Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MacLeod follows his heart by moving to CBC weekend

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Some things you guess right. Some, you guess wrong.

I had a gut feeling that when Terry MacLeod returned to work after cardiac surgery it wouldn't be as the co-host of the local CBC radio morning show where he's been the one on-air constant for nearly 20 years.

As it turned out, I was right about that. But I was wrong about where he would be slotted in the program schedule.

That's the news angle.

Then there's the heart of the story.

-- -- --

It was in late June, a month after Terry had begun his purposefully gradual behind-the-scenes return to work when I chanced to meet him after Sunday breakfast at Stella's Cafe on Grant Avenue.

Naturally, like so many of his listeners, I was curious about what was happening. When would he would be back on the air? Terry said he would know more the next day.

That next day, Larry Updike, the host of CBC Radio One's afternoon show, was told his contract wasn't being renewed. You can see how one might assume that CBC management was making room for Terry's return.

That's not how it turned out, though, as Terry was informed a week and a half later, when CBC finally made his new role public on Thursday.

Come the September long weekend, Terry MacLeod will be the host of the Weekend Morning Show, which airs Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

He seemed enthused about it.

But before I could ask him how he really felt about the move, Terry began to talk about what a difference the quintuple bypass surgery had made him feel about himself and his life expectancy.

He said one of his brothers who had been through bypass surgery predicted Terry would feel reborn by the experience.

Terry put that feeling in different words. He called it transforming.

"I've been fundamentally changed by it," he said.

Both physically and mentally.

He has the kind of energy he hasn't had in years and the arm pain from angina that had begun to invade his sleep is gone.

So, I gathered, is the sense that, unlike his father who died from heart disease at 57, Terry now feels the surgery has given him a chance to live as long as anybody.

And the man he credits most is his heart surgeon, and friend, Dr. Alan Menkis. It was Menkis who arrived in Winnipeg to take up his role as medical director of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's cardiac-sciences program in the fall of 2004, just in time to treat the just-turned 61, and recently diagnosed Terry MacLeod.

"He was the guy that gave me the bad news," Terry recalled.

The bad news being major heart disease that would have to be managed with medication, and by Terry himself. He needed to change his lifestyle, and his emotional reaction to his world. As I wrote at the time, Terry had to perform open heart surgery on himself. At least until there was no other choice but the real thing.

Which brought me to another choice Terry had to make more recently, after convalescing for nearly six months. What he would do when he got back to work?

I suggested to Terry his listeners might be disappointed he won't rejoin Marcy Markusa on the weekday morning show.

Are you disappointed? I asked.

Apparently not.

When CBC Manitoba's managing director, John Bertrand, initially asked him what he thought about moving to the weekend morning show, Terry took 24 hours to think about it.

"If I had been really tenacious and fought it, I probably could have," Terry conceded.

But as Terry pointed out, Winnipeg was the last CBC radio morning show in the country to have two hosts.

"Marcy has this vast career ahead of her," he reasoned.

And as he described it:

"We have a very, very affectionate relationship."

He recalled how Marcy reacted when they spoke over the phone on the show just two weeks after his quintuple bypass surgery.

"You could almost hear the tears in her voice, when she found out I had got through the surgery and everything would be fine."

And everything will be fine.

His loyal listeners who energize him, much the way bypass surgery has, are still out there. He doesn't have to get up at 3:30 a.m. every workday, so he and his live-wire wife Ellen MacDonald can have a normal schedule -- and life. Plus Terry MacLeod is still doing what he loves, and seems to have been born to do. And now -- bless his heart surgeon -- reborn to do.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 B1

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