Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pledge Knight

Our local chapter of Mystery Writers of America volunteered to staff the phone banks for San Jose public television station KTEH during their “mystery night,” which featured two different dramatizations of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple tale, The Body in the Library.

I joined the fun and it was definitely a learning experience. Just as Good Night and Good Luck suggests, TV studios are cramped (and cold) places and only the parts that actually appear on camera are dolled up to look presentable. The rest of the space is filled with scuffed linoleum, studio lights, bits of hanging cloth and large quantities of gaffer tape.

Fielding the pledge calls was educational, too. I think I handled about a dozen during the four pledge breaks I participated in, and probably chalked up something like $500 in total pledges for the station. I also chalked up a complaint call or two. The most entertaining one was the guy who called in to complain that the pledge break was too long, told me he was canceling his membership and hung up before telling me what name his (putative) membership was under. He had a cough and his speech was quite slurred, so I think he’d been hitting Miss Marple’s port or some of that ineffective, but inebriating, OTC cough medicine.

The other bit of learning I did was how not to handle oneself on camera. As this clip shows, I provided the home viewing audience with a great shot of the top of my head while the KTEH host talked about me and my book Vulture Capital. But, hey, at least I made sure I had that credit card number copied down correctly. (Thanks to fellow author Ronald Cree for providing the clip.)

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