TRAVERSE CITY — On Tuesday at 10 a.m., Michael John Sheehan of Cedar walked into history.
Or, rather, he talked into history when his “Words to the Wise” radio program, hosted by WTCM NewsTalk 580, broadcast its 900th show in a live performance at the City Opera House.
“A three-legged dog walks into a bar,” Sheehan joked to the live audience assembled inside the City Opera House on Front St.
“I’m here to find the man who shot my paw.”
Sheehan, a.k.a. “The Professor,” a former monk, a former English professor, and the author of two dictionaries has been a weekly guest on WTCM’s Ron Jolly Show every Tuesday since 2001.
“Aren’t your books out of print?” Jolly asked him.
“You can find them used online,” Sheehan deadpanned.
“But they have blood stains on them.”
The easy rapport between the two men is one reason for the show’s longevity, Sheehan said.
“He’s my friend, so that makes it easy,” he said, as fans lined up to congratulate him and take selfies.
Sheehan turned 80 this year, and continues to embrace pop culture. In June, he missed his own show for the first time in several years in order to attend a Rolling Stones concert in Chicago.
Language and vocabulary change with the times, too, which is as it should be, said Sheehan. His show’s motto is, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world,” and Sheehan says he likes watching words and grammar change with the times.
Except when social media posters get a heavy finger on the exclamation key.
“I have a hangnail! Exclamation point!” Sheehan said. “It’s overdone. A legitimate pet peeve.”
Or, when people attach unnecessary words to an acronym. Like “ATM machine,” “PIN number,” or “SAT test.”
“My advice is, don’t do it.”
Words to the Wise is the longest running radio program about words and language in the U.S., according to WTCM.
It began in 2001 when a former WTCM radio personality, Steve Cook, read “Brain Droppings,” a book by comedian George Carlin. Sheehan had read it too, and Cook invited him to talk about it with him on the air.
That interview developed into a show called “Grammatically Incorrect,” which morphed into “Words to the Wise.”
Tuesday’s 900-show achievement was read into the Congressional Record by Rep. Jack Bergman. The show airs Tuesdays at 9 a.m. on NewsTalk 580.