Thanks, Mr. Keeen

[td_block_title custom_title=”THANK YOU, MR. KEEN” block_template_id=”td_block_template_6″ header_text_color=”#dd3333″]


Eddie checking out a story

If you’re over the age of (you-fill-in-the-blank), lived in Edmonton in the 1970’s, had your transistor radio tuned — or, perhaps, locked on 630 CHED, you probably remember these two words.

“I’m Eddie Keen.”

I remember the first time I heard those words. It was 1972, just after 8 a.m., when I was waiting for the school bus to take me another day of fun and games — and some core educational values, of course — in Mr. Flesher’s Grade 7 class.

I recall his debut, that morning, and what caught me more than anything, honestly, was he said “Damn” on the radio.

How daring was that?

Eddie was introduced as a former Edmonton Journal reporter who was hired by CHED to write and voice editorials. Two a day — remember? Eddie’s morning editorial ran and 7 and 8 a.m., and the afternoon edition aired at 12:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Eddie turned me on to writing, and the news business — but, most importantly, trying to help people. Eddie was a voice for people who he thought were not being treated fairly.

Landlords. Car dealerships who turned back speedometres. People he thought needed a voice — not necessarly a strong or sturdy voice. Just a voice.

So, as a pimpled-face teenager who really didn’t have a grasp of reality, I made a vow: I wanted to be just like Eddie Keen.

Oh, sure: there were just a few obstacles. I have cerebral palsy, use a wheelchair to get around, and a voice that can be hard to understand. Reading editorials on the radio?

Not even in my wildest dreams.

But … maybe, I could write and produce radio commentaries. So, off to NAIT I went to take Radio and

Television Arts, which made very interesting conversations at during lunch when new friends asked what technology I was in.

To make a long story make fit in the allotted space I have here, I couldn’t find work in broadcasting. A door opened in newspaper, and next month, I’ll hoist one — and, of course, with a straw — to 39 years writing columns.

And, I believe my best work, perhaps, is ahead of me.

I started my career writing about people with disabilities: their stories, their issues and their concerns. Over the next years, for whatever reason, I moved away from that mantra.

It’s time to return to my roots. Because, I think, people with disabilities have stories to tell, issues to dispute, and a fundamental right to participate, and to reach their full potential.

Whatever that might be.

So: I’m inviting you, if you have a disability or know of someone with a disability who has a story to share, I want to know it.

For whatever reason — and, I don’t know why — people with disabilities have become mysteriously silent.  But, the stories and issues haven’t.

I invite you to share your concerns with me. Email is the best way of communication and mine

Please. Use it.

I will never, ever be just like Eddie Keen. That would be, frankly, an insult.

But I’ll try to carry on his epic storytelling … damn right.