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National Govt & Politics
With my voice still gone, time for Jamie Dupree 2.0
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With my voice still gone, time for Jamie Dupree 2.0

With my voice still gone, time for Jamie Dupree 2.0
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

With my voice still gone, time for Jamie Dupree 2.0

As I sat in my doctor's office last Friday morning outside of the nation's capital, President Donald Trump was holding forth on the South Lawn of the White House. Russia should be back in the G-7. He might issue more pardons. He wasn't backing off on his fight over trade barriers. It was yet another time over the last two years that while the President was making major news, I was visiting yet another medical professional in the pursuit of answers - what happened to my voice, and will it ever come back?

The answer is - I don't know. And my many doctors don't know, either.

My voice is in there. From time to time, words fall out of my mouth that sound normal. But for the most part, I can't speak more than one or two words at a time before it goes haywire.

And that's a problem for someone who has been doing news on the radio since 1983.

The medical diagnosis is tongue protrusion dystonia - which basically means my tongue isn't working correctly, as it pops out of my mouth when I talk, causing problems for my speech.

I can talk a little with a pen in my mouth, getting out words and phrases that are more slurred than anything else.

And the thing that I struggle to explain to people is something more basic - this isn't just about being on the radio. I can't really have an extended conversation with my kids, my wife, my father, my sister, my friends and family. I can't say much to the guys I play golf with, my neighbors, or anyone.

"I heard you string together about four or five words," my wife told me after my youngest son's baseball game on Friday evening, as I've continued to coach his team, with help from other parents, even as my voice has all but disappeared over the last two years.

"You got a couple words out here and there," my father said last Thursday, after we had watched our Washington Capitals finally win the Stanley Cup.

What's it like? Just imagine going through the rest of your day without being able to say much more than 'yes' or 'no.'

No ordering food at the drive through. I can't call doctors to make an appointment. When I pick up something, I can't say my phone number or my name. At the local pizza place, I write my name down on a piece of paper when I come in for carry out. I do the same thing when picking up a prescription, or getting gas for the grill.

And when the phone rings, I usually don't answer it. Because I can't talk.

When I returned my team's baseball equipment bag last fall, I handed it over with my name written on a piece of paper, so it would be clear to all that it was mine.

The two women at the desk laughed at me.

"I guess he can't remember his name," one of them said, as they giggled.

But I haven't given up.

A plea for help

For months, some of my co-workers had been helping me search for a company that might have a software program which could take my years of audio archives, and build what would basically be a Jamie Dupree 'voice app,' which might allow me to get back on the air.

For months, I had been doing my own detective work on a computer generated voice solution - but we had all run into a brick wall. Major software companies in the U.S. didn't want to share what they had developed. Other companies around the world needed you to record hours of material in order for the program to work - but I could barely say my name.

By December of 2017, things were bleak on all fronts. There were no medical breakthroughs. My voice was still a mess. And there were questions about my job future.

Then, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) went to the floor of the House.

"Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about Jamie Dupree," Ros-Lehtinen said, publicizing my voice troubles and the lack of answers.

She had no idea it was just a day after my birthday. She had no idea that she was delivering me a birthday present that I so badly needed. It got me attention, both inside and outside of my company.

That speech on the House floor spurred interest from other news organizations. Ben Strauss wrote an article in Politico which detailed my efforts to keep my job in radio - even without a voice.

A few days later, the Washington Post chipped in with their own version of the story.

Emails and social media messages poured in with all sorts of ideas on what was wrong, and where I should seek treatment.

Other news organizations asked questions as well, led by CNN's medical unit. Producer Sandee LaMotte - who listened to me on WSB in Atlanta - helped me find a neurological expert at the Emory University Brain Health Center who had actually treated similar cases.

Dr. Hyder Jinnah didn't promise miracles - and I didn't expect them.

"Based on what I know so far, you appear to have an uncommon subtype of a rare disorder," Dr. Jinnah told me when I went to visit him in March.

