Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Talk Show From Hell

Today I am honored to have as a guest blogger Seymour Garte, PhD. Dr. Garte is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences of the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh PA. He is also the author of Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of the Planet.

Last year I had a book published called Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet (this information is important to fully appreciate the story below). One of the book publicity chores of a non-fiction writer, especially if the book covers themes of topical interest (as mine does), is to appear, usually by phone, on talk radio shows. Lots of them.

I did this for about three months, and most of my experiences were great. BUT… every now and then, you get something like this:

HOST: "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show. Bob here with a special guest for this segment. He is Dr. Seymour Garte, a Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health from the School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, and his new book “The Growing Menace of Turtles”, is a great read. Good afternoon Professor."

ME: “Um…”.

HOST: "I find the book fascinating, Professor. Tell us, exactly how did you discover that the growing population of turtles in this country is becoming a threat as you put it “to our lives, our livelihoods and our way of life?”

ME (long pause while I try desperately to think of the least stupid way I can put this.) “Well actually Bob” (not his real name) “the name of my book is ‘Where We Stand’, and it isn’t about turtles at all.”

HOST: (with absolutely no hesitation) “We’ll be right back folks, after this commercial break, don’t go away, because we will be taking your calls to Professor Garte”

HOST (OFFAIR) “Gee Professor, I’m sorry, somebody screwed up. What did you say was the name of your book, oh wait, here it is, yeah we got a sheet, but no actual book. OK look we still have a minute of commercial break, tell me, what’s your book about?

After spending the full minute explaining what all 300 pages of my book is about, we go back on the air, and the interview (about 20 minutes talking about environmental and public health trends) goes fine. Considering that I end up both asking and answering all the questions. Bob does contribute a bit, with a pithy “Ah” or a perceptive “really?”. Nodding of the head doesn’t count in radio.

Another commercial, and then its time to take calls.

HOST: “All right folks, Dr. Garte is here to take your calls and answer any questions you might have about his very interesting book. Well the phones are ringing. Go ahead Janet, you are on with Bob and Dr. Garte”

JANET: “Thank you Bob, love your show. Dr. Garte, what can we do about this turtle invasion? I’m worried for my children."

ME (very long pause, while waiting for Bob to jump in and straighten things out. Finally…)

HOST: “Thanks Janet, good question. Dr, Garte, your reply to Janet’s question about these turtles please?”

ME (another couple of seconds during which feverish brain activity comes up with the brilliant idea of just getting this woman off the line). “Keep them inside ma'am. Especially when a turtle attack is imminent.”

HOST: “Jack you’re on the air.”

JACK: “Dr Garte, I represent the organization ‘Friends of Turtles,’ and I think…

ME (without thinking) “Is this a joke?”

HOST: “Jack, hang on a moment, we need to go to another commercial break. Hold your thought, and well be right back.”

HOST (OFFLINE) “Listen Professor, we really don’t like our guests insulting the callers. Tends to lower the ratings. Why did you say that?”

ME: “Bob, my book has nothing to do with turtles”.

HOST: “We are back on in 5..4.. (ONAIR) “We’re back with Professor Garte from the University of Pittsburgh. We've lost Jack, but we have Stephanie on the line. Go ahead Stephanie, you’re on the air.”

STEPHANIE: “Oh Dr. Garte, I found what you said very interesting. Do you really think that many things in our environment have been improving?”

ME (After saying Thank you God and Stephanie) “Yes I do, for example….”

STEPHANIE: “Because right across the street from my house, they keep spraying the trees, and knocking them down.”

ME “Did you say knocking them down?”

STEPHANIE: “Yes, and the next day they are back up again. It’s the EPA. I can tell from their helmets. Course it says EPA in Russian, you know with those weird letters, but I know who they really are. Course my husband Ted? He says I’m crazy. Hah hah.”

ME: “heh heh.”

HOST: “Thank you Stephanie for that comment. OK folks, our time is up. Thanks for being here Dr. Garte, and remember everybody, Dr. Garte’s book, “The Growing Menace of Turtles” is available at your local bookstore and online.


Dr. Seymour Garte's book, Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet has received excellent reviews from Green Trust, Publisher's Weekly, World Affairs Monthly, and a host of other publications. It's available at Book Stores such as Barnes and Noble, Borders, and at Amazon.com


ML said...

Oh great, now I won't be able to sleep tonight. I'll be too worried about the invading turtle hoards. And here I only had to worry about minor things in my 2 vocations like economic collapse or West Nile Virus. And trees that get knocked down and pop back up overnight. I'm truly paranoid now.

ML said...

What was that noise? Oh god, I think it sounds like a multitude of hesitatingly slow crawling things. There it goes again. No, wait. Yes, I think...no. Yes, definitely something. No, it stopped again. I can see it now. I'll wake up transfixed by this massive wave of mutant turtles and be unable to move faster than a stop motion character where the scene rapidly cuts back and forth.

Anonymous said...

There are only a handful of times I've read something on the Internet that made me laugh so hard that tears sprayed. This is one of them. OMG! Splendid.
I do have one question: What about those turtles, dude? They're everywhere.

Kat Sheridan said...

Great article, professor! I spent a brief gig in broadcasting. I can assure you, your host was likely more horrified than you. After all, you get to leave at the end of 20 minutes. He has to deal with "Stephanie" every day! This same story telling ability is what makes your book so accessible and interesting. And Sia, thanks for hosting a great blog.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Ken, It make me laugh too. Each time I've read it, I laugh.

Kat, what a horrible thing to think about--Stephanie every day. Bet she talks about those trees popping back up daily.

Judi Fennell said...

I want to live in Stephanie's world. LOL.

Wow, makes me NOT want to do radio.

Sy said...

Thanks guys. Of course the story is mostly fictional, but actually the Stephanie (not her real name) part was REAL!! Word for word. Judi, you will love it, and Mike, Mwahahahaha!!!!


Author Ernie Johnson said...

That, as you would say, is one of life's MOST embarassing moments. This article had me laughing. I'm glad it wasn't me.

Ernie - aka Author Ernie Johnson

Netti said...

This was an excellent post, I'm completely cracking up here.

Gina Robinson said...

Oh, Sy, what a horrible experience! Sounds like you handled it very well.

Wanda said...

Sy, I laughed so hard and then felt so sorry for you. After all your hard work writing that 300 page book, using all your talent and knowledge only to have it boiled down to Russian tree surgeons and an overabundance of turtles. But, seriously, what do you think will happen when the turtle population gets out of control? What will they eat? Are we in danger yet? Will turtle soup help? Your thought?? Anything?? Um... thank you, next caller.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Thanks for the laugh!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Wanda, lolol! That was good!

I love reading the comments here. There almost as funny as Sy's story...

Thanks for stopping by, Netti and Nancy. I'm glad you got a laugh out of it. :-)

ML said...

I'm glad I don't have to deal with turtlers or mutant tree people. The worst I have to deal with are people calling because mosquitoes are biting them on the butt through their lawn chair. Yeah, I really enjoy those moments taking away from any research I'm doing.

Pat Bertram said...

I read your book, Dr. Garte, and I am so glad you have a positive outlook about the growing turtle population. Nice to know they are not a menace after all.