Shotgun Tom Kelly ... Back In The Saddle Again!
April 10, 2014 at 11:50 AM (PT)
Iconic radio personality SHOTGUN TOM KELLY once put on his cans at 3p this afternoon on CBS RADIO Classic Hits KRTH (K-EARTH 110)/LOS ANGELES. One month ago (NET NEWS, 3/10), KELLY had an emergency quadruple bypass surgery in SAN DIEGO; after a leave of absence to recuperate, doctors have cleared him to return to the air … which he will be do – full-time – today.
ALL ACCESS had a chance to talk to KELLY about his month-long medical adventure and how it has changed him.
When did you first realize that something was amiss?
It was probably about six months ago. I was walking to work, to K-EARTH 101, when I felt a little pressure in my chest. When I stopped walking, the pressure went away, but when I walked more, it came back. I didn’t think anything of it even though the pressure would come and go.
I happened to take one of my normal checkups with my cardiologist. My EKG and blood pressure were fine, but when he asked if there was anything I had to tell him, I told him about the pressure I felt when I walk to work. He immediately did more tests, which found that I had blocked arteries. My right coronary artery was 95% blocked, but my lateral coronary artery was 100% blocked, so they hurried me into a SAN DIEGO hospital and the next day, I thought I was having a triple bypass, but in fact I had a quadruple bypass.
They don’t mess around. When you’ve got blocked arteries, you’re like a walking dead man.
What went through your mind when you opened your eyes after the surgery?
When I opened my eyes the first time after the surgery, I saw my loving family. They were a wonderful sight to see. I then saw the doctors, who said the operation went great; it was a quadruple bypass and all I would need is rest. I took a leave of absence and rested for about a month.
What goes through your mind when you go through such a life-altering event?
What went through my mind was that here I had my second chance. If I had a heart attack – which fortunately I didn’t have – I would’ve died. I had a second chance to start eating right, exercising more and just paying more attention to what’s going on in my body.
Are you cutting back at all to ease into work?
I’m not cutting back. I’m going to work the same 3-7p afternoon-drive shift I’ve done for the last 16 years. By the way, I got a star on HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD WALK OF FAME around the same time last year, so this quadruple bypass was not a publicity stunt.
So you never considered cutting back or just retiring?
Not at all. I feel great. In fact, I feel better than I did before, so I didn’t have a thought in about retiring. My comfort level is what I do on KRTH every weekday. I’m up, I’m happy and hopefully I make my listeners feel good after a hard day at work and during the drive home in horrendous traffic.
Do you feel like “a changed man” after this episode?
It really does change me. Now I’m a member of “The Zipper Club.”
You know, they actually didn’t use stitches; they glued me together -- it’s superglue, man! I had the same operation that DAVID LETTERMAN had, as well as REGIS PHILBIN and PRES. CLINTON. They take a vein from your leg and put it in your heart; it’s been a very successful procedure; it can add quite a few years on your life … medical science can be so wonderful
So are all systems go for today?
You better believe it, baby!
You can hear KELLY’s return to the air at 3p PT here.