Friday, August 27, 2010

“The Big One Goes Homespun”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a busy morning at the Clear Channel offices in Independence.

Technicians, staff members, and on-air personalities filled the corridor between studios. At the front desk, a receptionist dutifully answered her phone while sorting listener mail. Sounds of interview conversation and pre-broadcast editing made the walls buzz with energy.

Suddenly, WTAM Program Director Ray Davis appeared from his office.

“Maggie! Where are you?” he exclaimed. Sweat beaded on his tanned forehead.

His secretary peered around the corner from her cubicle. “I’m right here. Why are you shouting?”

“It’s this letter,” he explained. “Come and have a look!”

The secretary wrinkled her nose. “I’m in the middle of a new contract with Mentor Mitsubishi. This has to be faxed today. Don’t you remember?”

Davis rubbed his eyes. “Yes, of course. Never mind…”

Maggie Strehlka turned her desk chair sideways. “What letter are you talking about?”

“It came today from a woman in Geauga County,” he said. “Her name is Carrie Hamglaze. She wants to do a weekend show like Art McKoy or Matt Patrick.”

“Okay,” the secretary smiled. “We get a few dozen of those every week. Lots of people think they want to be a media star.”

“But Hamglaze says she will work for free,” he cheered.

Maggie’s deep, brown eyes widened with amazement.

“Free?” she said.

“Free!” Davis repeated. “She even offers to bring Geauga County maple syrup to the studios.”

“Really?” the secretary mused.

“We’re talking free talent here, plus gratuities!” he proclaimed. “Apparently, Hamglaze is a former schoolteacher, athletic coach, and elected official.”

Maggie tapped her red nails on the desk. “Hmm… sounds interesting.”

“Now, she writes for a local newspaper,” he continued.

The secretary bit her lip. “It could be fun. But she has no professional radio experience?”

“Apparently not,” Davis admitted. “Still… neither did Mike Trivisonno when he started in the business. Let’s give her a call!”

One week later, Carrie Hamglaze made her first on-air appearance at the station.

Student intern Brent Spicko was her engineer. Carefully, he guided her through pre-broadcast preparations.

“Mrs. Hamglaze, we will be on the air in two minutes,” he said. “Do you have all your show materials ready?”

Carrie shrugged her shoulders. “Materials?”

“Your ‘stack of stuff’ as Rush Limbaugh would say,” he explained.

“Oh, yes!” she replied with embarrassment. “I have copies of my newspaper from the past few weeks. And more notes in my purse… along with coupons from Get Go if I need coffee.”

Brent nodded with acceptance. “Think of me as your tour guide through the world of big-time radio. This will be fun. Relax and enjoy yourself.”

“I’m ready!” she exclaimed.

The engineer chuckled softly. “Okay. Here we go. Three… two… one!”

A pre-recorded announcement boomed over her headphones.


Carrie fumbled her opening remarks. “Homespun?”

“Go on,” the engineer whispered. “We are live!”

“Homespun Hamglaze?” she said with disbelief.

“Mr. Davis thought it would be appropriate,” Brent wheezed. “Keep talking!”

“My name is Carrie, and I come from Geauga County,” she squawked.

The engineer was breathless. “Keep going!!”

“Every time I listen to the radio, I think that someone ought to put the spotlight on my neighborhood,” she said. “We hear a lot about LeBron James or the drama of Cleveland politics. But what about people like me?”

Brent nodded again. “That’s better. You’re on a roll!”

“The Big One spends a lot of time talking about baseball, basketball, and football,” Carrie observed. “But I am an award-winning tennis coach. Couldn’t this station spend five minutes talking about our local tennis heroes?”

Suddenly, a voice sounded in the engineer’s headset. It was Ray Davis.

“What is she doing?” he bellowed.

“Learning the craft,” Brent answered honestly.

“It sounds like she’s struggling!” Davis complained. “Our ratings will take a nose dive!”

“Be patient,” the engineer advised. “This is genuine broadcast theater. Let it happen!”

On the air, Carrie was beginning to hit her stride.

“At pancake breakfasts and ice cream socials, I keep hearing the same sentiments,” she reflected. “Not only is our government out of touch, but our media is disconnected, as well. Professional politicians rule the land. And career pundits control the airwaves. We need to hear new voices. Authentic voices speaking about everyday lives…”

Brent Spicko smiled over his console.

“See what I mean?” he declared.

“I’m not so sure…” Davis frowned.

“Give her a chance,” the engineer pleaded. “This lady has the kind of realism we need in this business. It’s lightning in a bottle.”

“Or maybe nitroglycerine,” his boss growled.

On the air, Carrie was taking her first caller.

“Hello, Dick from Dayton,” she sang. “You are live on WTAM eee-leven hundred!”

“Nice job on saying eee-leven like Trivisonno,” he chortled.

“Thanks,” she said. “That was part of my orientation here.”

“So, welcome to the neighborhood!” he laughed. “I call into every program the station offers, eventually. You are a breath of fresh air. Much better than that French guy Simon who used to do weekends.”

“Umm, thanks Dick,” she chirped.

Davis was unconvinced. He paced around the control room. “Hamglaze really sounds like a small-town schoolteacher. In a crowd of guys like Trivisonno, Bob Frantz and Dave Ramos, she will be overwhelmed.”

Brent pointed his index finger in the air. “But don’t you get it, sir? That’s the beauty of having her here. She could end up being bigger than Dorothy Fuldheim!”

A silent moment passed as Carrie continued her show.

“While we’re talking,” she said, “let me tell you about the best 99 cent spaghetti dinner I’ve ever had…”

Finally, Davis relented.

“Okay, I’ll approve another episode of ‘The Homespun Hamglaze Hour’ on our station,” he said. “But only if she brings pancakes with the maple syrup next week!”

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at:


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home