A radio show based on Jewish teaching changes lives one mission at a time, starting with the Oakland University community.
Junior journalism major Dovid Roetter, 22, and freshman biology major Ashley Roszko, 18, co-host “Bike of Life,” a weekly show on WXOU, Oakland’s student radio station. The show encourages listeners to perform small acts of kindness, such as holding doors for others or calling loved ones, to make the world a better place. The show’s motto: “One mission a week equals one mountain gained.”
Each week’s message is emphasized through music, poetry and stories, and Roetter and Roszko bring in classmates as guests.
Roetter became interested in WXOU when he toured Oakland, and he submitted a demo in November 2015. He was tired of the negativity of everyday news and the vulgarity of other radio shows he had heard. He decided to create a different kind of show.
The idea for “Bike of Life” was born after Roetter rediscovered a poem his sister wrote in November 2009, shortly before she passed away, titled “Riding the Bike of Life.”
Roetter said his sister, Pesha Leah Roetter, always looked for ways to brighten someone’s day. She saved an infant by buckling it into its car seat minutes before a semi-truck skidded into the car, killing her.
The show first aired in January 2016, close to the anniversary of Pesha’s death. Roetter read his sister’s poem during the pilot.
“I did my best,” Roetter said. “I gave other people the bicycles to try to make the world a better place.”
The show involves a lot of preparation. Roetter started looking for a co-host after a successful semester. Enter Roszko, who met Roetter in a Hebrew language class at Oakland.
Roszko’s mother is a Reform Jew, and Roszko had always been interested in deepening her faith. She saw an opportunity through Roetter, who is Orthodox. She was a guest on his show and became a co-host in September.
“The show has gotten so much more life-like since then,” Roetter said. Roszko brought new ideas, music styles and poetry.
Through co-hosting, Roszko said she has learned more about her faith. She often spends Shabbat with Roetter and his family and does her best to keep kosher at the dorm cafeterias. She also started to dress differently.
“I felt different actually dressing modestly,” she said, adding that she feels more pure. “I’m doing my best with what I have right now.”
Roetter said WXOU is a great station because it saw that the show’s messages apply to more than just Jews.
The station also thought highly of “Bike of Life,” helping Roetter and Roszko go live for the first time on Dec. 15.
Sylvia Trocea, assistant program director at WXOU and a junior studying psychology, keeps up with the prerecorded radio shows to check content and offer constructive criticism. She said shows are ready to go live when they flow nicely and don’t have many errors.
Trocea has heard positive responses to “Bike of Life” and said the show has an energetic vibe.
The show underlines the hosts’ Chabad philosophy — everyone can do something to make the world a better place, Roetter said.
“I just know that my sister is smiling down when it plays,” he said.
Roetter goes to synagogue at the Woodward Avenue Shul and was valedictorian in 2012 at Yeshivas Nishmas Shlomo in New Jersey. He is president of the Jewish Student Organization and vice president of Students for Israel at Oakland University; both organizations are branches of Hillel of Metro Detroit.
Grace Turner jewish@edu writer
Catch “Bike of Life” every Thursday from 4-5 p.m. on 88.3 FM or find it on Facebook, Twitter and Mixcloud. Listeners can call or text the show at (248) 370-4274. Senior Grace Turner of Berkley is managing editor of the Oakland Post, OU’s campus newspaper.