Back on the Air in San Francisco

KPIX Reporter Mike Sugerman returned to the air yesterday after being M-I-A for the past 6 months.

Last August, Sugerman felt a pain in his side, as if he'd been shot with an arrow. Three months and six specialists later, all the while continuing to work, he was hospitalized with aortitis, an extremely rare condition that involves inflammation of the aortic wall.

"There are doctors that have never seen this before and they can't figure it out," says Sugerman, who likes to put a light touch on his news stories, including the one about his own health. This started 13 years ago when he collapsed at the station after covering the Giants opening day for KPIX. He ended up in six hours of surgery for a torn aorta. This recent infection is linked to that, though nobody seems to know how or why.

"The aorta is a likely culprit," says Sugerman, 59, who spent three weeks in the hospital and has been on intravenous antibiotics at his home near West Portal in San Francisco. He is married to Janice Wright, a weekend anchor for KCBS, the all-news KPIX radio affiliate where Sugerman works one day a week. Wright took a month off to help her husband convalesce.

One week before he entered the hospital, last November, Sugerman was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. He has been on the air for 42 consecutive years, starting with the college station KCSB on his first day at UC Santa Barbara. He is now in his 30th year at KCBS, where his show "About the Bay," airs Monday mornings.

"I've gone from KCSB to KCBS," he says. "I've never changed call letters."