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Fighting back one ‘huff and puff’ at a time

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It is back to business for Dick Maloney. On April 15, the veteran entertainer and disc jockey returned to the airwaves with his Sentimental Journey radio show on CIWW Oldies 1310 (now to be known as The Dick Maloney Show.)

It is not quite business as usual for the Ottawa native who has been singing and playing the piano in numerous venues in the Ottawa area for the last 40 years, as well as being a familiar voice as both DJ and radio performer.

For the next several months, his recording studio will be his hospital room at St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he has been a patient since suffering a spinal cord injury last summer.

“I was walking down the street and tripped on a lip of cement,” says Mr. Maloney in describing the freak accident that left him a quadriplegic. “I broke my neck when I fell. I couldn’t walk and couldn’t talk. Some kind Samaritan called me an ambulance and got me to the hospital. Along the way, my heart stopped twice. I came very close to it.”

That was on July 7, 2006. He regained his voice within two weeks. Now in the midst of a lengthy Rehabilitation process, he hopes to be able to leave the hospital in the fall in time to sing at a benefit concert to allay some of the heavy medical and special equipment expenses associated with his recovery. Even if he is not ready for full discharge by the concert date, scheduled for Nov. 2 at Centrepointe Theatre, he will be on stage for the benefit, he says.

“I can use a wheelchair,” he says, pointing to the air tube through which he powers the chair. “Even if I can’t wheel it, I can huff and puff it around. And I’m going to be singing again.

“I’m going to get back into my business again,” he adds. “It always was singing. And the idea is to get back to full-time recording. I will be writing new material for my next CD.”

He already has four CDs on the market and intends to have the fifth (currently in the “embryonic stage”) ready for the November event or “at least in good time for Christmas. That’s when the buying public buys.”

His radio show, he says, will feature “all the good guys” (such singers as Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra) and some of Mr. Maloney’s original material.

He prepares the playlist and records the song introductions and commentaries for his Sunday shows on the equipment that the radio station has hooked up in his hospital room. The shows are then mixed and edited at the radio station.

“I’m amazed and delighted to be able to do this,” says Mr. Maloney with a smile, adding that he is grateful for the help he has received from Bob Derro of 1310 and such friends as Ray Stone. “I love radio. It was my first introduction to show business. It’s great to be back.”

He says little about the strength of spirit that has given him the will to continue with his profession.

“I love doing what I do. That love is helping me to have the guts to keep going,” says Mr. Maloney.

“I had a decision to make. I could either become morose and melancholy and spend the rest of my life thinking, ‘Why me, Lord?’ or be constructive and do something with whatever talent I had left. I opted to forge ahead. The other way was just wasted time and I don’t have enough time left to waste it.”

Therefore, he chose to emphasize the positive. “I have a lot of good things left. I still have my voice, my talent and my music. I want to use that to move ahead.”

He does not dwell on not being able to use his hands and play the piano “yet.”

“I use a piano player anyway, when I do concerts,” he says.

He prefers to talk about the constant support of his wife, Carrie Cole, “who makes life tolerable,” and the kindness of friends. “I also have a lot of support from a lot of fans who have been kind and generous telling me to come on back and start singing and doing my radio show. All that makes it pretty easy for me to get back.”

The Dick Maloney Show airs on Oldies 1310 at 6 a.m. on Sundays. The benefit concert takes place at Centrepointe Theatre, Nepean, on Nov. 2.

By Ottawa Business Journal Staff

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