For twenty-two years, his acerbic, irreverent, often risqué wit, coupled with his distinctive barrel-house laugh, have comically combined to make John “Bad Dog” McCormack one of the top “dawgs” in Memphis radio. In a typical interchange, on-air partner, Ric Chetter coyly asked about the effects of McCormack’s chemotherapy treatments, “A woman neighbor of mine asked me the other day that when you lost your hair did you lose all of it?”
McCormack blurted, “I did thin out in some of the nether regions!”
But, since being diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia last fall, “Bad Dog” has used his infectious laughter as a lethal weapon to ward off the pain inflicted by the deadly disease and the sometimes depressive effects induced by the his chemotherapy treatments.
Radio colleague Tim Spencer, in praise of McCormack, marveled, “I’ve never seen anybody that sick have such a great attitude from the very beginning. From the very beginning, he just had this terrific attitude. He just knew he was going to get through it.” [source]
Bad Dog’s simple honesty in not hiding his diagnosis from his friends or his audience has impressed all around him, including Chetter, his current radio partner of three years on the Rock 103 Morning Show. McCormack told him the sobering news of his condition by phone from a hospital room.
Chetter reflected, “Honestly, I thought he was kidding. This is what we do around here. We immerse ourselves in a comic lifestyle. I asked him. I said, ‘So, what’s going on? What’s your deal? What’s your story?’ And he says, well, he came right out with it. He said, ‘I have Leukemia.’ I went, yeah, right. Tell me another. It scared the hell out of me!”
Spencer added, “I started reading about it, Googling Leukemia, in particular ALM and it was very scary when I read how serious ALM is.”
When asked why he went public, McCormack resolutely explained, “I’ve lived my life on the radio. There is no sense in trying to hide anything from anybody. This stuff gets around fast in this little town, anyway. So, I thought just come right out with it and deal with it like a man.”
Trying to cope just as strongly with the challenges presented by Bad Dog’s illness and treatment has been Spencer, his long-time friend and colle