Local DJs keep skaters spinning at the rink

Carrie Circosta

Breannah Turner, a DJ at Rocky’s Roller Skating Center in Tallmadge, looks through CDs to play during her shift. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Instead of walking into a building, it’s like walking into a huge carnival. Guests push through the turnstile and the smell of candy and nachos fills the air. There are video games reminiscent of the ’80s, like Atari, a pinball machine and air hockey tables. At the top of the steps there are green, red, yellow and blue lights flashing all over the walls.

Chrissy Roderick works part-time in a place like this, but it’s not a carnival. It is Rocky’s Roller Skating Center, located about 15 minutes from Kent in Tallmadge, Ohio. This skating rink has been open since 1979 and is run by the Rocky family.

Roderick is one of the disc jockeys who work at the skating center. She started in the business when she was 15 years old.

“My mom brought us skating here, and the DJ was female,” Roderick said. “She taught me and when she left I took over her job.”

That was in March of 1988. After working in the DJ world for a couple of years, she took a break. Eventually she came back to Rocky’s in 1998 and has been there ever since.

“If you go professional, you can make a lot of money,” Roderick said. “I was scared to death to do that because of the criticism; you have to have tough skin. It’s hard when you have to satisfy everyone music-wise because you have grown parents and younger kids. You have to intermix styles. Majority usually wins.”

Every month Rocky’s receives CDs with the most popular songs for that month in different genres like pop, country and hip-hop. Roderick plays the music on a huge player that holds two CDs, so one can be playing while the other is being changed, and a separate deck controls volume.

“The music can get repetitive because you know every song out there, and I get tired of it soon,” Roderick said.

Roderick works as a DJ part-time and makes $7 an hour.

“I’ve always said to people it’s not the money, it’s the people,” Roderick said. “If it wasn’t for them I would have left a long time ago. I love (the Rocky family). They’re my family. Plus, if it wasn’t for the Monday ‘adult night,’ I wouldn’t have the majority of my friends.”

Melody Raines is another DJ who works at Rocky’s. She started working there around 2003.

“There was a program through my school called Summit County Youth Employment,” Raines said. “They ask about what interests you and put you somewhere you like.”

Raines said she loves her job because she gets to listen to a wide variety of music.

“Like Kelly Clarkson, right Melody?” Roderick laughed as she hugged Raines. Raines nodded and laughed.

Raines and Roderick both said one of the best memories working at Rocky’s was when LeBron James came to a birthday party at the skating center.

“I jumped in front of him, took a picture and ran,” Raines laughed out. “He was like, ‘Uh, what just happened?'”

“It was so funny,” Roderick said. “But he was really nice about it.”

Raines is a dental hygiene major at Stark State College of Technology and plans to work at Rocky’s until she graduates.

Roderick says she plans on leaving one day but is comfortable where she’s at right now.

Contact features correspondent Carrie Circosta at [email protected].