6:00am

Mon January 23, 2012
Commentary

“¡Salud!”: Marc Ringel Hangs up Commentary Shingle

All good things eventually come to an end. Such is the case with KUNC commentator Dr. Marc Ringel.

Early in my career as a commentator on things medical I learned that, in order to be engaging and interesting, I ought to leaven the science with humor and personal experience.  Juggling science and spirit, facts and narrative, objective and subjective, body and mind, serious and funny, has been my greatest challenge, and my biggest source of inspiration over the sixteen-plus years that KUNC has been airing my pieces.

I haven’t always achieved the balance I’ve striven for.  And I flagrantly broke my own rule, delivering wholly personal commentaries on six occasions:  when my father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease; when Dad died two years later; and for my 100th, 200th, 300th and 400th commentaries for KUNC, which were celebrations of this wonderful station and of my good fortune to be associated with it.

I’m breaking the pattern once more today, on the occasion of my 434th commentary, delivering a piece that is wholly personal, because this is the last one.  KUNC and I are parting ways, amicably.  It’s time for both of us to move on.

There are many things I want to say to you, the listening audience.  I’ll settle for the few words that will fit within the brief time-slot allotted me.

Let me start with a description of this recording session, which is about the same as the 433 that preceeded it.

I’m sitting in a sound-deadened, dimly lit studio, wearing headphones, 4-1/2 pages of 16-point text spread out on the desk in front of me, a microphone suspended next to my mouth by a long jointed metal arm.  Across the desk is my headphone-clad producer, watching a monitor screen.  A few moments ago I did a trial read of the first paragraph as Brian checked the relationship between my mouth and the microphone while twiddling dials and levers.

Except on the rare occasions when I’ve brought family or friend to observe, it’s been just the producer and me in the room.  I usually record a commentary during the week before it will air.

Over the years I’ve delivered my product in studios in three different offices, each facility better than the last, a sign of just how well KUNC has done.  The room I’m in as I record this piece even has a window with a nice view to the west.

I’ve had just two main producers, Jim Beers and Brian Larson, both of them extraordinary. They told me it takes about 40 minutes to edit my piece down to its 4-minute final form.  (I make anywhere from a few to dozens of flubs that require retaking a sentence or paragraph, sometimes many times, until I get it right.  The producer splices together the good bits to make me sound better than I am.)  I cannot thank Jim and Brian enough for their mentorship, support and excellent work.

I’ll say it again.  It’s just the two of us in the studio.  Never mind that 50 to 100,000 people will hear what we’ve produced, the recording experience itself is isolated and intimate.

Which brings me to another point.  I have always loved the feedback, even the nasty comments, that I get from listeners, any way I get it--by email, snail mail, or face-to-face--because it reminds me that someone out there is listening.  It’s great to know that the approximately four hours I spent writing a piece and the fifteen minutes it took to record it have led to actually reaching someone.  Thank you to everyone who has ever acknowledged that you’ve heard me.

And thank you to everybody who has listened.  That’s all I can hope for.  If I have entertained or illuminated, all the better.

In my long medical career I’ve striven, not only to do the best by my patients one at a time, but to have an effect on the larger intellectual, social, political, cultural, economic and spiritual world in which all of us do or don’t get the care we need.

Radio commentary or not, I plan to stay involved and to continue to hold up my end of the discussion about what really matters to our health.  So, please stay in touch.  You should be able to reach me for a while from the KUNC website.

As a final word, let me propose a toast.  “¡Salud!”

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