say the least.
RRI: You said that your initial intent was for the page to be about local musicians and bands from years past. Are you still involved in that?
TH: Yes, I started a page about a year ago called Rockford Area Bands Nostalgia Page that already has about 3,000 people on board. It’s crazy! So many cool photos and audio from local musicians, night clubs and area concerts that I didn’t know ever existed. Who knew Harlem and Boylan high schools used to host big name rock bands? (laughs)
RRI: You have used the same profile photo from the very beginning. The photo is of a girl that looks to be from the 1970s. What made you choose that photo and what’s the story behind it?
TH: That photo was taken at the Rockford Speedway in 1980 at a rock concert by our friend Essaness. I just thought the look on her face captured a certain vibe. A great example of defining pop culture and an era all in one you know? (laughs). Throughout the last seven years or so we have been trying to find out just who this young lady is. We had had so many comments and emails from people saying that they went to school with her, worked with her, and even lived with her! It’s sort of a mystery that may be better off unsolved. It’s just fun to keep wondering.
RRI: Anything that you would like to add?
TH: Yes, one more thing. I once read a quote from a German philosopher by the name of Hans-George Gadamer that I would like to leave everyone with. “History does not belong to us; but we to it.”