“It feels like home, like I’ve never been away,” Sandy Beeler said.

After nearly eight months off the air, out on medical leave, local radio host Sandy Beeler returned to the studio on Monday morning, as co-host with Tom Chase on BIG Country 103.9 FM.

“But other things are weird for me, like I’m trying to remember how to work the controls in the studio.” She laughs easily as she pokes fun at the awkwardness of recovering from a big health scare.

Her return will be gentle and with lots of support. Sandy is sharing the morning show responsibilities as a way to balance work and a complicated recovery. Listeners can hear her on the BIG Country Morning Show from 6:00 – 9:00 AM, and then in the afternoons on Mix 96.7 FM.

“We are elated, happy, excited and relieved to have Sandy back,” Tom Chase about his new partner. “She has a natural ability to connect with listeners and bond with them in a real and honest way. I’ve missed her.” Tom Chase is Ruby Radio’s VP of Programming and has hosted the BIG Country Morning Show solo since 2016.

“It feels cool to work with someone in studio. I haven’t done a lot of that. It’s great that Tom and I get along and we play off each other well,” she said of her co-host. “Tom is such a pro, he makes it really easy. I don’t think Elko has had a 2-person morning show for a really long time. I’m looking forward to presenting a fun, upbeat spin on the world for our listeners every morning.”

Sandy, originally from Elko, started with Ruby Radio as the front desk receptionist in 2012, and worked her way into commercials, and covering for other DJs until she became the Morning Show host on the area’s leading station, Mix 96.7 FM.

Sandy Beeler on at BIG Country 103.9 FM
Credit: Tom Chase
Sandy Beeler on at BIG Country 103.9 FM

“She didn’t come in asking for on-air work,” Ruby Radio GM and CEO Ken Sutherland said, “but she’s funny. That was always obvious. With her quirky take on the world and quick wit, we had to channel some of that and make it available to the listeners.” Sandy first went behind the mic in 2013. “She’s the hometown girl and we’re really proud of her success.”

Tom Chase described transitioning from hosting the show on his own to sharing the studio. “Our job is to give information and entertain to brighten the days of our listeners. It’s an exciting addition to let Sandy be herself and connect with the audience with her unique style.”

Her absence was felt throughout the community. “I’ve gotten great feedback on Facebook from people,” she said. “I got cards and letters from my listeners who say things like they missed me and their friends and family ask about me. I love hearing that. It means so much to me.”

Sandy has been on medical leave since late-January, dealing with a serious health issue. “It was the strangest thing to be so sick,” she said. “I mean, I don’t remember much about January,” obviously distressed by misplacing a big block of time like that. “Then I woke up from a coma and found out there’s a pandemic going on! That’s so crazy! You cant write that!”

With the quarantine and everyone concerned about spreading COVID in March and April, nurses wouldn’t come for home visits to help her recover. She had to manage her own physical therapy and exercises to regain strength in her arms and legs. She persevered, exercised, learned a lot, and got help from friends and family to get back to normal.

“Everything feels different. I’m like a different person now,” she said. “It feels so good to talk on the mic again and have that outlet. I had to learn to do all of that again.”

“We’re thrilled to have Sandy back and thrilled she is regaining her health,” Ruby Radio’s Sutherland commented. “I want to thank all the listeners and friends who called and supported Sandy during this difficult time.”

 Sandy normally puts a lot of energy into performing and workshopping with Ghost Light Productions, a local theater company. “We can’t do that now. Nothing. No shows, no practices. Live performances are hit the hardest with all this quarantine.” She laughed about the idea of doing Zoom theater, so that’s clearly not in the plans.

Wise Wiener Dog, in progress
By Sandy Beeler

She turned to painting as part of her recovery. “I like doing murals, big stuff. I won’t be able to do that right now physically, and I don’t think places would let me paint with the quarantine, so I’m doing little stuff on canvas. I did a funny one for my mom. She loves wiener dogs.” She also painted the PACE Coalition “Boot” public art in 2017 positioned in front of the Library.

For her future, she’s looking forward to doing her radio shows and building herself back, like all of us coming through a very tough 2020.

“Tune in for a smile. We’ll get through this,” she said, gesturing widely to include both her recovery and the experience of going through the pandemic, “we’ll get through this all together.”

Listen to Sandy and Tom in the Morning on BIG Country 103.9 FM weekdays 6:00 – 9:00 AM, and Sandy on Mix 96.7 FM in the afternoon.

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