Baumhower: Sunday mornings get grayerWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In a world of corporate radio, syndication and voice tracking, Suzanne Carroll is a beacon of light. Her irreplaceable energy has been filling Toledo’s homes for the past 17 years on Sunday mornings with her “Jazz Brunch” heard on 101.5 The River. On Sept. 9, Carroll shocked and saddened her audience when she announced she was taking a five-month leave of absence for health reasons.
Carroll is the not your normal everyday radio personality type and her “Jazz Brunch” is not your typical show, but don’t tell her legions of loyal listeners — they already know. Her soft voice and genuineness has made her a Sunday morning staple for many in Northwest Ohio.
Want to know the key to and greatest part of Carroll’s longevity? She pays for her time on the air. Not only is Clear Channel getting a top-notch, authentic jazz show, it is making money on top of it. Her 17-year arrangement allows her to sell her own advertising and this is where her true talents shine. Carroll is one of the very best at promoting, supporting and endorsing those businesses that have stood by and financially supported her show all these years, with sponsors that include Yark BMW, Jamiesons Audio/Video and The Optical Shop. Carroll proudly boasts that “‘The Jazz Brunch’ is The River’s No. 1 client.”
The “Jazz Brunch’s” last day before the five-month hiatus will also be the show’s 18th anniversary. This was not by accident, as Carroll is a big believer in meaningful dates and karma. In fact, an even bigger anniversary occurs the very same day she has planned her return. March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, will mark 19 years since Carroll was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and that is the very day she plans to relaunch her “Jazz Brunch.”
“Starting ‘The Jazz Brunch’ just months after my diagnosis with MS has been an amazing thing. Interacting with the music and our community over these bumpy health years has lifted me up and carried me through some very difficult times. I am sure these years would not have been the pleasure they have been without ‘The Jazz Brunch.’ I am looking for that to continue in the Spring,” stated Carroll via Facebook.
Carroll and I had worked together for a couple of years before she brought David Lander, aka Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley,” into 1370 WSPD’s studio in the early 2000s to promote an upcoming MS event on the “Mark Standriff Morning News Show.” I had no idea that she was battling MS, or any disease; it floored me. When people dream of Sunday mornings, they often think of sunny, blue skies and warmth. This is the way Carroll had always been in the hallways of Clear Channel. I had no idea of the struggles and battles she was privately fighting, nor could I.
During a recent phone conversation, Carroll promised me that the “Jazz Brunch” will return. I made her promise. I never asked, nor wanted to know, what health scare could possibly keep this woman from her show, especially for five months. So if you are one of those who pray, I please ask you to think of her.
In a business filled with narcissists, egomaniacs and the mentally ill, Carroll’s absence on air and behind the scenes will be felt. Her upcoming five months of silence will be deafening.
On a personal note, Carroll was the person who made it “OK” in my mother’s eyes for me to work in radio. The very fact I knew and worked with her made my very low-paying job all right. For the past 17 years, Carroll’s voice has been the backdrop of my Sunday morning visits with my parents — my mother rarely misses a show.
Until St. Patrick’s Day, get well soon and hurry back.