Thursday was an unusually busy day for sports-talk radio, with the NCAA Tournament ramping up in full force all day in addition to the regular heavy load of athletic activities that occur every March. But things quickly turned from the comparatively trivial jock-jabbering to a scary health situation at KXFN (1380 AM) when afternoon drive-time program co-host Jeff Gordon passed out while on the air shortly after the show signed on at 3 p.m.
Gordon, who is a sports columnist for STLtoday.com, and partner Brian McKenna were broadcasting from Bruno’s American Grill, at 2652 Hampton Ave., when Gordon became ill and fainted.
“It was really frightening,’’ McKenna said. “He wasn’t feeling well all day but he wasn’t vomiting and I don’t think he had a fever. But he was dehydrated . . . It was such an important day to be on the air, but I said, ‘Gordo, why don’t you just go home? He said, ‘No no, I feel fine.’ But toward the end of the first segment he started getting white. He looked at me, he put his hand up like 'I can’t do this right now.’ He put his head on his laptop (computer) and the next thing I know he went to his left and he blacked out. He hit the (floor), he was on his back.’’
The establishment’s owner, Dave Bruno, said it happened suddenly.
“I’m running around here like crazy trying to get things done (on a hectic NCAA tourney day) and all of a sudden Brian McKenna is yelling, ‘Call 911!'’’
But such a call was not necessary. Bruno’s son Dave Bruno Jr., who is a Brentwood firefighter and emergency medical technician, was in the building.
“My son took care of him for a while’’ and got him on his feet, Bruno Sr. said.
Gordon was given some fluids and food, and after sitting up for about an hour was able to go home.
“It was scary,’’ McKenna said. “On the air I had to let our producer know what was going on, so I said ‘Hey John we’ve got to go to break, Gordo just passed out.’ So he threw it to break.’’
Early Thursday night, Gordon said he was feeling better.
“It was an after-affect of either the flu or some food poisoning,’’ he said. “I just suddenly had a blackout there, was able to shake it off and get home.’’
But not before some tense moments.
“I just started feeling like I was going under, tried to wave Brian off and put my head down on the table and the next thing I know they’re reviving me on the floor,’’ Gordon said.
He thinks his biggest lingering problem is a sprained ankle suffered when he fell.
“I’ll probably hobble in’’ to do the show Friday,’’ he said.
And he had a sense of humor about the incident.
“I probably could have finished the show, but I’m sure they wanted to get me out of there so I’m not (an insurance) liability to their restaurant,” he joked before touching on the impending change of formats for the station from sports to female-oriented talk.
“It was sort of a symbolic moment for 1380,’’ he said.
Evan Makovsky, host of 1380’s morning drive-time show, lives nearby and joined McKenna after Gordon departed.