Sunday, August 6, 2006


My little foray into Internet radio at Wide Awakes Radio is not my first experience with radio. The first job I ever had was at a radio station in my hometown.

It was a fun job. Most fun job I ever had. Teenager being paid to sit up late and play songs he likes? Great job.

I left after a bit, but came back. Radio's like that.

One time, we had three salesmen named Bill. One was some young fellow that was a fun guy, but one of those "town to town, up and down the dial" kind of guys. Wasn't there long, but was a load of laughs while he was there.

Another Bill was a former school principal. He was fun. Older fellow, retired from school. But fun. Did sales for a bit, but eventually left.

The other Bill was "Big Bill."

He had the most radio talent of any of the Bills. In fact, he was one of the most talented people I ever met.

Big Bill was ... well ... big. Huge guy. Fat. Obese. Morbidly obese. He was big when I first met him, but he got bigger and bigger over the years. He left the radio station in my hometown once, but like many others, came back.

He wasn't a happy person. He didn't feel good about himself. He didn't make a lot of money. No one at that radio station did. But he sure had talent.

His voice was one of the best ... check that ... the best radio voice of any talent we ever had there. When he tried, that is. He'd sometimes rush stuff, and it'd be below par. But still better than most. When he did put a lot of effort into it, no one at that station was better.

He and his wife didn't get along much of the time. Probably because Bill didn't make lots of money. And because Bill drank. And because Bill was unhappy. But Bill was unhappy because he and his wife fought. And he drank because he was unhappy. And she was unhappy because he drank. And he was fat because he overate because he was unhappy. And he was unhappy because he was fat.

You see the cycle that Bill somehow got into?

It was unpleasant for him. And unpleasant for us to watch.

He'd drive his little truck up to the front of the radio station, get out, walk in, and go straight to his desk because he had to sit down. He'd lots of time fall asleep.

When he left for home, or to make sales calls, he'd head out the front door of the radio station, get into his truck, and then sit there for several minutes. I think he was catching his breath enough to drive.

Bill was in bad physical shape. And that was a shame.

Several years ago, Bill finally decided to do something about his weight. And he did a drastic something. He had weight-reduction surgery.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a story on the NY Times on obesity surgery complications.

The number of such surgical procedures has been rising rapidly, along with the incidence of obesity, which now afflicts about 30 percent of adults in the United States, health officials said.

Obesity surgery is helping thousands of Americans lose weight and reduce the risk of diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, said Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a unit of the Public Health Service. But she added, "This study shows how important it is for patients to consider the potential complications.''

Many of the complications were so serious that patients were readmitted to hospitals or visited hospital emergency rooms within six months.

Bill's surgery was, if memory serves, not what this article talks about, but liposuction. I could be wrong, because I wasn't at the radio station when it happened. But, like those in the article, Bill had complications.

In fact, he died. Went in for surgery and never left the hospital. Bled to death, if I heard right. Again, the details are all second-hand. But what is certain is that Bill had weight-loss surgery and died.

Bill was a heckuva guy. Had lots of problems. But I'm glad I knew him. I just wish he had been able to be around longer. And I wish he had been happy. I hope the talks about baseball and stuff was as meaningful for him as it was for me. If so, maybe I helped bring a little happiness to his life. Or at least took his mind off what made him unhappy.

Bill deserved to be happy. I miss him.


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