Sunday, August 05, 2001

Sports on TV-Radio

Wyche eager to get back in booth

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Thanks to three surgeries, voice therapy, a lot of water, an assist from CBS and a little technology, Sam Wyche will return to the air as an NFL analyst this season.

        “I'm ready to go back,” Wyche said from his home in South Carolina. “I've got cabin fever pretty bad. I can't wait.”

        It's been a long trip back for the former Bengals coach.

        Wyche first noticed health problems about 18 months ago. He was lifting boxes when he became short of breath. A CT scan revealed blood clots in his lungs and enlarged lymph nodes. Wyche had surgery in March to determine if the lymph nodes were cancerous. It turned out they weren't, but during the operation, the nerves to his left vocal cord were severed.

        (Shortly after that, it was discovered he had a heart problem. He's much better now. More on that later).

        With the vocal cord paralyzed, Wyche's voice was reduced to a whisper. He was forced to give up his TV job after one game last year.

        “I thought that was it for me,” he said. “I was done.”

        Wyche has had three surgeries to his throat. The operations, in layman terms, moved the left vocal cord closer to the right so the right one can do the work for the left.

        Wyche also has been working with a therapist at Vanderbilt University to strengthen his voice.

        “If I get plenty of fluids and breathe right, I'm fine,” he said.

        Fine enough to return to the booth, and that's where CBS came in. They put Wyche in a three-man booth with play-by-play man Gus Johnson and analyst Brent Jones.

        “I don't have to talk after every play,” Wyche said. “If voices bother me, Brent can do the talking.”

        Because of technology, Wyche should not have to strain. One of his big problems is when he has to talk over other noise — like in a crowded restaurant. So crowd noise would be a killer.

        But Wyche will wear headphones to block out the crowd and technicians in the truck will raise the volume on his microphone to match those of his partners.

        “I just have to remember to speak in my normal voice like I'm talking to you right now.”

        As for his heart condition — Wyche has cardiomyopathy — he is doing much better.

        “I feel fine,” he said. “We have 28 acres down here in South Carolina, so there's always something to do I have no problem with. My voice is my only problem.”

        Wyche had just returned from Cincinnati where he had his heart tested.

        “I had a scan that showed over the last three months my heart has gotten stronger,” he said. “That's great news because it had been getting weaker and weaker. The medication is working.”

        E-MAIL & VOICE-MAIL: Talk radio, as always, is a hot topic with readers:

        Darrell Evans can't believe WBOB pulled the plug on Ken Broo's show.

        “I thought it was probably the second best local show, behind Lance McAlister's. He had a lot of national guests. I'm sad to see it go. It amazes me that someone like Wildman Walker can have the longevity he has with the talent sitting on the sidelines like Paul Sturgeon.”

        Stuart Hodesh offers this: “When will the radio stations like WBOB and some of the other off beat/low ratings stations learn not to mess with success. Let me offer this: Mike and Mike, Tony Kornheiser and Patrick & Dibble. All three are winners. Then if they want locals after 4 p.m., have at it.”

        Broo's departure was his call.

        “The show was going nowhere,” he said. “I was the producer and host. I had zero time. The hours just didn't add up.”

        He was offered a drive-time show either in the morning or afternoon. But he turned down the move because it conflicted with his duties at Channel 5.

        Hodesh's suggestion is the exact lineup ESPN Radio offers and the one ESPN 1160 (WBOB) is using since Broo's show was canceled.

        Contact John Fay at 768-8445; fax: 768-8550; e-mail:


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