Local Radio Host and Police Dispatcher Dies of Multiple System Atrophy

A local radio host and police dispatcher known as Dr. Rock to his audience in Bakersfield, California has recently passed away due to multiple system atrophy (MSA). You may recognize his voice from KKXX 107.9 FM, where he ran the show during the morning drive time for years. His real name is Rick Neuwirth, and he had a long, fulfilling career surrounded by loved ones.

About Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)

MSA is a rare disorder of the autonomic system, impacting two to five of every 10,000 people. Medical professionals do not know what causes this disease, however, they are aware that parts of the brain shrink. They are also aware patients over the age of 55 live at a higher risk of MSA. Additionally, this disease has been separated into two forms: parkinsonian and cerebellar. Type is based on the predominant symptoms.

General symptoms shared between the two forms include disrupted sleep, irregular heartbeat, bladder problems, emotional disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and postural orthostatic hypotension. Symptoms specific to the parkinsonian form are tremors, a lack of balance, issues with bending the extremities, and slow, difficult movement. Turning to the cerebellar form, symptoms include slurred or slow speech, visual impairment, difficulty swallowing, and issues with movement and balance. Treatment is symptomatic.

Rick’s Story

Rick knew that he wanted to be a radio host from a young age; it was his goal by the time he graduated high school back in 1969. One of his childhood friends, Chris Squires, spoke of the times they used to watch the radio DJs at KAFY radio. He also mentioned how they studied up on Jerry Clifton, a famous DJ of the time.

Both men went on to have fulfilling careers in radio. In fact, Chris was the first person to give Rick time on the air, according to Rick’s wife Judi. From this opportunity, he became the “No. 1 jock in town for morning drive-time.”

Rick enjoyed this position for a long time until the changing landscape of radio pushed him towards another career path: a police dispatcher for the city of Arvin. He began this job in 2002, and it was here that he met his good friend Carl Nicita. Carl spoke fondly of his memories with Rick,

“His knowledge of music — especially from 1960s — was amazing. We played many games of music quiz show on google and he always won.”

Together, the Nicita and Neuwirth families spent a lot of time together, playing board games and going out for meals.

Rick Neuwirth is remembered by his wife, Judi, and daughter, Kylie, alongside plenty of loving friends, family, and radio listeners.

You can read more about his story here.

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