In other words, there was no magic wand.

In May, I went back to Emory for two shots of Botox to my tongue, with the hope that such a treatment would keep my tongue from popping out of my mouth, and allow me the chance to speak again.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

That first Botox treatment hasn't really worked. I will be going back to Emory in August for another pair of shots to my tongue, this time with a little more Botox.

The search for Jamie Dupree, Version 2.0

In the meantime, my plight had attracted the attention of people inside my company, Cox Media Group, and a new effort was underway at the Atlanta headquarters to see if we could find a high tech solution to get me back on the air.

What they found was a Scottish company named CereProc, which agreed to sift through years of my archived audio, and build a voice - which, when paired with a text-to-speech application - would sound like me, and hopefully get me back on the radio.

The big news today is that it looks like that is going to work, and allow me to "talk" on the radio again.

Here's the announcement from Scott Slade, who hosts the morning news on WSB AM/FM in Atlanta.

https://cmgwsbradiojamiedupree.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/scott-slade-jamie-dupree.mp3

Does the voice sound perfect? No. But it does sound like me.

When I type out some words - the text-to-speech program that I use spits them out in my new Jamie Dupree 2.0 voice.

And starting next week, the plan is for me to again feed stories to our Cox Media Group news-talk radio stations, and be back on the air in our hourly newscasts, reporting the news from Capitol Hill and Washington, D.C.

What does it sound like? Try this:

https://cmgwsbradiojamiedupree.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/jamie-dupree-6.mp3

Yes, it will probably sound robotic to some of my listeners; but for the first time in two years, I will be back on the radio.

Jamie Dupree 2.0 is here - and I couldn't be more excited about it!

