There were two incidents upon my failed return to 97.1 FM in 2017 where I should have rode away into the sunset and called it a career. I was clearly still recovering from two strokes that changed me into a different person.
The first incident happened when a black caller called me an Uncle Tom. That happens from time to time when I am not calling for the brothers to revolt and bust a couple crackers upside the head. I had the audacity to disagree with this guy. He said I was a Tom.
Usually that incites me to riot. I might talk about the guys momma and tell him to crawl back to his east side rib shack while I continue to speak to thousands on this 97.1 blow torch.
This time I lacked the energy, wit and desire to fire back. I took the ass whuppin in silence. I could see Valenti and Sully urging me to go after the guy. I let it slide.
That wasn’t me.
The second incident occurred the day after a Michigan State-Wisconsin basketball game. I watched a NASCAR event that day also and was accused of watching the race and not the more important Big Ten basketball game.
Mike and Mike decided to ask me a series of questions to determine if I watched the game. The thing I discovered that day is I could not remember things when under stress. I felt very challenged and stressed at the moment and flubbed ever question.
Again, that was not me. Why did I not walk away then?
Doing radio wasn’t the toughest part of the day for me. It was facing my wife Abs. She’d watch me return home sick and defeated. And she’d cry because this was not the guy she married. I became this new quiet introverted guy.
“You are not a bad guy,” she said to me. “This is just a new guy.”
I felt that I let everybody down and there was no way to make it up. I felt unwanted, unproductive and washed up in radio. I had no business on a high energy, high profile radio show. I let my family down because I’d come home from work most nights as the class clown bragging how I got under Mike’s skin that day. Now I came home as a modern day mummy. I needed a job wearing a shirt and tie typing up reports or writing blogs.
No one was hiring though.
I needed an exit strategy.
I no longer cared that the Detroit Lions have not been to a Super Bowl. I didn’t care about Detroit Tiger losing streaks or about bad draft picks by the Pistons. That is not a good mentality if you are doing talk radio in Detroit.
Here is what kept me going. I had a family and I had kids who I promised a college education even before they were born. I was too young (58) to retire and I needed to push them along financially.
I worked at The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, WDFN and 97.1 because I loved it. Now I was working for money and it felt different. I hated my job because I mostly hated myself.
I tried to come back too soon. None of us at the station knew how to deal with a stroke victim. Me included. My mind was in a different place. I felt disrespected, unwanted and standing in the way of progress at the station.
Valenti asked if I wanted him to treat me differently because of the strokes. I said no. Treat me the same. It was a mistake on my part. I thought he was less tolerant of me and became meaner after my return. That may not have been the case, but that’s the way I felt. Like I said my mind was in a different place — perhaps a darkened place.
I got sick after every show, sometimes fighting the urge to throw up in the car.
I woke up every morning energized and ready to tackle the day. By noon I wanted to crawl up in a shell and hide from society. I was afraid to face callers. I was afraid of my radio partners. I was afraid to look at Ticket Text. I was afraid of me because I didn’t know who this new guy was.
I noticed that most times we made pre-show decisions it came down to a 3-1 vote. Hatchet, Sully and Mike voted one way. I was always the lone wolf.
I was a radio talk show host who didn’t want to talk. How does that work?
Dr. Eislander warned me this would happen, but he allowed me on the air against his better judgement. He knew I’d bug him for the rest of his life about going back to radio. I had to see for myself.
The way he explained it was my brain was rewiring and figuring out how to get my thoughts moving along a new pathway.
In a previous post I wrote that I never want to be on the airwaves at 97.1 and I never want to step foot in that building. That remains true, but it has nothing to do with Mike Valenti, Mike Sullivan or David Hull. It has nothing to do with my exit either. I will keep the real reason to myself.
Even four years later I am not my old self. I believe I can do anything in the world until I actually try to do it. Then I see my short comings and it pains me. I get frustrated and want to scream. But I don’t. Doctors tell me to take it a day at a time. I am still recovering. What they fear is depression. If I sink into a depressed state then its a wrap.
I don’t know what would happen.
I am getting blow back from some in the public who want me to discontinue this blog. They say I am only doing it for the attention.
I do it because its fun. And I do it because of Dr. Eislander. He wants as much joy in my life as possible. He knows I love to write. And since I cannot get a newspaper job he wants me to duplicate my previous life as closely as I can.
Since I cannot perform a daily four hour radio show he advised me to do a couple podcasts a week.
Every day I fight the urge to disappear. Some days I don’t want to talk to anybody. That includes wife, kids. I even stop talking to myself.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: