J. Timothy Donovan, MD

“Health Horizons”, WFDU radio, circa 1974

 
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“Health Horizons.  A series of informal discussions on health.” 

By Dr. J. Timothy Donovan

Recorded at Fairleigh Dickenson University, Teaneck Campus, NJ, and aired on WFDU radio serving the campus and Tri-state metropolitan area, circa 1974 or ’75.   Dad’s own initiative and radio show.  

This series by no means shows the breadth of my dad’s interests, personality, character, or scope of scholarship, nor any culmination of his accomplishments, rather it’s a small snippet of one venture, perhaps an informative capsule of the time.

Although dubbed as informal talks, he has his professional hat on in the specific, and for him limiting world of medicine.  His nature would have preferred less constraints to achieve more depth.  He was just cutting his teeth in this medium and I can’t help but feel if he continued he would have been an excellent facilitator of reason and knowledge for our world.   Indeed, 15 years later, he would return to FDU to greatly enjoy teaching World History for the final decade of his life, his lifelong passion.

Being on a student campus, I believe he tended to play to their concerns of sexuality, emerging gender role change, loneliness, and supporting the counseling available, etc.   What to do with the earths population challenge was always a deep concern, and the relation of human sexuality throughout time a deep curiosity.

After his death, there were several reels of tape found in a box in a closet.  He had never talked about them, and I had never heard them before now.  For me, and a number of us, it’s just good to hear his voice. 

There weren’t specific dates written on the tapes, hence “circa 1974”.  These 16 episodes found, a one time series, are listed in chronological order of appearance.  Definitely a few episodes, tapes are missing as they were numbered.  

A great thank you to an old family friend, Dr. VanPosnak, who transfered the tapes to digital format, so I could edit the volume levels, etc.   The condition of the tapes audio is poor, and some areas sound quality couldn’t be rectified.

I apologize that I’m unable to yet verify the correct spelling of some of his guests.

There was no recording magic in dad’s day.   No rehearsal, no second takes, no cough buttons, no on air editing, no coaching.   No researchers helping him, or assistants.  

With lack of experience in the medium, there are times he seems rushed and cutting off his guests to get to other topics he wished to cover.... I believe this was largely due to his feeling the pressure to get all things in in 24 or less very short minutes.  Often you feel he’s just getting started, realizes the time, and doesn’t get to wrap up his topics.  

Some topics and concepts that were very much on the edge at the time, and were not found anywhere on main stream tv/radio, may seem so elemental today, taken for granted, assumed.  The Viet Nam War, a great concern of his, was just wrapping up, and a great relief not to need to talk about (he never references it here.)  Being so direct about our sexuality was way out there.  Dr. Ruth’s famous call in radio show on the subject was to arrive and soar a few years down the road.  His long time concern over human sexuality in cultures and time, and vital issues such as population continued in scholarly pursuit and discussion.  Naturally, medicine has greatly advanced since 1974, but there are some concerns he brings up (loneliness, relationships, our sexuality) which are perennial, and remain as fresh today as ever.

These shows were never intended for re-broadcast. He had no an opportunity to listen to or review the tapes (had no machine at home that could play these reels), which would have been self instructive.  

Some 15 years later, Dad would release the medical world, and return to FDU to teach for a decade another passion, World History, before a disease he spent a life treating took him.