Radio personality Dick Ireland was a fixture on Baltimore airwaves for more than 50 years, beginning when he was a lanky teenager. For 35 of those years, he was the morning drive-time personality for either WLIF-FM or WRBS-FM. On May 11, 2006, his radio career abruptly ended following a stroke.
A Mayo Clinic website reports that a ‘stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced,’ thus depriving brain tissue of nutrients and oxygen. In the U.S., it’s the leading cause of adult disability.
‘I talk a little bit differently than I used to,’ said 67-year-old Ireland in a telephone interview, referring to having stroke-induced aphasia, which means he isn’t able to read, write or speak well. His wife assisted with the interview.
‘(On May 11, 2006) I got up at three in the morning as usual to do the morning radio program,’ he said. ‘I showered and was pressing my pants when I just fell down. My wife knew I had a problem. She called the ambulance.’
Then in January 2007, in what he later learned was a bi-product of the stroke, Ireland began feeling out of sorts at a local mall. A friend drove him home. Suspecting something greater, Ireland’s wife drove him to the hospital. Ireland had a ‘full-blown’ seizure literally while they were pulling up to the emergency room.
Currently, Ireland isn’t allowed to drive, though he hopes to regain the ability and privilege.
One feeling he fights is boredom. He isn’t able to write anything, or read the morning paper, a former love. When his wife is away on errands, at home he can’t do much more than watch television, he said.
As for meeting people, ‘with some people I talk to I’m fine,’ he said. ‘I know who everybody is, but I just can’t get their names out.’
Though lacking some verbal ability, he can still greet people and make them feel good inside, important work he did on the radio. Desiring to serve others in some way after his stroke, Ireland received permission from his church to help meet the needs of older members. In that position, Ireland and his wife work hand-in-hand.
As for getting through life, he said, ‘I don’t know what I would do without my wife (Jeannette).’