Mark Belling, the afternoon drive-time talk show host on WISN-AM in Milwaukee, returned to the airwaves Monday after abruptly leaving mid-program on February 11, to explain his absence.
“I was having a stroke,” Belling told his listeners. “I didn’t know I was having a stroke, but I was having a stroke.”
Belling realized he was wasn’t feeling well during the break and asked his producer Paul Kronforst to continue playing commercials as his theme music ended. He said he had a headache and that he heard a “crunching” noise in his head. After a few minutes, Belling realized he couldn’t continue the show. He went to his office while the radio station played a “Best of Belling” show until Program Director Jerry Bott could return to the station to finish the show.
At his office, Belling called his doctor and spoke to a nurse before driving himself to the hospital emergency room in West Allis, despite a difficulty seeing correctly. It was at the hospital that he was diagnosed with a stroke. They released him last Wednesday evening.
Belling said that the stroke has caused him to have some vision issues.
“There is a loss of vision peripherally on my right side,” Belling said. Belling is also having difficulty reading documents because his eyes have difficulty working together.
“Because I am reading crappy, I can’t read anything aloud,” Belling said. “And as you know, that is a huge part of what I’m doing.”
The after-effects of the stroke will cause Belling to miss some air time while he sees doctors about his condition and goes through rehab for his vision issues.
“I will be spending some time off the program,” Belling said. “I don’t know when I am going to be back on the air full time. I know I don’t want to come back and make a fool of myself when I’m not ready to come back.”
Belling said that fatigue is an issue that he was warned about, and that is also contributing to his absence.
“I might come in here and there like I am doing now, or not,” Belling said. “I’m not exactly sure of that. I am, for as stupid as I am, smart enough to know that I’ve got to do this right or I’m not going to be able to come back and be any good at this thing at all.”
The conservative talk show host was not asking his listeners for sympathy. “I just look at the situation that happened to me,” Belling said. “If I could check off of the symptoms you can have from the after effects from having a stroke, and we all know what they all are: some people can’t stand up, they lose their memory, they lose their sight, they slur their speech, they have to walk with canes, they’re frail on one side, they suffer paralysis, die. All of those things. If I had to check off, okay, we gotta retrain you how to drive and you lost a little bit of vision, and that’s it, I’ll take that deal.”
Belling was also just grateful that the stroke did not occur on the scheduled flight on Thursday from Los Angeles to Auckland, NZ, for his annual Mark Belling Cruise with a number of listeners.
This is not the first time Belling suffered from a neurological health issue. He explained to his audience that a number of years ago he had a possible transient ischemic attack (TIA) that caused his doctor to put him on blood thinners.
Belling appeared on the air Monday for just the first hour of the program to explain his absence and why he was not on his annual cruise. The remainder of the show was covered by fill-in host Brian Schimming.
You can listen to Belling describe what happened on the WISN podcast of his show: