Howard Sattler gives voice to thanks


Howard Sattler and Gillian Penman.
Howard Sattler and Gillian Penman.

RADIO shock-jock Howard Sattler is using national Speech Pathology Week to thank the woman he credits with his imminent return to broadcasting.

Sattler’s speech challenges began with a Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2012 and he said his voice deteriorated further after he was controversially sacked from 6PR.

He has spent most of 2016 learning to speak clearly again, after treatment for throat cancer burned his throat and left it swollen.

“Trouble was I had virtually no voice. The radiotherapy had swollen and burned my voice chords and initially I was put on ‘voice rest’ – no speaking – for three weeks,” Sattler said via email.

“But I had to move on and I was fortunate to link up with Gillian though the rehab program the WA Health Department runs for Parkinson’s clients.”

Fremantle Hospital senior speech pathologist Gillian Penman has given him the confidence to contemplate a return to broadcasting later this month.

She said people who try to overcome the effects of radiotherapy on the throat without guidance may produce a hoarse, strained and breathy voice due to muscle tension.

Sattler started his own web station, called The Sattler Files, from his Mt Pleasant home in the hopes of getting back behind the mike and says the biggest challenge was to discipline himself to relax and slow down.

“I have marked myself pretty hard during this whole journey with Parkinson’s so I would not get back behind the microphone unless my audience could clearly understand me,” Sattler said.

To prepare for a return to the mike, he must relax his shoulders and conduct a series of exercises including yawning, humming and even giggling.

He must take care not to drop to a low, monotone raspy voice and makes sentences more manageable by grouping three or four words together.

“Clearly without speech pathology, and especially Gillian, I would not be contemplating a return to broadcasting,” he said.

Ms Penman said Speech Pathology Week, which runs until this Saturday, aimed to create awareness of the 1.1 million Australian who have communication or swallowing difficulties due to developmental delays, stroke, brain injury or disability.

“Communication skills underpin the ability to read and write, get a job and interact with family and friends,” she said,

“We work with people to change their lives and build opportunities.”