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Southeastern Grocers announced the closing of another eight Florida stores in coming months. Jacksonville based Southeastern Grocers, is the parent company to Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Bi-Lo and Fresco y Mas grocery stores.  The company owns more than 550 stores throughout the southeast and declared bankruptcy last spring. The bankruptcy restructuring included closing 94 stores to help lower debt by about $600 million.  In addition to the eight stores closing in Florida, two of which are in Central Florida, another 14 are closing throughout the South.  The two in Central Florida include the Winn-Dixie at 7840 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy in Kissimmee and the Winn-Dixie at 5732 N. Hiawassee Road in Orlando.
  • Prosecutors in Illinois have filed 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against R&B musician R. Kelly, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said Friday at a news conference. Foxx said the charges were related to incidents alleged to have occurred between 1998 and 2010 with four separate victims. >> Read more trending news Update 9:20 p.m. EST Feb. 22: R. Kelly turned himself in to Chicago police after being charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. The 52-year-old singer, whose real name is Robert Kelly, arrived at the precinct in a van about 8:15 p.m. Friday. If taken into custody, he is expected to be held overnight and appear Saturday in bond court. Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg said he maintains his innocence and looks forward to being acquitted at trial. Update 6:30 p.m. EST Feb. 22: R. Kelly’s attorney said the singer is “shell-shocked” by the aggravated sexual abuse indictment against him and plans to turn himself in to authorities Friday night. Steve Greenberg told The Associated Press that his client is “extraordinarily disappointed and depressed” by the 10 counts Chicago prosecutors filed against him. Update 3:15 p.m. EST Feb. 22: Authorities held a brief news conference Friday to announce the charges against Kelly. Foxx said the charges brought against Kelly involve four victims, three of which were under the age of 17 at the time of the alleged sexual abuse. The alleged sexual abuse took place between 1998 and 2010, she said. The charges are class 2 felonies which carry maximum sentences of seven years per charge, Foxx said. She added that they were “also probationable.” “We anticipate that Mr. Kelly will appear in bond court tomorrow afternoon,” Foxx said. Update 2:50 p.m. EST Feb. 22: The Chicago Tribune reported that the charges against Kelly involve four victims, at least three of which are underage. The incidents were alleged to have occurred between 1998 and 2010 with minors between the ages of 13 and 16, according to the Tribune. A judge on Friday approved of a no-bail arrest warrant for Kelly, the Sun-Times reported. Authorities are expected to provide more information on the case at a news conference Friday afternoon. Original report: Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, confirmed to The Associated Press that charges had been filed against the 52-year-old Grammy winner but declined to say the specific number. Media reports said there were 10 counts, all involving underage victims. >> New sex tape allegedly shows R. Kelly having sex with underage girl, according to reports The charges are felonies that carry maximum sentences of seven years each, if Kelly is convicted, WGN-TV reported. Kelly, one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, has several times over the years been accused of sexual misconduct, allegations that he’s consistently denied. Jurors acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges at a 2008 trial. Those charges stemmed from a video prosecutors alleged showed of Kelly having sex with a girl as young as 13. >> Report: R. Kelly being investigated by Atlanta-area DA after docuseries abuse allegations The latest charges were filed nearly two weeks after a man gave authorities new footage that purportedly showed Kelly engaging in sexual acts with an underage girl. The man's attorney, Michael Avenatti, told CNN last week that the man was a whistleblower. Avenatti said his client “worked for and has known R. Kelly for decades and he met the girl on a number of occasions.” On Friday, Avenatti seemed to announce the charges against Kelly with a two word tweet: “It’s over.” >> Who is R. Kelly? 7 things to know  “After 25 years of serial sexual abuse and assault of underage girls, the day of reckoning for R. Kelly has arrived,” he wrote in a subsequent tweet. Avenatti said he will provide more information about the case at a press conference Friday afternoon. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx is also expected to hold a news conference Friday. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office have until midnight Friday to make recommendations about the sentencing for President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who pleaded guilty to several charges last year. >> Read more trending news Prosecutors are expected to file the sentencing memo in federal court in Washington, where Manafort pleaded guilty in September to charges including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering. >> More on Robert Mueller's investigation  Manafort agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors; however, authorities later said Manafort lied to investigators. Prosecutors are not expected to recommend leniency for him. Manafort’s attorneys will have until midnight Monday to file their own sentencing memo. A judge is expected to hand down Manafort’s sentence March 13 at a 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. >> Judge rules Paul Manafort intentionally lied after agreeing to cooperate In a separate case that also stemmed from Mueller’s investigation, a jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty last summer of tax and bank fraud charges in a case related to work he and an associate did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. Prosecutors last week recommended Manafort serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison and be fined as much as $24 million for those crimes. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced in that case during a 9 a.m. hearing March 8 before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, according to a court filing. >> Mueller recommends Paul Manafort be sentenced to 19.5-24.5 years in prison and $24M fine Last month, defense attorneys said Manafort has been kept in solitary confinement for his own safety. He’s had severe gout for several months of his incarceration, according to his attorneys, and it’s sometimes been severe enough to require him to use a wheelchair. