ALS is taking this legendary Virginia radio DJ's voice, but it's not taking his story

Francis Wood
Posted at 3:49 PM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-12 13:44:21-04

BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. — Francis Wood thrives in peace and quiet, alone in his thoughts. The author’s log cabin deep in the woods of Buckingham County could be considered a writer’s paradise.

“I’ve never been afraid of being alone,” Wood said.

No laptop here, Wood goes old school with just pen to paper.

”I’ve loved stories all my life,” he said.

The author has penned 47 books.

He uses the written word as his voice.

A voice that has been growing weaker by the month.


For a year and a half, Wood's voice was wavering and his legs were giving out.

“It took a few months to figure out,” he said.

In February of this year, tests revealed the worst.

ALS. There is no known cure for ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

"I’ve never been sick one day in my life," Wood said. “This is a bad disease. It takes everything from you."

In the cruelest of ironies, it was Wood's voice that defined his profession.


“We covered everything. Our radio station covered everything. We took great pride in that,” Wood said.

The DJ’s velvet pipes entertained and informed central Virginia on WFLO.

His career started when he was just 17 years old.

”I liked everything. I enjoyed it all,” he said.

Growing up, the shy boy thought about archaeology. But on-air, Wood started digging music much more.

“It helped bring me out,” he said. “Radio stations are like the dairy farm. You can’t leave it.”

On New Year’s Eve 2021, an emotional Francis signed off from the airwaves for good after 52 years.

“Oh yeah. It was there were many tears,” he said.


He and his wife Chris, who he met at WFLO, were making their retirement plans but the disease derailed them.

“Watching him behind the mic was like magic,” said Chris. “The storms are swirling around us. But we’re in it together and we stay together.”

ALS may have robbed him of so much, but the illness has not stopped Francis Wood from pursuing his other passion.

“What I have now is a freedom interrupted,” he said. “I write these books so people hear me tell the story.”

The author is working on his 48th self-published title.

“It is refreshing for me just to type these words that he has written,” said Chris.


Chris Wood transcribes Francis’s manuscripts. The task brings husband and wife closer.

“I know one day this will be a legacy he will leave to his readers and his family to the world I hope,” said Chris.

She admits ALS tries the soul.

“There are some days I walk out of this house and I scream. Not to be a drama queen but that is what I do and after that I’m okay. Until the next time I want to scream,” Chris said.

Still, she marvels at her husband's will to live.

“I look at him every morning in those big blue eyes of his and I think I’m such a lucky woman,” said Chris.

Francis doesn’t dwell on what might be. He lives in the moment.


“Be positive as you can be. Don’t take it personal. There is nothing personal about it,” he said.

The former DJ may have unplugged from the airwaves. But these days he is reaching his audience using a different medium.

“I may do 51 because I want people to say he did over 50 books,” he said with a chuckle.

Francis Wood draws on life’s experiences while penning his novels.

”I’ll go as far as I can,” he said.

But this author is not ready to write his final chapter just yet.

”I’m very lucky. I feel that I’ve been blessed in many ways,” said Francis. ”Lots. Lots of joy.”

Francis Wood
Francis Wood (left) and Greg McQuade

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