Eighty-eight days after a spinal cord injury took him off the air and changed his life forever, Philly radio icon and 94.1 WIP host Big Daddy Graham was to leave Room 301 at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday and return home.
Graham (whose real name is Edward Gudonis) remains paralyzed from the waist down after emergency spinal cord surgery in July. The longtime sports talker is coming to terms with the likelihood he’ll never be able to walk again.
“I’m glad to be going home, but not completely," said Graham, 66, who will be confined to a wheelchair and need the help of his wife, Debbie. “There’s enough people down here telling me miracle stories. But they’re telling me miracle stories because apparently that’s what it’s going to take for me to walk again."
Fortunately for Graham, he’ll be able to return soon to WIP, where he’ll host his overnight radio show from his bedroom due to his limited mobility. He also plans to continue writing, but Graham said an increasing amount of his income has come from performing at private parties. He’ll now have to figure out how to do that in a wheelchair.
“Most private parties are people sitting at round tables with chairs … and I would take a wireless mic and move all throughout them," Graham explained. “I don’t know how I’m going to do that in a wheelchair, because they won’t see me.”
Graham, who joined WIP in 1997, has largely spent the last two decades as the station’s overnight host and became known for the wild stunts he would perform during Wing Bowl. Graham was also a cohost of The Sports Attack alongside Scott Graham and Neil Hartman in the mid-1990s on 1210 AM, which at the time broadcast a largely syndicated all-sports format as WGMP The Game.
But Graham is also a well-known comedian, recording artist, and author, most recently cowriter of a revised edition of The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists with fellow WIP host Glen Macnow, which is scheduled for release Oct. 29.
Graham has battled a number of health problems in recent years — major back surgery, throat cancer, a staph infection, and a 2016 episode in which he was hospitalized after hiccuping for 41 hours straight.