Dear, good KUSC listeners, notably KUSC listeners who have inquired about my absence from the air waves, please accept my plea for your forgiveness for keeping you in the dark, and my deepest thanks for your heartfelt messages. My heart has been broken by them, so I must break my silence.
I have Parkinson’s disease. My most excellent doctors tell me I am second stage, which doesn’t seem so far along to me so long as there are not just three stages. In fact, there are five, and I wasn’t even feeling symptoms from stage one, when suddenly my voice began to stutter, flutter and slur. Suddenly, the simple act of talking, the DJ’s essential skill, was slipping sloppily through my fingers. Suddenly, I could do only partly as well things I’d done well for forty years. This I could not tolerate. I don’t think I’ve ever tolerated doing something poorer than I’d done before. But there I was, losing my timing this late in my career.
It gave me pause, not a frightened pause, a pause of clarity. The hours & commute (4 a.m., 1 hr., 13 yrs.) it’s enough to wear down Sisyphus. I’ve been called Herculean, but I’m no Sisyphus, and the heavy load eventually staggered me.
What happened? In early January, I stepped away from the mike, and during the past months I’ve tried to do what has never been done, turn back the oncoming tide of Parkinson’s. I’ve tried to restore my verbal skills, articulation, elocution, organization, the whole package, to their pre-pd levels. The best I can report is that the levy is holding but for how much longer with the tide coming in? (I hear a country song in there.) At home with my rediscovered family I stay, thinking deep and feeling well. I have not been ill or injured during any of my leave from KUSC, contrary to circulating rumors.
What will happen? I’m counting nothing out, even miracles, where it comes to the geniuses at Keck Medical, but I think I must wait a while longer to know for certain. In the meantime, gramercy to Alan Chapman for his splendid work in the morning, and to you (I could not possibly start naming your names lest I name names until my thumbs fell off), who’ve made it worthwhile for me to rise and drive to work each day in the middle of the night, for these many years, so I can play great music for you as you start your day. It’s been a privilege and an honor. Don’t worry about your friendly DJ. He’ll be OK. This is not good-bye, but please excuse me while I remain off the air for now, and get more sleep. Thank you, oh thank you! Peace be with you.