It's odd how incidents cross paths in our great big universe, incidents that, otherwise, would never meet, coming or going. Such is the case with the interview I did with Freda Sorce many years ago.
As a freelance writer focusing on folks in the entertainment industry, I've interviewed many interesting people. Most often, I've worked not on assignment but on personal taste -- if someone intrigued me, I've made contact and requested an interview. Most have graciously agreed to talk with me.
The Don and Mike radio show has been a talk show staple in the Washington, DC area for many, many years. In the not-so-distant past, it has gone pseudo-national, and people across the country have tuned in, in mass numbers, to listen to the sometimes outrageous, sometimes offensive, almost always entertaining antics of the key players, Don Geronimo (real name: Mike Sorce), Mike O'Meara, and newsman, Buzz Burbank.
I must admit: I've been one of those people, off and on, for more years than I can count anymore. For me, though, the most fascinating facet hasn't really been any one of the 3 already mentioned. Don, the head honcho, upon whose life most of the material has been based (or, at very least, his tastes have taken the lead in the creation of their shtick), is and always has been somewhat abrasive on-air, only barely skirting the edge of propriety, and often falling off that edge. He's clever, bawdily funny, and usually makes every effort to be offensive by knocking the weaknesses of other people. He has a special take on females.
So what could possibly be redeeming about such a person?
His love for his wife, Freda. The general consensus, seemingly reached by many people (mostly women) at many different moments, independent of the others, is that Don must be a kinder, gentler person off the air. Why? Otherwise, someone like Freda would not have stayed married to him all these years.
Though she may not have been on the show every day, it was Freda's voice that the public heard when Don needed a sounding board. It was Freda who lent an air of common sense, by way of calling in to the show, when Don went too far with a bit, especially if it pertained to women and their place in the world.
Freda has been a part of the Don and Mike show for just about all the years the show's been aired.
On the afternoon of Sunday, July 10, 2005, Freda Sorce's voice was silenced forever in a car accident in Ocean City, Maryland. State police reports indicate that she was struck head-on by a vehicle crossing the median on Route 90. She died later in the day at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
I didn't know Freda personally. I met her once. She was one of those folks that agreed to talk with me, to give me a bit of her time, and she allowed me to put that conversation into a print newspaper interview. It was years ago, yet I still remember how bubbly she was, how she laughed so very much. That fact struck me enough that I made note of it in the article.
I remember calling the Sorce home after the interview to let Freda know when it would hit the paper. She was out that day, but I spoke with Don. Again, so many years ago, but it remains in my memory bank how quiet, polite and soft-spoken he was. He took the message and thanked me. Brief but somehow the exchange seemed to back up the reason I had requested that interview with his wife in the first place.
Entertainment is that -- entertainment. And entertainers put on a show. Plain and simple. I've done enough interviews to believe that each entertainer has a nucleus within him or her of the character portrayed, in whatever medium, but that does not mean that every facet of an on-air persona reflects the reality of true character.
The main question I asked Freda: How could she live with a man who made his living publicly dissing the rest of the population?
She loved him. She knew him, the real him. And he loved her. It was obvious to me, as a woman, each time I heard him speak with her. It mattered not that he was in character. They had built a long and successful partnership, a personal oasis away from the microphone -- even while the microphone was on -- and Freda was his rock. Freda was the reason that many women continued, over the years, to tune into the Don and Mike show. That male/female interaction between them was comforting. It somehow representated a truism of relationships -- that even though not everything was always right, that even though both partners weren't always happy with the other or didn't always agree . . . at the end of the day, they stayed together. They stayed in love and, over the years together, they grew more intricately entwined.
That was Freda's beauty.
I placed my interview with her on my website 2 weeks ago, while she and Don were on vacation in Ocean City:
I added it because it was one of a few I'd misplaced over the years and recently located. I have many others uploaded, and they've been public for quite some time. This one, for whatever reason, was revived only days before she went to her eternity, becoming one of those previously-mentioned cosmic "coincidences." I've added this piece, now, because people have found the other and written me about it, asking me to do a follow-up.
This one's for you, Freda. You were one helluva woman, and women across the country will miss your voice of sanity, a voice that spoke for other women in many ways. God's blessing to your family as they deal with your loss.
As indicated on the Don and Mike website, the following is requested by the Sorce family:
In lieu of flowers please make a donation
in the name of Freda Wright-Sorce
to the Worcester County Humane Society.
Worcester Humane Society
P.O. Box 48
Berlin MD 21811