WLIW’s number one fan and my dear friend, Vincent McArdle, passed on Valentine’s Day at about 5 p.m.
He was a longtime supporter of WLIW. After a devastating car accident, he was paralyzed and in a wheel chair at age 44. He started calling me weekly soon after that. I had just started at WLIW in the “public information department.” He would call under the pretense of asking what was going to be on Mystery! the following week. From there we would talk about the rest of the schedule and what shows he liked to watch. Eventually our conversations turned to more varied topics.
Vincent demonstrated to me the true value of public television. This once vibrant man, now home-bound, had as his only window to the world, WLIW, public television. It kept his interest piqued and his heart beating. He actually inspired me to institute the senior and disability discount back then because he so wanted to send support but was limited in what he could donate. He was a huge music fan and British programming fan, and WLIW was a place for him to find both easily and consistently.
For a few of his rare trips out, I was able to get him backstage to meet Andre Rieu and another time, Ronan Tynan of The Irish Tenors. Ronan became a personal friend of his as well. Vincent was also able to make it to my wedding — this meant so much because I know how difficult it was for him to get around.
Vincent became one of my inner circle. Our regular phone conversations about life inside and outside of public television kept us close. He always watched out for me — another hobby of his was to listen to the police and fire radios. He would call me when I lived on West 70th Street. “Laura, where are you?! There is a fire on West 69th, be careful.” “Good, you are still in the office. There is some trouble up on the West Side. Stay there until I call I give you the all clear.” The most impressive thing about Vincent is that he never, ever complained about the difficult life of pain and inconvenience that he led. He only shared stories and opinions and laughs and made sure his friends were all okay.
Vincent McArdle was the bravest man I ever met. When I told him that, he demurred. He was brave AND humble. The world has lost one of its kindest souls and one of public television’s biggest fans. I am so honored that WLIW and I could give him some moments of joy.
WLIW Host/Untamed Hair Productions