WEDNESDAY WONDER: Visiting the man who calls our show EVERY DAY.

Kevin is 66. He's blind. He LOVES our radio show for some reason!

December 5, 2018
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We have a man who calls our show every morning at 5:30AM without fail.  His name is Kevin.  Kevin tells us that he ALWAYS listens to our shows, and even records them.  He is 66 years old and resides at Maple Ridge in Oak Creek.  He is also 100% blind - and has been since birth.   For the longest time, he would make mentions of us coming to visit him sometime - so finally I agreed to come and meet him for lunch to see how he lives his life.  Here’s my story about lunch with Kevin – the oldest and most dedicated listener of our radio show.  Because I always wondered - who is this guy?  

I arrived at Maple Ridge just before lunch and asked to see Kevin in his room, a nice girl who just started working there this week takes me back to his room down the hallway.  I also check in with the nurses, so they don’t see some random stranger in his room and freak out.  Luckily everyone in the office, including the woman who escorted me, were all listeners of the show and were excited that I had come to visit Kevin. 

I walk into the room and ask if he knows who I am by the sound of my voice. 

“KEVIN!  Guess who’s here to see ya!?”  I say to him. 

 

 

 

 

“Riggs!”  He says. “I’m so glad you came!”

He was genuinely excited at my arrival and gave me a very warm welcome. 

Kevin LOVES radio.  All radio.  It seems to be the medium that he relates to most, obviously being totally blind.  He has several radios in his room, he listens to and records our show every morning and dabbles with a few other shows as well…obviously he enjoys ours the most.

But something about us he REALLY likes…he especially has a love for Alley.  Told me that her voice had a lot of “zip” in it and he wants to meet her too!  More on that another time…

The first thing he wants to do is have me identify a song he’s been hearing.  He says we don’t say the names of songs often enough and that ‘he loves this one song – who is this?’

He plays me the tape.  Yes, a physical cassette tape recorder that’s hooked up to a radio that allows him to record our shows. 

It’s “Broken” by Lovely the Band.  He also asks me about a song where “the woman singing says ‘just keep breathin’ and breathin’”.  That’s Ariana Grande. 

We had talks about the radio business, and how things have changed over the years and he wants to hear “more people like us on the radio.”  (careful what you wish for – haha!)

Kevin then shows me his braille writer.  It looks like a typewriter, but with only 8 keys…

Obviously, he can use the thing like a champion – and he asked me to give him a rundown of who all is on the show, so he could take some notes in braille!  Check it out:

 

 

Shortly after, Kevin reaches down to his wristwatch and presses a button – the watch then speaks the time “It’s twelve noon.”

“Right on time.  Let’s go to lunch, Riggs, and have some nibbles.”

We walk down the hallway where we sit at a table in the corner, Kevin asks what’s for lunch. 

“Lasagna.”  One of the residents says.

“Oh no.  I hate lasagna!”  Kevin exclaims. 

The nurse brings a tray over to Kevin and removes the cover to reveal not one but TWO bologna and cheese sandwiches. 

“Good news, Kevin – no lasagna just BOLOGNA SANDWICHES!”  (One of my personal favorites)

“Kevin – you like a bologna and cheese sandwich with mayonnaise?!”

“Yep!  Love them!”  he says.

“I think we just became best friends” I said. 

Also...apple pie for dessert.  WIN.

He politely asked if I would mind cutting his sandwich for him to make it easier to eat, so I cut it in to triangles for him.  We spent the next 45 minutes talking about his life, his brothers, the woman who has a crush on him at the home, and of course – radio.  He LOVES radio.  He talked about old Milwaukee radio stations that used to exist and how he used to call them all the time and still calls them to this day. 

I was amazed by Kevin.  That he has gone his whole life without seeing ANYTHING, but still has managed to have a fulfilling life, and still knows how to laugh.   He still has a sense of humor and a zest about the world that would make most people envious.  While he uses a walker to get around, he still is about his wits and knows where he keeps everything in his room down to the last inch.  He can recognize nurses by the sound of their voice, keeps up with all the latest Milwaukee sports, and of course – listens to the radio…A LOT! 

He also has his own "wake up service".  Kevin calls his family and wakes them up EVERY MORNING.  He asked that I give his number here so he can call and wake YOU up, but I don't want to put his number on the internet and risk some weirdo calling him...he's a nice guy, he deserves to have a shred of his privacy still...ya know?

The nurses and everyone told me they haven’t seen Kevin smile like that in a long time, and my little two-hour visit was a bright spot in his life.  I’ll go back and see Kevin again in the future, and of course, will talk to him every morning. 

Thank you, Kevin.  For listening to us, for calling us, and for being an all around cool dude.  I'll be back soon.  

-Riggs