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Bob Taylor
WAWZ New York

The Sounds Of Silence




It's the one thing radio people rely on the most and at the same time take for granted until it’s gone, our voice. It's our way of spreading His word and also our livelihood. Imagine not having use of your voice?

What began as a cold turned into a non-stop post nasal drip and a lot of throat clearing, and then I began to notice my voice was not the same, it was raspy. I was thinking, wow, this must really be a bad cold. So, I took the standard cough drops and then it was off to the internet to look up home remedies, all with no improvement. In fact, my voice was getting even worse and I was getting very concerned. 

So, I visited my family doctor and after several rounds of steroids and medicines, still with no improvement, he suggested that I have a polyp. I didn't want to hear this. I said, “A polyp I don't have a polyp!” He said, “Yes, I think you have a polyp.” Then I asked, “If it is a polyp, how do I get it fixed so I can get my voice back?” He said, “You go to an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) and they look down your throat with a video scope and if there's a polyp, they will cut it out and you will get better and that's it.” That's it? Scope? Cut it out? I was not fond of the scope part or the “cut it out” part either.


God led me to a great ENT, Dr. Christopher Shaari, who has been a huge help to me and very supportive. He used a scope, made a video recording and I saw for myself that there was a polyp lodged on my right vocal cord.  Dr. Sharri suggested another round of steroids and voice rest (this meant no talking and no going on the air.)  We were hoping to avoid surgery. A follow up visit and another look with the scope determined that surgery was evident.

I met with a couple surgeons in New York City and New Jersey. They also needed to use a video scope to look at the polyp. At this point, the scope was used so many times I no longer had any fear of scopes. It is so great how God brings us to our fears, and when we trust in Him, He brings us through it, and then afterwards He makes us so much better and stronger than we were before.


The New York City and New Jersey area surgeons were not encouraging. They said after surgery I would not get 100 percent use of my voice. This was not a career ender, but a “career changer.” My heart sank. But then I realized everything was going to be fine, God was leading and there was going to be another way. A detailed discussion began during a follow up visit to Dr. Shaari with my wife Suzanne, who was by my side through the entire process. I suggested what I thought would be something impossible, but with God I knew all things are possible.  I asked Dr. Sharri if I could go see the surgeons at Harvard in Boston. I figured if they could fix the Grammy winning singer Adele and she could sing at the Grammy awards and sound great, then there was hope for me. Doctor Shaari agreed, made a call and secured the appointment.


I met with Dr. James Burns who has a great bedside manner, and is one of the most professional and humble surgeons you will ever meet. Of course, he needed to look down my throat with the video scope. After seeing the polyp, I asked Dr. Burns the one question that mattered the most, “How much of my voice will I get back after surgery?” He said with confidence and a smile, “You get the whole thing back. I haven’t missed yet.”Jokingly he adds” You may be thinking I must be overdue.”  I knew God led me to the right person. This was the best news I heard. I signed the paperwork and I felt the weight lift off my shoulders.

I returned to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for the procedure to remove my polyp. The morning of the surgery I was waiting to be brought into the operating room and I was in a very good mood. I felt through this entire process that God was leading the way, and when this whole thing was over, I was going to get my voice back. I remember lying outside the operating room and singing quietly “Holy is the Lord” by Chris Tomlin and was overheard by one of the head nurses. She started a conversation with me and was so surprised about my positive mood. I explained that I knew God was with me that day and that I would have a full recovery.


The operation took about an hour and most of that time used prepping for the procedure with all the instruments and getting my mouth open wide enough. I was put to sleep for the operation but afterwards, I got to view the actual surgery which was videoed. The process to remove the polyp only lasted about a total of seven minutes. The skillful hands of Dr. Burns would remove what looked like a tiny bump on my vocal cords. He cleaned out the polyp and there was no blood. This polyp was preventing my vocal cords from vibrating in harmony and from producing sound properly and instead was allowing air to pass as the vocal cord folds were not fully closing. The result was my raspy sounding voice. As soon as the polyp was removed the vocal cord folds seemed to instantly return to their proper position. It was amazing. A laser was also used to remove some of the blood vessels that were exposed on the opposite side of the polyp.

Then the recovery followed, three weeks of total silence. I never realized how difficult it is to communicate without speaking. I had several pads and pens to write down requests to my wife. It's a good time to do a lot of thinking, praying and listening to God to hear His voice. It was suggested by a pastor friend of mine to journal my experience. This really helped me to remember what God spoke to me during my silence. The experience of being silent, has changed my life forever and I knew I would not be the same after my voice was restored.


Besides not being able to make phone calls or go on air, I also could not sing during worship at church. This is something I did not take into account and it made me very sad, as it is one of my favorite things to do.  I could not worship our Lord. In many ways I was more sad about this, than not being able to go on the air. That day in church I made a promise to myself that anytime I would worship in the future that I would appreciate my voice and I would never forget when I could not sing.  I have not forgotten.

My follow up with Dr. Burns was positive and my vocal chords were fully healed. My voice was back to 100 percent. I still had a lot of pain in my mouth from the instruments used and it would continue for many months to follow. While this is rare, it happens in some cases.

My voice actually sounds better than before I had any issues. I am back on the air and I'm very happy with the results. I've learned through voice therapy sessions not to yell and not to shout when in loud places.  This is a lesson to be learned by anyone who uses their voice professionally. As vocalists, on-air personalities or voice over artists we all need to treat our voices with respect. Our voice is our instrument and our gift from God. Unfortunately for me, it took getting a polyp, surgery, followed by total silence for me to realize this.


There are voice warm up exercises that I now do every day.  I use them not only when I go on air, but when I speak on a daily basis. While it is so great to be able to have a conversation again and to be understood when speaking on the phone, being allowed to be able to encourage listeners on the air and to worship Him in church is my greatest joy.

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Bob Taylor is on-air at STAR 99.1 in the New York Metro and at Q93.5 in the Hudson Valley market where he also serves as Programming/Operations Specialist.   Reach out to Bob at