After family health scare, Mix 94.7 host takes step to ensure heart wellness

Alex_Dr. Goswami
Alex Franco discusses the HeartSaver CT with Dr. Vivek Goswami. (Heart Hospital of Austin photo)

It’s the kind of call no one wants to receive.

Mix 94.7 morning co-host Alex Franco was on the road back to Austin after a visit to Dallas when he learned from a hospital chaplain that his brother, David, had just had a massive heart attack.

“I was at an exit right outside of Waco,” Franco said. “My heart just dropped when I heard the news. It just kind of came out of nowhere. It didn’t sound good.”

The situation was so severe, Franco learned, that David had to be flown from a Houston hospital to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston by helicopter for treatment.

Franco says his brother didn’t really meet any of the common risk factors. He wasn’t overweight. He wasn’t overly stressed. And he was only 47 years old at the time.

None of that mattered though.

“He had a pacemaker put in,” Franco said. “He had to change his whole lifestyle – and he didn’t have a bad lifestyle before.”

It was that scare that ultimately prompted the radio host to get his own heart checked out at Heart Hospital of Austin, where he underwent the HeartSaver CT test.

“As a male, we tend to procrastinate,” Franco said. “I realized I was taking my heart for granted. I was taking my body, my health for granted. It’s not just me. I have a wife, a 3-year-old boy and a 1-year-old daughter.”

The test only took about five minutes and when he got the results, there was no cause for alarm.

“I’m good,” he said. “I’m clear.”

Dr. Vivek Goswami was Franco’s doctor at Heart Hospital of Austin, where the HeartSaver CT has been performed for about a decade. He says the test is a noncontrasted CT scan that looks for calcium in arteries. It provides patient and doctor both with a numeric score – the higher the score, the higher the risk.

Dr. Goswami suggests the procedure become common practice, much like mammograms and prostate exams.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing more people than cancer, car accidents, infections and suicide,” Dr. Goswami said. “We aren’t routinely doing anything to screen heart disease, even though it’s more likely to kill Americans.”

Everyone eventually develops plaque, Dr. Goswami said, but the amount can vary greatly. Ways to combat the risks it poses include better eating, aerobic exercise and, in some cases, taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

First, though, before determining a course of action, doctors need facts – facts Franco says the HeartSaver CT provides.

“I know, in Austin, we’re all busy, but I really hope others will do this,” Franco said. “If something bad turns up, it can be handled. I don’t want anyone to ever have to deal with the alternative. Nobody should have to go through that.”










Radio mega-merger involves owner of 4 Austin stations

A map of the combined Entercom and CBS Radio stations nationwide (Entercom graphic)
A map of the combined Entercom and CBS Radio stations nationwide (Entercom graphic)

The owner of four Austin radio stations is getting even bigger.

Philadelphia-based Entercom said Thursday it is merging with CBS Radio, which is based in New York.

The combined companies have 244 stations in 47 markets, including Austin, Dallas and Houston. They will operate under the Entercom name, with a corporate headquarters in Philadelphia.

A purchase price was not disclosed, but the companies said the deal would be structured as a Reverse Morris Trust, which would be tax-free to CBS and its stockholders.

In Austin, Entercom owns Mix 94.7, Majic 95.5, 96.3 RnB and Talk Radio 1370.

It’s a reunion of sorts for the Austin stations, which Entercom acquired from CBS Radio a decade ago when the company was divesting its properties in smaller markets.

Former Mix 94.7 host Sandy McIlree lands new gig … in Ohio

Sandy McIlree, left, and JB Hager (Laura Skelding photo / American-Statesman)
Sandy McIlree, left, and JB Hager (Laura Skelding photo / American-Statesman)

Former Mix 94.7 and 105.3 The Fringe morning co-host Sandy McIlree has landed a new gig – and it’s a long, long way from Austin.

More than 1,000 miles away in Ohio, to be exact.

Cincinnati radio station Mix 94.9 announced Wednesday that McIlree, who spent nearly two decades on the air in Austin, is set to join its morning team.

McIlree shared the news on Twitter, saying, “So it begins. So grateful.”

“I’m excited to have talent of Sandy’s caliber join the team,” Mike Fredrick, an executive with station owner Hubbard Interactive, told industry website All Access. “We’re committed to having strong multi-faceted morning shows on all of our properties.”

After leaving Mix 94.7 in late 2013, McIlree and Hager eventually resurfaced on 105.3 The Fringe in 2014. McIlree departed their new on-air home in early 2015, leaving Hager behind.

Hager later left the station, too, and is now out of the radio business.



Mix 94.7 host Jay Styles works to raise mental health awareness with Courage Walk

Jay Styles on a previous Courage Walk.
Jay Styles on a previous Courage Walk.

Jay Styles knows what it’s like to battle depression.

Over the years, the Mix 94.7 afternoon host has been open and honest about his struggles in hopes of helping others in similar situations. One of the most visible ways — his annual Courage Walk — happens this week.

“It’s hard for people to come forward, but once you get them started, once you make it easy for them, you have some really great conversations,” he said. “There really are so many people out there dealing with the same thing.”

This will be the third year for the Courage Walk, which benefits the Austin Dog Alliance’s Hounds for Heroes project — a campaign that pairs veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression with trained service dogs.

Over the course of a week, Styles will walk 100 miles to raise awareness and money. And this year, for the first time, the public is invited to take part by walking the final 5 kilometers (about 3.1 miles) with Styles. The event will take place Saturday at 9 a.m. at Old Settlers Park, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd. in Round Rock.

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this, so when I got here to Austin, I decided to put it in motion,” Styles said. “I wanted something that would stick out and gain some attention. The response has been great.”

He decided to focus on veterans because there are so many in Texas, particularly in the Austin area because of its proximity to Fort Hood.

The 100-mile route Styles plans to take goes mostly through the Georgetown, Round Rock and Pflugerville areas, with law enforcement officers and firefighters expected to join him on and off along the way.

“The relationships we’ve built with those guys are just unbelievable,” he said.

The host admits he’s “not the most athletic guy,” which means the journey takes a toll on his body. His feet swell, he said, and one time he even had to use a cane. But the end result, he believes, is worth it.

“If you see me out there walking, give me a honk,” he said. “This is very important to me. A lot of people are struggling.”

For more details, visit