Journ391: Radio Project


I tried calling a bunch of different radio stations.  Called 92.9 in the Boston area, and I also tried calling 107.3, which is the WZLX morning talk show. Neither of these stations put me on the air. They took my call to the screening producer, but didn’t put me on air. It was a combination of excuses ranging from ‘you called in at the wrong time,’ to ‘we’re not putting anyone on air at this time.’ They didn’t even stick me on call waiting. I was pretty pissed about that. Also, please note that I avoided calling WMUA because I am heavily involved with the station and thought against it ethically. So I called one more station, which I thought would be a long shot.

For my call-in, I decided to go local (as in my area-code [978].) I simply called and called and eventually got to the screening producer.

I was not able to record a transcript because it was not an option available to me at the time, but I can get the basic dialogue down. I called in to 102.5 WKLB, which is a country music station in the Waltham area. I am pretty familiar with the hosts at the time I called in because I would listen to the station every day on the way to school back in high school.

Anyway, the reason I called in was to respond to a trivia question, it is called the Brain Strain and I did this on Friday, the 3rd because I was up and happened to get in on my first try. JW and Lori (the hosts of the morning show) announce a question every morning at 7:10am, and of course, I was streaming it live over the web, which was somewhat cool.

Anyway, the question was “The average cost of one of these is over $430,000.”

I immediately thought I knew the answer so I called in. I got the screening producer (SP). So here, I go with the best of my recollection:

First, it is important to note that I did not get through until about 7:48ish, and after two phone lines and many, many calls, I am glad that I did.

SP: WKLB 102.5 who is this?

ME: Tyler Manoukian, streaming live from Amherst.

SP: Hi, Tyler, so you think you know the answer?

ME: Yes I do.

The producer then asked me for my age and background. He also told me that if I made it through the screening and onto the air, I could not swear or say anything bad (that was expected.) He asked me for my full name, phone number and social security number, which I felt a little uneasy about giving them, but I suppose that is just so that they are protected in case anything bad happens. The producer told me to answer JW and Lori’s questions and not to stray to far from the point. He went back on hold. Then he came back on the line and said I was going on the air soon.

At that point, I got onto the air (my internet actually cut out at the time, go figure.) Therefore, I could not hear it–anti-climatic.)

After JW repeated the question and made fun of the last caller’s answer and a song played, they brought me over the air and then repeated the question again. Lori said something like we are on the phone with Tyler from Amherst, Tyler what do you think the answer is?

I said: “Is it a house?”

One of them said “that is….wrong, sorry Tyler thanks for calling.”

I  told them how much I loved the show and the music they play.

After that, I got shut off immediately after that, I didn’t even get a chance to say anything else. Fortunately, my dad was listening, and he said I sounded funny on the phone. He also said they made fun of me, played a Keith Urban song and then announced that the answer was “A child (from birth to 21.)”

They only accept a few wrong answers before they find someone with the right answer I guess. Therefore, I did not win or anything like that.

BLOG POST TIME…

So I called in to WKLD, 102.5. I actually called for the heck of it and was not even thinking about the assignment until I got off the air. I did not initially expect to get through, but as mentioned above, I did get through. I thought it was pretty cool, and I even felt special calling in. Kind of like, ‘Yea, I got in! Sucks to be everyone else.” But, it was also very surreal because in all my times calling, I never got in. I got through once before a couple years ago, but only made it to the screening producer. He had said then that I was calling too early (to be the 25th caller.)

It felt good to finally get in after trying so long, and I was the first of any of my friends/family to get into ANY radio station. Adding to my surprise was the traffic. There did not seem to be as much traffic on the phone lines as there usually is on the air. I attribute that to a) it was a Friday and b) that station plays more commercials in an hour than a typical hour-long TV drama. That alone, makes it weird because usually I listen to my IPod now so as to avoid the commercials and all that junk. I guess it was just a freak thing.

As for the other questions, well I clearly did make it past the screen producer. And as racy as this sounds, I think it is because I am white. I have NEVER heard a Latino, Asian or African-American presence on the air before – I guess they are prejudice. That does not surprise me either in this society. The only way ethnicities get through is if the hosts are talking about a class issue or a show is marketed spefically to them. Anyhow, I made it pass the producer and I waited.

Before even talking to the producer, I had been on hold for about 40 minutes. It was incredibly boring to wait that long, I could not leave the phone, I was hot, it was killing my battery and I just got tired all of a sudden. I actually dozed off at one point on the phone. I am glad I woke up though…

After being on hold for the 40 minutes or so, the producer came back on the line, and just like that it was another 12 minutes, I think. Then I got on the air. I was probably on the air for all of 1:30-2:00 minutes. Not that long at all. They put me through and took me off the air faster than a bagboy fills the plastics on a Saturday at the Supermarket.

Now I am assuming, that technically, others did comment on my call because I was answering a trivia question. Not only that, but the hosts were doing the usual laughing at the person who got it wrong. That said, both the audience and future callers reacted and “commented” on my call. The hosts obviously did because they laughed at me. That is ok though, it was fun — definitely a great experience and a fun project.

To tie this up in a pretty little bow, I was shocked, very surprised that I got on the air. It was news to me, I did not expect it and I was not on that long. Kind of a shaky first experience because I did not know what to expect. I did feel that it was a great assignment. It was fun, engaging and somewhat exhilarating. I would gladly do this again (and probably will on my on free time.) That is, until I am stonewalled again and I give up for a year (or more.)

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