Cancer takes longtime GR radio personality’s voice

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After decades of broadcasting on Grand Rapids airwaves, a familiar voice has been silenced.

“He brought a musician’s ear to the radio studio,” Tim Steele said of Aris Hampers, the man behind the voice.

Steele said he has known Hampers for over 40 years. They worked in radio together.

“We had nicknames for each other on air,” Steele said. “I always called Aris the Jedi knight of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Steele learned through a message Hampers posted to Facebook that Hampers has a one-and-a-half inch cancerous tumor on his windpipe.

“The tumor had already severely damaged my voice box/larynx to the point that it could not be saved. The only way for me to survive was to have it removed,” Hampers wrote. 

“I was struck by his candor. He decided not to complain about anything,” Steele said. “He was just dealing with the reality of the situation as it happened.”

Hampers wrote to News 8 that he never thought he would live to see 70.

“So, accepting this unfortunate bump is easier than one might think. I just don’t see any point in feeling sorry for myself,” Hampers wrote.

“That’s typical of Aris, and then the picture he posted (to Facebook) was very brave,” Steele said. “But then again, not surprising because it’s Aris.”

The legendary DJ said he is cancer-free. In a post online, he wrote, “even though it tried to take me, it failed. I may be broken, but I’m still here.”

“I wish Aris nothing but the best,” said Steele, a former WOOD TV8 staffer who now works for another station owned by the same parent company.

Though cancer defeated Hamper’s voice, it didn’t conquer his legacy in radio and it certainly didn’t quiet Steele’s treasured memories with Hamper on and off the air.

“Aris is a rocker,” Steele said. “I love the guy and will remember him as the Jedi knight of rock ‘n’ roll.”

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