I was deeply saddened to learn that Richard Gladwell, host of With Heart & Voice, had brain surgery recently and that his illness will prevent him from returning to the program. He is reported to be at home and in good spirits.
Richard has always had a warm regard for West Virginia and has visited here twice to participate in West Virginia Public Radio's fund drives. I know that he will appreciate hearing from our listeners. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send regular mail to Richard at WXXI, P. O. Box 30021, Rochester, NY 14603.
For all of us who are early risers on Sunday mornings, Richard has become like a member of the family, and we'll miss that friendly voice and his personal selection of religious music that has offered spiritual benefits and brightened our day.
My appreciation for With Heart & Voice deepened when I met the man behind it. I was at the control board when he entered the air studio to do his first fund drive broadcast for West Virginia Public Radio. He saw my gray hair and said, "And, how old are you?" I told him, and he replied, "Well, I'm just a bit older."
We then began to share stories, to talk about our love for good music, and interest in radio. I learned that Richard had some 10,000 albums in his collection, so extensive that he had devoted the second story of his house to them.
He also told me a little about his life: born 1920 and educated in England, at the age of 6 was accepted as a chorister in an East London church, and sang in various church choirs before his WW II military service. He later received some of his musical education through Birmingham University.
I also heard how Richard had come to the United States in 1955 and had worked in management positions for both Xerox Corporation and the Eastman Kodak Company. And, that his interest in radio and sacred music had led him in 1975 to begin working part time at the classical music station WXXI in Rochester, NY, and to the development of With Heart & Voice.
"There was a hunger for sacred choral music at the time, and I satisfied that hunger with an hour of choral and organ music broadcast every Sunday morning," he said. He has been gratified to see that the response to this effort was so great that With Heart & Voice was nationally syndicated in 1982.
Just recently I have learned that this past March, during a special concert in Rochester in his honor, Richard was awarded the prestigious Benemerenti Medal, bestowed by the Vatican in recognition of his long-time and exeptional community service.
Please join me in keeping Richard Gladwell in our thoughts and prayers.
Frank Stowers 9/2/09
Editor's note: Here is message from Richard's wife, Claire.