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Broadcaster Back From the Bottom

October 21, 1990|MIKE PENNER

Stranger yet, he fell in love. During the recovery program, Elder met Linda Lawless, who'd fought a similar battle 10 years earlier. She became a one-person support group for Elder and when he left Cornerstone, she also provided him a home.

They are engaged to be married next month.

"It took somebody like that to turn me around," Elder says. "It was like, 'Somebody likes me.' She put all that time in, she stood by me. When people say, 'He'll go back, I know him too well,' she's the one who tells me, 'If you can do it now, you can continue to do it.' "

Elder says he has been sober for 13 months. He's telling his story now because at Cornerstone, "they tell you to wait a year. Most people fail within the first year."

He has other stories to tell, which he does every weekday morning at KEZY. Elder has been back at the station for three months, serving as sports director. He does three daily segments for KEZY, four for sister station KORG, chips in with five-minute spots at KCAL in San Bernardino and hosts a national football cable TV show, which is syndicated weekly in 25 markets.

His life appears reassembled, yet Elder still feels claustrophobic. He talks of cynics and doubters, waiting on the sideline to swoop at the first misstep.

"Some people think it's phony," Elder says. "People think it's an act--'You're just the same, this is just a new way to get what you want.' If they want to think that, fine.

"I spent five months living in a room with eight other guys. I've been as low as you can get. Not showering for a week. Not eating. Stealing. Lying.

"People think I want to get back into that life? I've been up and I've been down and I can tell you: Up's a hell of a lot nicer than down."

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