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • An Alabama woman has been charged with multiple burglaries that she is accused of committing while the homeowners were at the funerals of loved ones. Jennifer Lynn Azizian, of Madison, is charged with four counts of felony burglary out of Priceville and a single count of misdemeanor burglary by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff’s Office and Priceville police officials allege Azizian found her targets by reading local obituaries. She then Googled addresses of those listed as survivors and broke into their homes while they were attending the funerals, investigators said.  “She would then go to the address during the time of the funeral and forcibly enter the home to locate prescription medication,” Sheriff’s Office officials said in a news release. “As people were laying their loved ones to rest, little did they know that someone was adding to their grief by breaking into their homes,” Priceville police officials said in a statement obtained by AL.com. “It was clear that the suspect had been researching obituaries for some time.” >> Read more trending news Princeville police officials said they had video footage of the burglar and her vehicle but did not know who she was, AL.com said. That changed Feb. 20, when Morgan County deputies received a call about a burglary in progress in neighboring Hartselle.  The deputies performed a traffic stop on Azizian, who was identified by the homeowner, Sheriff’s Office officials said.  Azizian allegedly gave investigators a statement admitting to the burglaries. She was booked into the Morgan County Jail with bond set at $60,300. She is no longer listed as an inmate, suggesting she has been released. Geoff Halbrooks, a longtime employee of Peck Funeral Home in Hartselle, told WHNT News 19 in Huntsville that social media is making crimes like those Azizian is accused of easier to commit. “(They) look on social media and look at their newspapers and just find those families,” Halbrooks said. “There are ways to do that now without a funeral home or anyone else giving their specific address.” He urged grieving loved ones to have someone they trust house-sit while they are away at funerals.  “There are friends and extended family members that would be glad to stay at their home to watch over their personal things while they're handling the affairs of the funeral,” Halbrooks told the news station. 
  • New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been charged in connection with a prostitution sting in Florida, WFXT reported. >> Read more trending news The charge follows a series of raids involving at least eight massage parlors on the east coast of Florida. In a statement, officials with the NFL said the league was “aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments,” according to NFL.com. On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of two women on prostitution, racketeering and money laundering charges and said nearly 200 others would be arrested on solicitation charges. Police in Vero Beach announced the arrest of eight other suspects linked to three massage parlors, plus nearly 200 men who solicited prostitution. >> See the latest on Boston25News.com Police confirmed Friday that Kraft was involved in the bust. Authorities said surveillance camera footage showed him inside one of the spas. “He was a regular,” police said. Authorities in Jupiter said they filed a complaint against Kraft, who has been charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution. The charge is a misdemeanor. Kraft, 77, denied the veracity of the charges in a statement released Friday. Police said the state attorney in Palm Beach County is handling the case. >> Could Robert Kraft face sanctions from NFL for prostitution charges? Kraft has a long history in Foxborough and New England starting back in 1965, when he graduated from Harvard Business School. Kraft took ownership of the Patriots in 1994 after being a season ticket owner for 23 years. The day he bought the team, he said his objective was to bring a championship to New England.  In the five years before he bought the team, the Patriots had won fewer than 25 percent of their games. In February 2002, the Patriots won their first Super Bowl. >> Photos: Patriots owner Robert Kraft through the years Later that year, Gillette Stadium opened to replace the Foxborough stadium. Gillette was privately funded by Kraft and remains one of the few sports stadiums in the country that didn't rely on public money. One year after buying the Patriots, Kraft became one of the founders of Major League Soccer when he established the New England Revolution.  >> Who is Patriots owner Robert Kraft? In 1998, the Kraft Group was founded, a group of companies including those in the paper and packaging, sports and entertainment, construction and real estate and philanthropy industries. According to the company’s website, they employ nearly 10,000 people worldwide.  Kraft lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, and also owns a home in Palm Beach, Florida. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Washington Insider

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their one page plan on Friday to overturn President Donald Trump's bid to funnel more money to a border wall by declaring a national emergency, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters said the House would vote next Tuesday to block the President's executive actions on funding for the wall. 'Members of Congress all swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution,' the Speaker said. 'The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,' Pelosi wrote earlier this week in a letter to fellow Democrats. Democrats said they already have more than a majority of members signed on to the one page resolution to reject the Trump national emergency. 'We hope that enough of our normal Republican enablers will join us to stand up for the Constitution,' said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). 'If not, we’re ready to turn to the courthouse.' As of Friday, only one Republican in the House had signed on to the plan to reject the President’s national emergency, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). “Trump’s absurd declaration of a “national emergency” undercuts the Constitution,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as approval in the House would send the plan to the Senate. Under special rules governing this process, GOP leaders would not be able to ignore the House action, as a vote must take place on the resolution. But even if it passes in the Senate, a veto is likely by President Trump, and at this point - it seems unlikely that Democrats could muster enough GOP votes for a two-thirds supermajority to override a veto.