Talk show host Larry Young has just brushed back death for the third time.
Young, 72, is a former Maryland state legislator and a mainstay of Urban One Radio (WOLB 1010 AM), where for the past 25 years he has been host of “The Larry Young Morning Show.”
Young said Tuesday in a telephone interview that he has been off the air since April 10, when he was rushed to the hospital after suffering a dangerous infection in his foot that had been exacerbated by his Type 2 diabetes. Young had spent the previous four days attending the National Action Network Conference in New York.
“I knew I had a problem,” Young said. “I didn’t know it was as severe as it was. When I got to the hospital, the doctors gave me two options: amputation or death. That is a terrible thing to hear.”
Young’s leg was removed below the knee. He was scheduled for one final surgery Tuesday to remove the staples. He will be in a wheelchair for two months, and then expects to be fitted with a prosthetic leg.
If all goes well, Young hopes to return to the broadcast in early June and to resume most activities by August.
“I won’t be able to run,” he said. “But I should be able to walk and I should be back to normalcy.”
In Young’s absence, his morning show has been hosted by T.J. Smith, a former spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department and a former candidate for mayor, and former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who recently was released from prison after serving 19 months for conspiracy, perjury and tax evasion.
“Larry is a wonderful person and we all miss him terribly,” said Howard Mazer, the radio station’s general manager. “I’m sure all of our listeners are looking forward to his return.”
Mazer said Young would often arrive at work at 5:30 a.m., host the morning show, and then remain at his desk until late at night making calls on his listeners’ behalf.
“The word ‘no’ is not in Larry’s vocabulary,” Mazer said. “He will go out of his way to help someone, no matter what. If someone doesn’t have enough money to pay the rent, Larry will find a way for them to get it. If someone is having problems getting their Social Security check, Larry will go to bat for them.
“The radio station is important to Larry. But the ability to do things for the community matters above and beyond everything else.”
Young joined WOLB in 1998. He said this is the third time in 25 years that serious health problems have forced him to take a long hiatus. In 2004, he was rushed to the hospital with a life-threatening heart ailment.
“My doctors told me I had a 1% chance of surviving,” Young said.
He returned to the air less than a month later.
Then, in 2012, he experienced medication-related bleeding in his brain. Young later told The AFRO newspaper that his doctors informed him if he’d waited for six more hours to seek treatment, he would have died.
“I was saying to God last night, ‘This is the third time I’ve been at death’s door,” he said. “But each time I’ve gotten back on my feet, and I am so thankful.”
Young said he is using his enforced downtime to work on a book chronicling his quarter century on radio and before that, his quarter century in the state legislature.
From 1975 until he was elected to the state Senate in 1988, Young represented Baltimore in the House of Delegates. In 1998, he was expelled from the Senate for alleged ethics violations. A jury in Anne Arundel County later acquitted him of criminal bribery and tax evasion charges, but Young decided not to seek reelection.
“There’s a lot that I have to say in my book,” Young said, “unless my lawyers tell me that I can’t.”
In the meantime, he’s looking forward to being honored by Talkers Magazine, which, Young said, will present him with its lifetime achievement award. And he’s looking forward to returning to the air — at least temporarily.
“This is my 25th year in radio,” he said. “I’m weighing whether it’s time to retire. But even if that’s what I decide, I won’t leave before the end of the year.”