By Joyce Mitchell
Veteran Bay Area Reporter Mike Sugerman did it all. An experienced multi-media-journalist, he logged a total of 34 years at KPIX TV and KCBS and earned 17 Emmy Awards before retiring in 2017. Now, he has his own story to tell.
“It’s a day I’ll never forget,” said Sugerman. On February 22, 2022, he underwent surgery on his aortic valve. “Two days later, I couldn’t feel my legs,” Sugerman continued. “And I haven’t been able to feel them since.”
Today, Sugerman is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair. He and his wife are adjusting to an entirely new way of life. Much changed that dreadful day.
But what didn’t go away is Sugerman’s witty, funny personality and his ability to tell a damn good story. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Storytelling.
Sugerman is now on the radio with a podcast called I’m Still Rolling. He co-hosts with his wife Janice Wright, a former KCBS anchor/reporter. Sugerman writes that the podcast is about life in the slow lane, about what happens when life gets thrown into the cement mixer, how couples react, how some suffer and others thrive.
The Sugerman’s live in New York. They moved there a few years ago to be near their kids. These days, Wright is Sugerman’s caregiver. “While in the ICU following the surgery, he pondered starting a podcast,” said Wright. “Mike started thinking about this as soon as the pain killers wore off.”
Today, you can hear their podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts – to name a few platforms. Or listen right here – right now. https://shows.acast.com/im-still-rolling
“We’re trying to turn our tragedy into something that can help inspire others in my position,” said Sugerman. The couple weaves together their story while interviewing people in similar situations.
“I say I’ve been doing podcasts for 50-years but I just didn’t know it,” said Sugerman. “These are more radio documentaries than podcasts. I’m trying to use my editing skills to make them more interesting.”
One episode profiles a 39-year old woman named Renee Burns. She’s just made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for traveling to the most countries in one year using her wheelchair. She visited 117 countries. “By seeing the world, I’m redefining my future,” Burns said in the podcast.
Wright describes her husband as “Mr. Zen.” She said that he’s accepted his situation with great optimism. As for Sugerman, he stays busy with doctor’s appointments and physical therapy. Unfortunately, he also experiences a great deal of pain. “But I don’t think about it,” said Sugerman, “because I have this.” Of course, he’s referring to the podcasts.
Sugerman had a five percent chance of becoming paralyzed from the surgery. And, the unimaginable happened. The coping process brought the couple closer than ever and they’re embracing the future instead of harboring a grudge against the past. “We have meaning and purpose,” said Wright. “We’re never bored with each other.”
As for Sugerman, he said that the podcast is a story of disability but that he hopes it can inspire everyone. In other words, make the best of what you’ve got, of every moment. As Sugerman said, “it’s two rolls forward, one roll back.”
Sugerman learned a long time ago back in his reporting days to keep the camera rolling. Looking at the big picture, he said not much has changed because, “I’m Still Rolling.”