Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Calling Talk Shows

So pretty soon after getting to know me you will know that I am a card-carrying member of my local NPR station (KUER 90.1FM). When I first started listening about 3 years ago, I felt a compulsion to call in to any given show almost constantly. This is how I was cured …

Whilst doing errands one fine day, I felt the compulsion to call in to Talk of the Nation (TOTN); daily topic: Gambling and the Gaming Industry. What do I know about the gaming industry? Nothing… But I had recently been on a design “field trip” to Las Vegas as professional/working alum traveling with my alma mater’s interior design majors. So naturally I was now an expert on the topic.

I quickly grabbed my cell phone and speed dialed TOTN. It was busy, but I am never defeated until the show actually ends. So I hit redial and got through! A very nice producer welcomed me and asked me if I was on a cell phone and would I mind pulling over (NPR producers…so thoughtful, so caring…). She asked me what my question or comment was about and then asked me to wait. So I waited with my hand on the volume knob wanting to avoid that awkward moment where the host has to ask you to turn your volume down. (I think the people who keep their volume up just want to hear the sound of their own voices on the radio…pfff…amateurs.)

I had a scathing comment about the ruthless, and unconscionable practices designers use to trick and fool people in casino design. How dark and sinister the manipulations; cloaked in lights, mirrors, and fiberglass! I was set to expose one of the most sought after (and wealthiest) casino designers, Paul Steele, as a ruthless and heartless thug. How he had laughed as he told us about three Native American women who had sat outside the construction zone of one of his newest casinos chanting prayers as the workers cut away their sacred mountain. I felt like a field reporter fresh from the trenches with an inside scoop.

Then Neal Conan spoke: “Let’s go to Carrie Ann in Salt Lake City, Utah…” (I know I don’t live in Salt Lake City, but who’s ever heard of Provo?) I then realized that with the sound down, I had no idea what they had just been talking about. So I just started in:

“Yeah, hi…thanks for taking my call…

(I tried really hard to sound mature… and then it started to unravel…)

“Yeah, I just went on a field trip…

(now they’ll think I ‘m some kid student)

“but I was a professional…am a professional interior designer…

(wait, they’ll think I’m a decorator)

"… I do commercial design…and we went to a lot of places where they do design…like, professional design firms…

(Did I just say “like” on National Public Radio?)

“And all the stuff they do to the casinos…well, to the people in the casinos, you know, to make them…I mean to trick them and stuff…well, we talked to this designer guy and he told us about it…and it made all of us feel icky…”

(I just said “icky”…)

A pause on the other end…

“Well, Ms. X, how do you want respond to that… because I sure as heckfire don’t know how to…” (I know you were thinking that last part, Neal Conan.)

“As I was saying,” continued Ms. X, “the state gaming board of Missouri recently…”

I didn’t even get a response, Ms X continued to defend her stupid national gambling interests, and it was like I never called.

Thus ended my obsession with calling in to my favorite shows. Every once in a while, my hand will start to reach for the phone during an interesting topic, but now that I’ve erased Talk of the Nation, the Diane Rehm show, and Radio West from my speed dial, the moment passes more quickly. I’ve realized that while listening to NPR can make me smarter, it does not make me an expert on anything, and in reality, nothing so interesting ever happens to me that anyone cares to hear about it over the radio.

Just one piece of parting advice: if you do want to call in to a radio show, make sure you don’t go up against anyone from the gaming commission. You’ll lose every time.

P.S. I literally cringe when I hear callers start off their question or comment with “Long time listener, first time caller…” That is so AM radio….

5 comments:

Kacy said...

Have you called in to other shows before? What did you say? I have never done it because I know I would regret it.

Christian F said...

While not nearly as academic, I called a radio station once because I knew the answer to "My Three Songs". Of course, the DJ started off by saying, "This is an easy one -- I'm sure we'll just need one caller." Who would have thought that I would be the first caller? Not me. Anyway, when the DJ said, "Hi do you have an answer to today's My Three Songs?" I blurted something like, "Blue" which was neither what I intended to say nor the answer to the puzzle. I remember her response, "Uh ... no. Next caller." And that was that.

fattooth said...

The only thing I've ever won off of the radio was "Something About Mary" movie premiere tickets. That began a short-lived love affair with Cameron Diaz. And Ben Stiller.

Kacy said...

I miss your dreams.

heidi said...

I called in once to Talk of the Nation, but hung up as soon as they answered, knowing that I would surely make a fool of myself. I could feel my shaky voice coming on.