by Rob Wagman
I have broken my wife’s heart before, so I know the depths of that cry that encapsulates the sound of unbearable pain. When we got the news of Heather Sheppard’s passing, my wife’s cries started with the lip curling, but within minutes, that all too familiar bellow that a hug can only hold down, but not quiet.
You could have missed her presence if you had a case of the self-absorbs or were the kind that didn’t dig deep into other marketplaces to find out what existed out there. I know for Matt Reid, the talent who hosts the soon to be nationally syndicated, show, “The Uplift,” he got an early introduction to the many depths of the heart, mind and soul of Heather Sheppard.
We discussed, in detail, what he would be looking for if he were to ever add a co-host to his current offerings and Matt had shared actual audio of what he would love to eventually offer, and the talent he showcased to me on that clip, was none other than Heather.
It’s amazing the inroads she was able to make with people, considering that beyond her time on The Light Radio Network out of Essex Junction in Vermont, I am not sure she has a resume that wields any other call letters on it at any other time in her life.
Like Getting Smacked In The Face
The impact Heather had on me was instant, as I had the honor to meet face to face with all of the on-air talent, management and programming staff at the Light Radio. I am an encourager by nature, especially with on air talent, because I have seen proof that if you compliment talent on the things they do well, the areas where they have the most difficulty or the most need to change goes away quickly and naturally if you’re able to keep them grounded in the good.
So, on that day, knowing nothing about anyone in the building yet, I meet them all one by one, and then there’s Heather, and immediately her presence was obvious, but then she spoke and the personality oozed in the richest way carrying with that the one two punch of charisma and talent, but within seconds we were going to add to that Holy Spirit anointing and God’s favor, and I actually uttered these words, not hiding much, “Woah, do you know who you are?”
And in that second of response, we began a relationship of trust, understanding and an incredible journey whereas I was able to pour into her life with the knowledge I have on how to get talent to get out of their own way, to create the greatest impact and best experience for their audience.
Heather was the co-host of the Shawn & Heather Morning Show, a perfect blend of talents from Shawn Tkach, the PD of the Light Radio, who I could write a whole other incredible story on, based on his life of discipline, talents, instincts and dry wit.
Heather Will Live
When Heather first went into the hospital with symptoms of the coronavirus, as hard as it was for her, I never got concerned for her recovery, and was following her timeline almost daily. I was relieved when she was released and part of me, went back to the thought I had, when I just knew she’d be fine on the other side of all of this.
Covid-19 has been less kind to people who carry pre-existing conditions and with Heather, who was a fighter and battler of NMO, Neuromyelitis Optica, a disorder which affects the central nervous system, mostly the optic nerve and the spine; to which there is no known cure.
But Heather was out, which was a sign that she was good, and with that relief, I didn’t pay attention to her Facebook feed as much. That is, until my wife came home and told me that Heather was back in the hospital. Fear didn’t hit me, and while I knew there was need for concern, I knew that Heather wasn’t any normal human being, and I knew where her strength came from, so I had reason to low level my concerns still.
My wife didn’t know Heather, except that when I was airchecking the Shawn & Heather show, from time to time, my wife would hear me and couldn’t stop herself from chiming in with some insights of her own. From those short moments, her and Heather drummed up a relationship on Facebook that drove deep fast, and the two of them encouraged each other with positivity and messages of God’s goodness often. My wife does mornings in Charlotte, on WKKT 96.9 The Kat, so her and Heather’s routines fit well in their early morning texts and Facebook posts.
Looking a Gift Horse
At the end of each year, I typically write a heartfelt note to all of my clients reminding them of the growth over the year or years and then I attach a gift of cookies or chocolates or something fun. This year, I had completed this task and was a day away from mailing all of the gifts. My wife made me find the box that contained Heather’s gift and she opened it up. I had already sealed the card, but that didn’t deter her, she wrote an extremely deep, insightful and heartfelt note on the outside of the envelope that went along with the package, put it back in the box and resealed.
Heather would later tell me how she was so moved by the words on the envelope that she was unable to throw the envelope away, nor did she want to.
I believed at every stage, Heather would recover, and so did so many, but she went into ICU again and then one day she wrote a message to not text her but gave info on who to communicate with. Her lungs were going through a ton, and eventually she would have to be intubated. Even then, I believed, believed, believed.
But then she passed, and my wife howled, for hours, and then a day would go by and she would be reminded of Heather again and the cry would return as powerful as the first day.
The Light Wasn’t Just Her Radio Station
And then I started reading Heather’s Facebook, and post after post, it was quickly becoming apparent that this thing that happened to my wife and I, this being gripped by great sadness, loss and mourning was not isolated. Heather had affected a massive amount of people from listeners, to co-workers to musicians, artists and other charities and non-profit organizations to churches and then some people who had never met her but got touched by the same incredible light.
I encourage you to take a look at Heather’s Facebook page to taste and see what being a light in this world, an advocate for the underprivileged and a mouthpiece for God really looks like.
I have lost family members and so many people that have been close, but none caused my heart to mourn the way Heather Sheppard did when she passed from this world into the presence of God.
Matthew 25:23 “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Since 1991, Rob Wagman has been known first by his faith, and then by his skills in the secular side of this Industry, and now is known by his versatility, having succeeded in both radio and records in multiple formats from Christian Contemporary, Rock, Alternative, Top 40, Rhythm, Urban and Hot AC, in various roles from On Air to Programming to Marketing and Promotions.