posted Jan 31 2014 7:24PM
In October of 2007, I was hired as a part-time air personality on WAYZ. My first day of work was training. I was to join the jock on air and observe. The jock was Tori Anderson, and it was the first time I had ever met her. I was immediately struck by how welcoming and friendly she was. Whenever I talk with anyone about Tori, the word “nice” inevitably comes up. But in this case it is completely accurate. She’s one of the nicest people I have ever known. That first day she answered my every question, regardless of how inane, with patience and a smile. I went home that day knowing I had just met one of those people who changes your life for the better just by being a part of it.
For the better part of three years I was lucky enough to be part of a WAYZ lineup with Tori, Tiny, Katy, and AJ. Oftentimes when you’re in the middle of an extraordinary time in your life you don’t know it until after. But I knew this was special. I was lucky enough to be a part of this exemplary group of people, all of whom I number among my closest friends. All the while Tori led the way. She was our den mother, the person who never had anything negative to say, who always found the positive in everything, and who taught us all by example how to handle any situation with grace and that love is the right answer to just about any question.
We had known for a while that Tori’s departure was coming. Her scleroderma was making it more and more difficult to work and to commute. We all supported Tori’s decision; we love her, and as incredibly difficult as it is to watch someone you love suffering, it is of course even worse for them. And so we all did our best to be positive and focus on the fact that she would be more comfortable and in less pain. We did our best to ignore our own feelings of impending loss. Even so, on the day of her last broadcast, we all gathered around her as she read her statement to you, the listeners, we were all, to a person, choked up. It was a very emotional moment.
And just like that she was gone. She did come out for our company holiday party in January, and we all extended open invitations to drop by and sit in with us on air anytime. And hopefully that will happen. She may be gone from our airwaves, but she is and will always be a treasured member of our family. Like I said before, she is one of those people who changes your life for the better just by being a part of it. And I’ve spoken to countless members of our audience who have related to me their Tori stories. And every last one of them told me what a wonderful person she was, how she always had time to talk, and had a kind and encouraging word for everyone. This was no act; it was and is 100% genuine. In this cynical day and age it’s easy to assume that everyone is bitter and angry. But Tori is not. Many people in her position would be, and it would be hard to blame them. But not Tori. She coined the motto “Scleroderma Sucks,” and it does, but she has not allowed it to define her. She has handled her condition with grace and dignity and she serves as an inspiration to everyone whose lives she’s touched, either in person or on the radio.
I can safely speak for Tiny, Katy, and AJ when I tell you it’s been an honor to work with Tori, and even more of an honor to know her. We were lucky enough to be all together for three years, and I’ll look back fondly on those three years for the rest of my life.