News Maker MOJO

By Eric Gallippo

When did you first find out you have MS?

I woke up one day in November and things were pretty normal, and then throughout the day my vision was a little weird. I went to bed thinking maybe I was just tired. When I woke up the next day, my eyes were pointing in opposite directions and my feet were going numb. A neurologist told me it could be a brain tumor or MS. After hours and hours of tests they said the only logical explanation is MS. At that point, I thanked the good lord above it wasn’t something worse.

How did you react after thinking about it for a while?

At first I was a shocked, but then I kept thinking to myself, I’m not happy that I have it, but I’m thankful I’m somebody who can create awareness.

What made you decide to go public?

When I came back to work after a month off, rather than people asking me a million questions, they offered me information they’d learned about MS. I thought, ’If the 20-30 people I work with are going to take the time to learn, imagine what we can do with 50,000 watts of power and the devoted listeners we have.’ That was a no-brainer decision right there.

What kind of response did you get from listeners?

I was blown away, man. [Starts to choke up.] I get a little choked up when I talk about it, because the response, I can’t even put a word on it: unbelievable, overwhelming. People are writing to tell me about their family member who has MS and welcome me to the fight. I didn’t go public with this for a pity party. I want to step into the ring with MS.

What are you working on to fight it?

We’ve got the MS walk coming up in May. There’s a bike ride in July, and some golf outings throughout the summer. I’m also going to try to create some new things that are a little more rock-oriented, where people can have a lot of fun and still create awareness and raise funds for research and organizations that help people like me. Until you’re humbled by something like this, you really don’t understand the size of the network out there to help no matter what you’re dealing with.

Do you think men have a harder time asking for that help?

I don’t believe it’s a gender thing. I think it’s a personality thing. I’ve known plenty of women who don’t ask for help, too.
It was never an issue for you being on this macho radio station? Never. You know why? Because I know my listeners, and whether it’s a food drive or we’re raising money for a foundation, they will be there. They’re the ones with the tattoos and the ones you might not want to talk to walking down a street at night, but you know what, if something happened to you, they’d get your back. They don’t look the other way. They take it head on.

Has it had any affect on your ability to work? Are you worried about that?

Not today. People ask me, ’What do you think about being in a wheelchair down the road?’ My response is, ’I’m not today.’ I live for today. [Radio] is my passion. I enjoy my work environment, and I’m thankful I get to work at this station. The company I work for has been nothing but supportive. The only way I’ll not be working here and not on the air is if they take me off.

What’s the best part of your day?

There are two things I do everyday. I wake up and see if I can feel my feet. I’m still zero for many at bats on that one, and there’s a good chance I may never get it back. The second thing I look forward to is injecting myself, because every time I do my treatment, I know I’m doing something to manage this disease, and at this point it’s all we can do. As for work, the best thing about my job is helping somebody who needs it. When you see someone’s face light up because you could give him something he didn’t have but needed, it doesn’t get any better than that. Talking to rock stars doesn’t even compare.