Missing The Great Tuna





In my youth, and possibly even before that, I used to stutter, stammer, and slur my words. If I was lucky, occasionally someone would understand what I wanted to say.

It took decades of speech therapy and speech pathologists had a field day with me. I don’t know if it is true – but I seemed to be the subject of at least one research paper.

If you ever saw the movie, THE KING’S SPEECH, well that was me, without the royalty of course.

This posting, is not dedicated to me, nor my verbal inflections (or lack, thereof), but someone who was my teacher, and he didn’t even know it.

One exercise, which I kept quiet about because of shame in my incoherent speech, was to listen to radio announcers. I followed sports announcers, morning radio shows, and music DJs. They knew how to speak, how to pronounce the words, and more importantly, how to create visual images by their words.

For the most part, I failed to emulate them. But I didn’t give up, nor do I give up now.

One of the best announcers I followed was Charlie Tuna. Not only did he make himself well understood, but he could also tell silly jokes (and get away with it!)and he made the callers to the radio station feel welcomed.

He was the voice of LA for many years, yet he never got arrogant, nor did he insult anyone (politicians, take note). He was humble and charming and endearing to so many people.

I missed him when he changed radio stations (all radio people do this). It took some time before I found him again (remember this was pre-Internet). And when I did find him, it was as if nothing had changed. His words were still crisp, clear, and kind.

Even important was that he had an email address and he actually took the time out of his busy schedule to email some of his listeners.

How do I know this? Because he actually took time to email me. An email from a well-know, well enunciated radio host willing to communicate with a person who stammers and stutters and occasionally make an audible word by accident.

Below is the brief correspondence we had. I should mention that I am left-handed.


Re: Left handers
Thursday, June 18, 2009 1:19 PM
“Charlie Tuna” <charlie@charlietuna.com>
Add sender to Contacts
“Rob Escalante” <barefoot_rob1@yahoo.com>

Hi Rob,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but I’ve been swamped with a ton of projects and a lot of email which I’m just catching up on.

Here’s the info you were looking for. The National Examiner reports that if you’re planning a party, put plenty of right handers on the list. Scientists reports that right handers are more adventurous and more playful across the board and across species. In contrast, left handers are more timid and stodgy. This tendency comes from the way mammals brains are hardwired, say experts. The right side of the brain which handles fear, controls the left side of the body. The brain’s right side also favors logic and calculation. The left side of the brain which stifles fear controls the right side of the body. The brain’s left side prefers creativity and instinct.

Personally I’d take this with a grain of salt:) Thanks for your patience and for being out there for me, I really appreciate it.

Oh, and yes, I’m right handed.


Charlie Tuna
Website: http://charlietuna.com

I missed what you just said about lefthanders a few minutes ago.

I am a long term lefty.

RIP Charlie Tuna

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