Monday, August 04, 2008

Like a Virgin

So, my debut radio appearance is behind me like a distant image in my rear-view mirror.

On Saturday morning, August the Twoth, I was an in-studio guest on the MILES AROUND automotive radio talk program on Portland, Oregon radio station AM 970 (aka The Talker) in order to discuss RED ASPHALT. That's right. I went on a car show to sell a book.

Well, it's a start.

As anyone who has read the off-and-on misadventures of my attempts to sell my book to the general public, you know that this has been an uphill battle, to say the very least. In trying to get myself and my work noticed, I've tried the conventional media outlets without a nibble. It reminds of when I was a dumb kid, trying to fish at the the local watering hole using a stick and string for a fishing pole, a safety pin for a hook...and my bait? Cheese. (Cheedar, of course.) Hey, it worked on the cartoons! So, I haven't gotten much better, let alone grown up. Anyway, after several goose eggs, I tried to think of another outlet I could tap. How about a car show? Why not? After all, the book has a road rage angle. So, I sent out a press release to one Dennis Pittsenbarger, host of MILES AROUND and who I've listened to over the years on the THE RICK EMERSON SHOW. Dennis had at least the decency to write back and for some damn reason, he decided to give me a shot on his show, Not only that, but I was to be an in-studio guest, something I did not expect.

All week, I ran over a bunch of ideas in my head, practicing my interview responses in the car in an almost dead-on recreation of scenes from the book. I was turning into Calvin, my main character, talking to radio host Don Olsen about the wonderfulness of me. But, I also started to actually feel what I interpreted to be a bit scared. For three nights before the show, I didn't sleep much, tossing and turning as if I had been on a week-long coke-jag. Jesus Horatio Christ, could I actually be nervous? How much was really at stake here? Did I think that if I bungled this golden opportunity that I should just crawl into a hole and pull all the dirt with me as my final grave? Did I expect that this was some sort of audition of some sort that, if I aced , would like to a future broadcast career? When I can't sleep, I get pissed off, causing my adrenaline to pump more wake-up juice into my system and postponing slumber almost indefinitely. Sometime Saturday morning, I managed to get a couple of winks before awakening at 6:45 AM, a full fifteen minutes before my alarm. Oy.

Anticipating heavy traffic from the event du jour in downtown Portland (this week, the Red Bull Flugtag. The what? Look it up yourself! Who am I- Gary Google?) I arrived at the AM 970 studio way too freaking early, even before the host of the show, had even shown. Suddenly, he whipped into the parking lot about ten minutes before airtime in a bad ass black Dodge Challenger along with his co-host, the one and only Big Jim. The boys were certainly friendly enough, something I didn't expect from radio guys since my previous encounters with people in this industry has been disappointing to say the least.

I sat in the Art Alexakis Memorial Green Room and jotted down a few notes as MILES AROUND began, scribbling down a few reminders like the traffic school angle, why the book was dedicated to Don and Mike and even an appropriate quote to accentuate the theme of RED ASPHALT. During that first segment, Dennis did a fine job of building me up for the show, mentioning my name and book title several times in his opening salvo. Then, at the first commercial break, their call screener Adam (from the Pimp Squad) told me my time was at hand and led me down the hall to the studio.

Stepping into the air studio where not only MILES AROUND, but THE RICK EMERSON SHOW originates gave me a bit of a extra boost. After all, I had been listening to Emerson's little gabfest in one incarnation or another since I moved to this area in '99. However, I tried to ignore that and focus on the prize. These MILES AROUND boys were amped up on energy drinks and natural exuberance, not to mention they have a few years on me. While I didn't exactly feel like I was thrust into the Thunderdome, I knew I had to keep up with them and get my old tired ass booted out into the street.

The thing was a blur. It went by so goddamn quickly that I was able to give out the most basic information, while engaging in so fast-paced banter and finally plugging RED ASPHALT as much as I possibly could. I do recall standing at the mike, my arms braced on the console and my fingers digging in as I spoke. I probably sounded like I was being strangled. I didn't refer to any of my notes and I should have (including an amusing racing anecdote that would have been perfect for the show), but I gotta say that I think I held my own for my allotted time. The boys helped me along the entire way, making sure I didn't fall entirely on my face. Maybe I stumbled to my knees once or twice, but I made it back to my feet again and felt, most importantly of all, that I didn't embarrass myself . For that alone, I can claim a minor victory. Oh, screw it. How about one in the win column for the kid? Give it up! I shot-I scored! Okay, it was more like sinking a sloppy pool shot into the side pocket.

Only one person I know listened in, those out of the area weren't able to since the live stream was done. His review was that I did okay. I kept up and didn't babble on like a moron. That's good enough for me.

I didn't realize until the next day that what I wasn't nervous after this appearance. I was excited. It's been awhile since I felt this way...and I want more. As far as I'm concerned, this is only the beginning.

Thanks again to the boys at MILES AROUND and particularly, Mr. Dennis Pittsenbarger for taking a chance on me. You're a class act.

Check them out at AM 970 every Saturday morning between 9 and 11 in the Portland area or the MILES AROUND website at

And RED ASPHALT? Try this on for size:

As for the amusing anecdote, you'll just have to tune in next time.

That is called a GUARAN-TEASE.

I'm so media savvy, I scare myself.

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