Steffan Tubbs, a documentary filmmaker and longtime Denver radio star who has helmed the afternoon-drive slot for KNUS radio since 2018, was hospitalized for COVID-19 on May 27.
On May 31, communicating by text (talking for extended stretches is difficult for him), Tubbs offered the most detailed account to date of his condition, his prognosis and the response of his listeners. There have been plenty of sincere wishes for a speedy recovery, as well as some nasty trolling by individuals who have lumped Tubbs in with those KNUS hosts who've denigrated safety orders related to the novel coronavirus and believe he's getting his comeuppance — even though the positions he's espoused during broadcasts have been very different.
"I CANNOT make this CLEAR ENOUGH," Tubbs maintains. "The mantra of my program for more than fifteen months: COVID is NOT a hoax. We've taken it seriously. I was ripped early on for telling people to wear masks. I attended 75 percent of Polis COVID pressers last year. I only mocked the fighting over TP and clearing of store shelves in the March 2020 panic."
He adds: "I'm labeled by NON-LISTENERS (who haven't ever bothered to actually tune in since February 2018) because of station perception."
Tubbs illustrates this point by forwarding what he refers to as some of his "favorite" reactions since the news of his diagnosis broke. They include "Fingers crossed COVID wins this one!," "Hey asshole: Did you want to back the 'dismissed' COVID line...or does it just sound better?," "Imagine the pathetic life...thanking God!! as Steffan is hospitalized," and "That's what happens when you rub shoulders with Nazis. Thank you, God!"
Tubbs doesn't know where or how he caught COVID-19; he'd recently attended a child's
graduation. He says he started feeling sick during a recent morning, and by the time he was tested that morning, "I just knew this was likely COVID."
He confirms that "I was not vaccinated at time of diagnosis and I owe no one an explanation of why." However, he stresses, "I've never told people to vax or not to."
The illness was at its most serious during the first three-plus days of his hospitalization. But as of May 31, he reports, "I'm now off O2 and that's great."
Nonetheless, his release isn't imminent. "Hope to get out this week," he shares. And while he's feeling much better, he adds that members of his medical team "say I've got a long recovery road ahead."
Among Tubbs's passions is a veneration for the U.S. military, as evidenced by his 2018 film 25 Steps, about the reunion of aging veterans at a Highlands Ranch senior center. As a result, he notes that it was difficult for him "being here this Memorial Day weekend, as it is one of the most important to be in news/talk. Had to cancel three events and I feel I've let folks down. We'll hold a special post-Memorial Day program when I return and next year want to travel to as many events as possible."
The timing of his return to KNUS is uncertain. "I hope to be back on air in a couple of weeks," Tubbs says, "but that depends on doctors' orders and [station] protocol.... I really miss the program and the listeners (most, LOL)."
In the meantime, Tubbs emphasizes, "I have so much compassion for those still sick or recovering. My heart breaks for those who have died and for their families.... To our doctors and nurses, I am forever grateful."
One more thing: Tubbs texts that "anyone joking about COVID — conservative, liberal, whomever — should be embarrassed."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.