Marc Roberge is the frontman for the rock band O.A.R. The New York Times once compared the band to Matchbox Twenty meets Maroon 5 meets UB40. O.A.R’s billboard hits and sellout crowds at venues like Madison Square Garden are impressive, but what’s equally remarkable is that the five-person band that got together in their high school cafeteria is still going strong 25 years later.
Marc Roberge With O.A.R. Bandmates
Like many professional musicians, Roberge has slowly noticed his natural hearing slipping. Earlier this year, he started wearing modern OTC hearing aids. The experience was transformational.
“The lifestyle was obviously going to take a toll,” said Roberge. “My hearing loss started as a joke among friends. Then the joke stopped being funny.” Marc noticed that he was reading lips and missing things when people came up to say hello. Eventually, he reached out to a cousin who is a hearing health provider.
His cousin recommended a new earbud-style Over-The-Counter hearing aid from Jabra. The devices look more like modern headphones than hearing aids, but they have all the high tech needed to boost voices and limit background noise.
“I was like, holy hell. The first couple of days were exposing my joy in the sounds as they existed around me. I could hear what my kids were saying even if they weren’t standing in front of me. Those things were very immediate.”
Like many first-time hearing aid wearers, Roberge wears his new devices situationally.
“I’m not using them around the clock, so it was more about making sure you have them charged and with you when it’s time to use them. For me, it’s all about situational use in public places where I just want to be aware.”
Marc Roberge with Jabra Enhance Plus
Situational hearing aid use is becoming more common among younger hearing aid wearers with mild-moderate hearing loss. Like Roberge, many modern users don’t feel bound to a specific wear schedule and see their hearing aids as a tool to be used when needed.
Jabra Enhance Plus was specifically designed for this kind of situational use with a portable recharge case and earbud-style design.
Roberge talked about his newfound love of podcast listening through his Jabra Enhance Plus devices. The earbuds not only tune the outside world to match his hearing loss but also boost the clarity of streamed voices.
“You can hear clearly, and you’re engaged in the topic, but you’re also engaged in the real world and hearing what’s going on around you. So I would think with the growing number of podcast listeners, and talk radio listeners, I mean it’s a dream.”
I asked Marc if stigma has played a role in his hearing health journey so far. He shared that he was initially reluctant to take a traditional treatment route; the more modern products felt more natural and familiar. He also emphasized the important role that family support played.
“I was ready for it, but I was not actively shopping. I was actively parenting and actively touring and actively just doing other things and the the decline continued.”
“Now there’s no stigma. Let’s make it better. Let’s get involved with the tech and figure it out.
Because if I lose it, that’s life. But, if I can do something about it, let’s go, you know?”
Like any good rocker, Roberge brought the conversation back to guitars.
“It’s like why we give guitars amplifiers. You know, we want people to hear them, like it’s all good!”
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