KSER Manager's Corner

What's Going On at Your Community Radio Station, proud to serve the North Puget Sound


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


You don't need to put a name under that picture.

Everyone recognizes an amazing icon. It seems like the entire Northwest was hurting this week hearing the news about the death of legendary Seattle TV news anchor Kathi Goertzen. Few people can ever have that kind of impact on an entire region. She was an excellent reporter who became a trusted and enduring TV anchor. Being that successful for that long in the broadcast business is tough. But she made it look easy.  She was that good.

She was respected by colleagues and competitors.  She was loved by her family. She was admired by people she worked with every day and by people she never met. She worked hard at her job and worked just as hard for numerous charities. An inspiring person.

Most of us were also incredibly inspired by the way she handled the health challenges that impacted the final years of her wonderful life and remarkable career.  At 54, she died way too young.

When I first heard the sad news I also couldn't help but think of Aloha Friday.  That may seem odd, and I hope it doesn't seem disrespectful, so let me explain. KSER's popular Friday at noon Hawaiian music hour "Aloha Friday" is hosted by Donn Erisman.

And Donn, for the past few years, was following the news about Kathi Goertzen probably a lot more closely than many people. Donn is courageously dealing with a medical condition almost identical to the condition that impacted Kathi...non-cancerous epidermoid.  Donn's tumor is located in a different part of the brain than the tumors that Kathi dealt with.  But like her, Donn has had to undergo some pretty daunting surgical procedures three far.

Donn decked out for Aloha Friday

Donn grew up in Juneau, Alaska. He went to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and actually got his first job in radio when he was 13.  His broadcast career blossomed and he also became a very successful TV news director.  Donn says he always had health challenges, even from a young age, but no one could figure out why.

Then, in 2003 they figured it out. Brain tumor.

He had what they called a very slow growing, benign tumor on his brain.  Doctors told him it was probably there from birth. By the time of it's discovery it had grown to the size of an orange. So, in 2003 he underwent his first round of serious brain surgery and intense follow-up treatment. Then a second, and then a third round of surgery.

Doctors have not been able to remove all traces of the tumor even after three surgeries.  But the tumor and the surgeries and the difficulties it creates have not been able to keep Donn down.

He says the tumor affected a lot of things in his life, including his relationships and career. He suffers from short-term memory challenges and he's no longer able to drive because of the threat of seizures. The tumor and multiple surgeries have also slightly affected his speech pattern but he still sounds great on the radio. And he continues to do what he loves and has a positive attitude that might embarrass some very healthy people. 

Morgan; Kyle & Brandon with their dad, Donn

Donn has recording studio equipment in his home where he puts together some of the music segments for his weekly show.  And at least twice a week he makes the trip from Marysville to the KSER studios in Everett to do show prep and then to do his live 3-hour show every Friday from 12 noon to 3 p.m. which always includes the Aloha Friday hour at noon.

And here's a little-known fact about Donn that may surprise you. Even though he launched Aloha Friday and selects all the music and talks about the artists, he's never been to Hawaii.  He's hoping to make it some day.

And like all of the DJ's you hear around the clock, 7 days a week on KSER, Donn is a volunteer. He puts in 16 to 20 hours in a normal week putting together his show, helping with the KSER website and often filling in for other DJ's.

Kathi Goertzen waged a courageous battle and was very open about her tumors. She talked about how she didn't want to hide from her illness. She worked and lived life to the fullest as long as possible. And even set up a foundation to raise funds for brain tumor research.

Donn Erisman is fighting the same battle and not hiding from his challenges.  To me, they're both incredible inspirations. We're all hoping for many more years of Aloha Fridays.

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