Nick Digilio returned to his WGN AM 720 overnight show Monday, attributing his monthlong absence to a stomach ailment worsened by alcohol and vowing: “I’m not gonna have a drink ever again.”
In an emotional broadcast his first night back on the Tribune Media news/talk station since mid-June, Digilio said the effects of drinking without eating landed him in Swedish Covenant Hospital for five days and prompted a reassessment of his life.
“I blame nobody but myself for this,” he told listeners. “It was stupid and irresponsible of me. I have been a drinker for a long time. The tone of the show, if you’ve listened on a regular basis, goes back to booze a lot and my enjoyment of it. Well, I’m never drinking again. It’s done. June 11, 2015, is the last drink that I will ever have.”
Digilio, who turned 50 on July 6 (“I did it from a couch and a bed,” he recalled, “that’s how I celebrated my 50th birthday”), said he had never been under the influence while on the air, but often would drink too much after his show.
“In late May I got a stomach thing. I have no idea what it was. I’m not going to get into details of the symptoms, but it was just not good. My stomach was messed up and it caused me to not eat. And I had some other stomach issues. It wasn’t good,” he said.
“Those of you who listen to this show on a regular basis know that I enjoy adult beverages on a regular basis. The main problem was that I was on an empty stomach. I wasn’t eating because of the stomach thing, and yet I was continuing to imbibe. . . . It was a stupid thing. It was my own fault. I should not have done what I did.
“I wasn’t eating. I was depressed because of my ailment, my stomach thing. I had no appetite. So I was depressed and I would get home from work in the morning and I would have drinks. Sometimes a few too many. This was not good. . . . At one point I didn’t eat for seven days straight. Then it sort of hit me.”
As a result of his ordeal, Digilio said he was dropping “Drunks in the News,” a long-running weekly feature on his show. “I’m done with that. It took this for me to realize that I may have over the years offended people because of that segment, taking it too lightly. There were a lot of people who we probably read the stories about and laughed our asses off about who were in trouble, who needed help.”
Telling listeners he was “unbelievably thankful to be back,” Digilio said: “I can’t tell you how much I missed this.”
Before taking calls from an outpouring of supportive fans, he said: “I am back on my feet. I’m not completely 100 percent yet. But I’m back here, and I plan on staying here. I wanted to be as honest with you guys as possible about what happened. . . . It was stupid, it was irresponsible, and I am never, ever going to let that happen again.”