alert icon Construction + COVID Info

Coming to a Cleveland Clinic location?
Cole Eye entrance closing
Visitation, mask requirements and COVID-19 information

Radio Host Goes in for Vocal Cord Surgery Learns He Needs Heart Surgery

Any Cleveland, Ohio, area sports fan recognizes the distinctive booming voice of Mark “Munch” Bishop, who has regaled radio listeners with opinions and insights on the Browns, Cavs, Guardians and Ohio State Buckeyes for more than 43 years.

A radio personality, who in recent years has plied his trade on Fox Sports 1350 The Gambler and WTAM 1100, Munch has muttered millions of on-the-air words for more than four decades. So, it came as no surprise to him when Cleveland Clinic doctors found a polyp on his vocal cords that would require routine surgery to remove it.

“I started losing my voice, for a day or two every other week or so,” says Munch. “The doc told me, ‘It’s to be expected after 43 years. I’ll remove it (the polyp) and you’ll be back in action in six weeks.”

Radio host Mark Munch Bishop never thought he'd end up needing heart surgery.
Munch has been working in Cleveland sports radio for 43 years. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

What did surprise Munch, and the Cleveland Clinic team conducting preoperative testing, was that his vocal cord polyp was the least of his worries. Based on keen-listening from physician assistant Carol Kelly, who was checking Munch’s heart with a stethoscope, and several subsequent heart tests culminating in a cardiac catheterization procedure, “Lo and behold, my throat surgery turned into open heart surgery.”

According to Nicholas Smedira, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon who would perform Munch’s operation a few days later, the action of the nurse practitioner in detecting something wrong was a stroke of luck for Munch.

Coronary artery disease is common, but the thing that’s interesting is that he had no symptoms,” says Dr. Smedira. “That’s scary because this could have been a situation where he dropped dead from a heart attack one day. To his great good fortune, the cardiac team identified the problem.”

The diagnosis was shocking for Munch, because he typically walked his dog three miles per day and rode a bicycle (or an indoor stationary bike) for several miles every week. “Nothing would have given me an idea something was wrong,” he says.

Mark Munch Bishop during therapy at Fairview Hospital.
Munch's heart diagnosis was shocking since he had no symptoms, exercised regularly and tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

With the polyp surgery postponed indefinitely, Munch had to quickly prepare mentally for a 6-hour, open-heart surgery. It would involve two bypasses for blockages in the main artery leading to his heart, as well as replacements of both the aortic valve and left anterior descending (LAD) artery, the tube that leaves the heart. Finally, Dr. Smedira would have to reconnect his coronary arteries to the new aorta.

Munch didn’t take long to process the sudden turn of events. “Number one, my faith in God is very strong. Number two, I never once was worried about the surgery. When it’s life or death, we’re all blessed that we have the Clinic so close by.”

With the emotional support of his wife, four children and a bevy of friends and fans, Munch was wheeled into the operating room. Any uneasiness he may have had was quelled by Dr. Smedira’s practice of gathering the surgical team around the patient before surgery and having them explain what their role would be.

Mark Munch Bishop and his family.
Munch credits his family's support for helping him throughout his health journey. (Courtesy: Munch Bishop)

Munch was pleased several of them had sports questions for him, too. “They put me at ease,” he says. “At the end of the questions, the doctor said, ‘We’re ready.’ And everyone came by to give me a fist bump. They’re miracle workers.”

When Munch awakened in recovery, the next day, Dr. Smedira was by his side. Naturally, Munch had a question that needed an immediate answer: “Did the Indians (now Guardians) win last night?”

In the days and weeks that followed, Munch, age 69, underwent physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation, first at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital and then at home. He also improved his diet and eased back a bit on his work schedule.

Mark Munch Bishop undergoing rehab after heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic.
After his heart surgery, Munch underwent rehab at Fairview Hospital and then at home. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

Dr. Smedira says the bypasses and new valves should last Munch the rest of his life. His advice for anyone concerned about their heart is to live a healthy lifestyle and regularly undergo examinations from a primary care physician, who can recommend a cardiologist, if necessary.

“I’m doing great, but they did crack my chest open,” observes Munch, who has also decided to give up one of his favorite winter pastimes – shoveling snow. “It still hurts when I cough, laugh or sneeze. So, don’t make me laugh!”

Related Institutes: Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute (Miller Family)
Patient Stories

Patient Stories

Al Grewell with his bandmate Ren.

Musician Lives Without Pancreas, Organ Removed To Treat Pancreatic Cancer

Dec 7, 2022

“It’s a whole new life not having a pancreas. I’m just happy to be here, and I appreciate everything Cleveland Clinic has done for me.”
Read Story
Patient Robert Terry shows off his smile after undergoing kidney transplant

Man Benefits from HIV-Positive to HIV-Positive Kidney Transplant

Dec 1, 2022

“Although you may have HIV, there is still a chance for you. There are options for you. You can still get a kidney. You can still come get back to a normal life.”
Read Story
Brothers Gary and Jeff Foster were diagnose with stage 3 esophageal cancer five years apart.

Brothers Overcome Rare Esophageal Cancer After Being Diagnosed Five Years Apart

Nov 23, 2022

“Pay attention to your body. If you feel like there's something not right, there’s probably something not right.”
Read Story
Back to Top