A Day and Phone Call I Won’t Forget
Friday, July 3rd. This is a day and the phone call I am never going to forget. I'm betting it's the same for station listener and Days of Summer winner, Arlen Parma.
As the July 3rd afternoon was inching it's way to 4pm and with our doors closed this year for Independence Day, my last duty of the day was to call winners to let them know we'd be back Monday and excited to hand them prizes then.
As I called down the winner's list, leaving messages to one winner and talking to another, I had dialed down the list to KIXS 108 winner, Arlen Parma.
The phone rang and I heard someone pick up. Immediately as I was introducing myself I could hear labored breathing. I stopped mid introduction. " Is this Arlen Parma?" I asked." It's 'Ingra Lee from KIXS 108', I reiterated .
"Yes." Arlen replied. "I, am, having, a, heart, attack."
Time froze, absolutely still. I jumped out of my skin and out of my chair to get some help. With Arlen's labored breathing I knew not to ask too many questions. Did he have help on the way? " Yes, Arlen replied. " Do you want me to stay on the phone with you? "Yes," he replied again.
In the next minute I had our Director of Content, Wes Adams with me on speaker as I constantly reiterated to Arlen that I was there for him and listening.
Minutes later, maybe it was seconds, who knows, I could hear help arriving. Arlen handed the phone to the friend he had called in his emergency. I quickly said who I was and where I worked. "We can't talk right now ma'am, this man is having a heart attack! Arlen's friend exclaimed as he hung up. Wes and I just stood for a second stunned at the intensity of all of it.
Wes and I left later for the day still talking about it, shaking our heads.
In all of Wes's years in radio he had never heard of a DJ talking someone through a heart attack. I've only been in radio a little over three months so I have nothing to refer too. Other than to tell you situations like this are not uncommon for me. Other stories for another time.
The next day of the 4th, even with festivities and fireworks with family I thought of Arlen and the phone call often. I lamented whether I should call the local hospitals to see how he was doing or if it was even appropriate to do so. He might not even remember we had a conversation on the phone at all. On the morning of the 5th my phone rang and to my great surprise, it was Arlen himself on the line. He had indeed had a heart attack but was recuperating. Yes he remembered the call and even thanked me. Of course I teared up the second we hung up.
Yesterday I had the great pleasure to announce that Arlen Parma was celebrating his 60th birthday on air during our morning birthday shout-outs.
As happy as it made me to announce his birthday on air, I'm even happier to announce I will get a chance to meet Arlen and his wife Cindy for the first time, face to face, on July 30th during our Mack Haik Center live performance with Stephanie Ross and the Southern Drive.
We will be in masks and social distancing but now we get to remember the phone call and share live music memories together too. Thank you Arlen for sending me photos and allowing me to share the story.
* Above is a photo of Arlen and Bella. Bella belongs to his daughter in college but now that he has been puppy sitting Bella he isn't sure he'll ever give her back. LOL She goes with Arlen everywhere on his ranch.