Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Monday, December 10, 2007

Taking the time to listen

In the mornings on my way to work I usually listen to public radio. Since I am often running late, I am frequently tuned in at the point when the local broadcast concludes Morning Edition. After a few minutes of national headlines, there is a local sports report, followed by a broadcast of jazz music.

Being neither a sports fan nor a jazz enthusiast, I usually switch stations at that point. However, I have become accustomed to hearing the raspy voiced announcer -- who typically would banter with another commentator -- start the report with a standard opener, "Sunshine and blue skies...," which is often a sarcastic remark since it rains a fair amount in Pittsburgh.

Today, I was startled to hear announcer #2 say that there would be no sports report in recognition of the death of Sean Doherty, the raspy-voiced announcer. I was shocked and saddened, especially since I hadn't registered that he had been off the air for quite some time, due to illness. Judging from the sound of his voice, I thought he must have been fairly old, or maybe a smoker.

Neither was true. Doherty was only 47, and had been seriously ill for some time due to complications to a condition he had had since his teen years. While playing on his high school football team, he suffered a spinal cord injury and had spent the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. In all the times I had heard his voice on the radio, I had never known this about him.

In spite of the raspy tone of his voice, Doherty was rather upbeat -- a bit sarcastic, a bit colloquial, but never a downer. In spite of his debilitating condition, he earned a college degree and worked for about 20 years in local sports broadcasting. He was well-known and respected. He never let his injuries hold him back.

His voice became raspy after being hospitalized in 2000 because of a blood clot in his lungs, whose treatment required a tracheotomy. He used his local fame to raise money for spinal cord research, but never asked for pity.

Even though I wasn't interested in what he had to say about sports, I am glad I caught bits and pieces of Sean Doherty's voice over the years. If I had known more about him, I would have listened more.

Apparently, he hoped that his story would help inspire others to realize their dreams. His story has certainly moved me today.


  • At December 15, 2007 at 7:33 PM, Blogger Eliyahu said…

    what a blessing to have read about Sean Doherty! thanks for sharing the story of this remarkable man; truely, may his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.


Post a Comment

<< Home