I'd be lying if I said I haven't enjoyed my commute to work of late. For those of you who don't tune into wing-nut talk radio, here's the reason: KTAR 92.3 FM's morning hate jock Darrell Ankarlo has been missing from his 8:30 a.m. to noon time slot since April, after he was sidelined from an auto accident that caused what was first described on his Web site as a "severe concussion." In his place, KTAR's featured far more civilized on-air talent, such as Austin Hill and Kid Stevens. Both men are conservative, but neither is as reactionary, conceited, or bilious as Ankarlo.
A week ago Ankarlo called in to his own show during a station fundraiser for SARRC, the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. Ankarlo sounded feeble and hoarse as he described his ailments for listeners.
"It's called Traumatic Brain Injury," Ankarlo informed them. "It's what the guys in Iraq get when they go over a land mine and it scrambles their brain."
The result has been that Ankarlo has had to struggle to express himself, no doubt an infuriating position for a person who makes his living spitting into a microphone nonstop.
"I know what it's like," said Ankarlo, growing more maudlin by the second, "to wanna say something, and your brain is trapped and you can't say it. And you go in your room, and there have been a few times when I've cried, and there have been several times when I've been so frustrated I wanted to break a wall because my mind says one thing and my body does something else."
Apparently, Ankarlo's undergoing therapy and treatment, but has yet to get the green light to return to work from his doctors. I don't wish ill health on anyone. (Well, almost anyone.) On the other hand, I cannot look forward to the return of such a malevolent, bigoted presence on the airwaves. From mindlessly smooching up to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and defending his racial-profiling sweeps to railing against American children born of undocumented parents to regurgitating the outrageous canard that Mexican immigrants are responsible for an increase in leprosy cases, Ankarlo has never missed a chance to bash the brown here in Sand Land.
Has AZ's Herman Munster lookalike finally had his Ebenezer Scrooge moment? Will Ankarlo's sad experience with brain trauma transform him into a different man, one less likely to stoke the fires of nativism and anti-Mexican bigotry?
"Here's what I learned," Ankarlo told his on-air foil Dianne Brennan during his recent phone call. "At first, I learned compassion. I thought I knew compassion. Now I know it to my very core."
OK. I'll take the guy at his word. But once he's recovered and has (presumably) returned to his old job, let's see if he has compassion for those whose families have been decimated and their dreams ruthlessly crushed by the likes of Arpaio, state Senator Russell Pearce, and the federal gendarmes at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It's easy to feel compassion for humanity's unfortunates when you're suffering yourself and want the pity of others. It's another thing to show it when you're as healthy as an ox, and need no tending to.