Interview with Norm Crosby Comedian and Actor
Starkey Hearing Foundation's Great American Awards Gala
AO/Beck: Good Morning Mr. Crosby.
Crosby: Hi Dr. Beck.
AO/Beck: It's an honor to meet you. I've watched your work from the other side of the television for probably more than 35 years.
Crosby: Thanks. I've been very fortunate that my career has sustained over the years. Making people laugh is the best and it's been just fantastic.
AO/Beck: I am very tempted to just ask you to do a few minutes of stand-up for us, but then we'll never get to the issues about hearing! So let's do this, we'll start with your thoughts and impressions about hearing loss and hearing aids this time, and then next year at the Starkey Gala in Minneapolis, I'll transcribe your whole routine?
Crosby: That's sounds like a plan.
AO/Beck: So, if you don't mind, can we start by talking about your hearing loss and your your experience with hearing aids?
Crosby: Absolutely. I think my hearing problems started during my military service. I was on a sub-chaser in the North Atlantic and the depth charges made a terrific sound, it was very loud and you could feel it through your bones. The hearing loss came about slowly, it was not that one day I was suddenly deaf, it was a gradual thing that came on slowly over time.
AO/Beck: How did you realize you had hearing loss? In other words, at what point did you say - This isn't right, I need to get this checked ?
Crosby: It wasn't me that noticed! Actually, after I was discharged from the service, I went back home to Boston, and it was my mother that noticed. She set me up with an ear doctor, and he did the tests and everything and said I had hearing loss.
AO/Beck: Did he recommend hearing aids at that time?
Crosby: Yes he did. He was very smart, and that was many decades ago. I was about 19 or 20 years old, and it was a little awkward - but the hearing aids worked! I had the big old thing, I think it was called a body aid. I stuck it in my pocket and there were cords that went up to my ears - it looked kinda funny, but it worked very well. As time went on the hearing aids got much better and much smaller. Luckily, as my hearing got worse, the hearing instruments have improved dramatically with regards to controlling some of the background noise, and certainly the overall sound quality is excellent for one-on-one speech understanding. People like Bill Austin at Starkey are always trying to make hearing aids better, and they are so successful it is sometimes overwhelming. To see how far this industry has progressed, and how quickly it has progressed- it's just wonderful.
AO/Beck: What type of hearing aids do you wear now?
Crosby: I currently have Starkey Digital Hearing Aids. I wear the two of them behind-the-ear (BTEs) and they make all the difference in the world. Frankly, when I don't wear the hearing aids, I hear absolutely nothing. It's as simple as that. Dr. Beck, you've seen my audiogram, I am pretty deaf without the hearing aids!
AO/Beck: Yes, you would, indeed, be categorized as deaf. You have a profound hearing loss in both ears, and in fact, the term profound actually refers to hearing loss of 90 dB or worse, and your loss is closer to 100 dB in each ear. Mr. Crosby, what can you tell me about the cosmetic issues?
Crosby: Well, as I said, cosmetics may be terrifically important to some people, but to me -- I just wanna hear! Besides that, I think hearing aids look fine, and again, they're much smaller now than before. In fact, even the big ones are just about invisible.
AO/Beck: If you don't mind, can I take a close-up of your ear so people can see how the BTE looks?
Crosby: Sure, if a photo of my hearing aid helps people try hearing aids - take two! I'd much rather have better hearing than be better looking! But seriously, I do know that people are very concerned about what it looks like, and that's something each of us has to think about and then decide what's important for ourselves. To me, to sacrifice hearing and worry about what it looks like is absurd - but I respect the decisions others make too.
AO/Beck: I can say without any hesitation that even though I know you're wearing two BTEs, I cannot see them from 4 feet in front of you. However, when you turn your head to the side, I get a slight glimpse of them, if I look for them.
Crosby: Yes, I hear that all the time. Most people never notice them at all.
AO/Beck: Are you still the spokesperson for the Better Hearing Institute?
Crosby: I was the first spokesperson for the Better Hearing Institute in Washington
And that's the message we tried to send out - there is hearing help out there, and the technology and options are amazing. I was the first person to receive the Golden Ear Award, and I think I was the first person on television to talk about hearing loss and hearing aids. I did Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore and Mike Douglas, and I got thousands and thousands of letters from people who went out and got hearing aids because they were inspired to do that because they saw it on TV.
I remember telling Johnny Carson, on the air, that I had a wonderful new hearing aid, and I told him it had wonderful new audibility and decibels and augmented transfusions and
I could tell he was really impressed. He asked What kind is it ? And I said About a quarter to eleven. So he let me bring this up and make it a topic for discussion in America's living rooms.
AO/Beck: Mr. Crosby, how well can you hear on the phone?
Crosby: Excellent. I do fantastic on the phone.
AO/Beck: Do you use the telecoil?
Crosby: No, as a matter of fact I don't. I just put the phone right to my ear against the ear mold and the hearing aid and it's great. There are times I hear better on the phone than I do face-to-face!
AO/Beck: Mr Crosby, it is an honor to meet you. Thank you so much for sharing a little of your time with me. And thanks for all you've done to help promote better hearing.
Crosby: You're welcome, it's been fun for me too.
Starkey Hearing Foundation's Great American Awards Gala
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