VERMILLION, S.D. | For the past 10 years, Professor Michael Myers has been channeling his fighting spirit into his weekly radio program, which focuses on the tough issues facing senior citizens.
The University of South Dakota law professor addresses such topics as Medicare, Social Security and finances during his show, "Elderlaw Forum."
Myers recorded his 500th show in late September.
"I've always enjoyed providing a service and confronting or challenging the system, and I like the idea of advocating for seniors," he said.
The show airs at 7 a.m. Sundays on radio station WNAX-AM and reaches portions of Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota.
The radio program is an extension of the University of South Dakota School of Law's free Senior Legal Helpline, which Myers runs. People can call the helpline with questions and to discuss issues of importance to those 55 and older.
"Professor Myers can tell people where to get help because sometimes the legal and health care systems can be very overwhelming. People don’t know where to start,” said Tamara Nash, Myers’ research assistant.
One of Myers' recent episodes focused on how Medicare could be affected by this year’s general election.
His guest, Elizabeth Smith, a political science professor at the university, had appeared on the show before. She said recording a show with him is always a “wild ride.”
“He is a spirited, challenging conversationalist. He never accepts what I say at face value and asks a lot of questions. He is that rare person who engages questions deeply and keeps everyone thinking,” she said.
Calls from the helpline sometimes end up being featured on the show.
In August 2011, a call came across from Rose Wainscoat, of Viborg, S.D. Her husband, James Wainscoat, had been locked up in a California jail, charged with felony kidnapping and burglary.
The ordeal started when James Wainscoat traveled to Montana after losing contact with his 92-year-old mother, who had gone there to visit one of his sisters.
“When she dropped off the map, we knew something was wrong. We found her in a lock-down facility. She said she wanted to leave Montana and live with my sister in California,” James Wainscoat said.
His mother had been wrongfully diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and his sister in Montana had won power of attorney, which allowed her to place her mother in the facility, he said.
When James Wainscoat took his mother to California, he was slapped with the charges and spent the next 10 months preparing for his May 2012 trial.
After receiving the helpline call, Myers brought Wainscoat’s lawyer on the show and covered the trial, Wainscoat said.
"Myers stayed right with it, getting word out through his radio program. A lot of people began to call my family and show support, starting up a defense fund,” he said.
Wainscoat was cleared of the charges and appeared on Myers' program afterward.
“He (Myers) has a heart for the elderly. If it wasn’t for people like Professor Myers, who went above and beyond, I don’t know where I would be,” he said.
Myers said he had found the trial both bizarre and fascinating.
“It is incredibly gratifying to be able to continue to use my experience to help people like Jim. It's probably why I continue to do this,” he said.