Almost three weeks ago, legendary Channel 7 anchor Irv Weinstein revealed in an interview with the Buffalo News that he was recently diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
It is one thing to read about Weinstein’s battle, another to see how he is doing.
That makes the interview Keith Radford did with Weinstein two weeks ago must-see TV for the broadcasting legend’s fans. The interview aired on Ch. 7 Friday night and has been posted on the WKBW website and on YouTube.
Watch the interview here, via Ch. 7's YouTube channel:
Radford said the newspaper article and the response to it led to the station deciding to do the interview with Weinstein at the assisted living home where he lives with his wife Elaine in Mission Viejo, Calif.
In a telephone interview, Radford described Weinstein’s situation.
“All things considered, he was good,” said Radford. “He has ALS. He is paralyzed from the waist down so he is in a wheelchair and can’t walk. He has a full-time caregiver at this beautiful place in Mission Viejo, a Jewish-run home that is really nice in the hills there. His mind if as sharp as ever and his humor is the same as it always was. He has great difficulty in speaking and breathing a little bit.”
Radford said the story is about four minutes long.
“Almost all of it is him talking,” said Radford. “I want to hear from him. I want to see him. I don’t want to cover him all up with old video or anything like that. In the beginning, it is a little bit of him when he was here and then I do a stand-up from California and then we see Irv.”
He said they discussed how Weinstein feels, what he does in a normal day, what his life is like now, and his knowledge of ALS before and after he was diagnosed.
And, of course, there are memories about Channel 7 and “how he had great times here,” said Radford.
“I can’t believe he’s been gone for 16-17 years,” said Radford. “He talked about how wonderful his family has been. He just doesn’t like it that he has to be dependent now totally on other people.”
Radford said he spent four hours with Weinstein, who made the interview easier to do than he expected it would be.
“It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be because he is just so funny,” said Radford. “I’ve known Irv for the whole 30 years I’ve been here, worked with him for half those. It made me think of how much fun we had when he was here. And he is still funny. He wasn’t morose or sad. He said, ‘look I want to focus on the positive here, not the negatives.’ He wanted to talk about other stuff and not dwell on his illness.”
“I am just really glad that I went because I hadn’t seen him for two or three years when Irv, Rick (Azar) and Tom (Jolls) came back for the Variety Club Telethon,” said Radford.
“Irv is still Irv, except he is sitting in a chair now and he has a little difficulty speaking. But his face looks exactly the same. He looks wonderful. His hair is not silver or white. He is 86 years old and he is funny. It just takes him longer to talk about something than it used to.”