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17 February 2009
Adventures in public radio
operators are standing by

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes...
Well you might find...

You get a penmanship award!


OK, that's not really how the song goes. But it's how my Tuesday night went as I volunteered at local NPR affiliate WAMU.

Diane Rehm embraces her inner squidbilly It was Day 4 of their Winter Membership Campaign. I'd already decided to step up the community outreach efforts this year, so when I got an email soliciting phone volunteers, I thought "why not?" It'd be a great chance to give back to a station I listen to a lot. (Anyone who's had more than five minutes of conversation with me can attest that it's only a matter of time before I break into "This one time...? on NPR...?" in my best Alyson Hannigan voice.) It would also be a great chance to go behind the scenes and see what makes public radio tick. Never mind the fact that my favorite show, starring my boyfriend Ira Glass, is taped halfway across the country at WBEZ in Shytown. And never mind the fact that, honestly, I can't stand the sound of Diane Rehm's voice. She still covers interesting topics on her show, Granny Squidbilly voice notwithstanding. Never mind all that; it'd be an adventure in do-goodery!

Granny Squidbilly embraces her inner Diane Rehm Welllllll, I'm not sure how much good I actually did. After the brief orientation, during which the WAMU staff exhorted us to PRINT NEATLY and mentioned that the person with the best handwriting would get the "Miss Legibility" prize, I sat down expectantly and waited for my phone to ring. It was like high school all over again. I got a total of four calls. One person just wanted to enter the prize drawing without donating anything. How lame is that? One person wanted to set up a "sustaining membership," meaning her card would automatically be charged a certain amount each month, but she wasn't sure she could sustain the minimum monthly amount of $10. That call was a bit of a bummer. However, two people actually pledged some funds. Woo-hoo! That meant I got to carefully fill out the oh-so-exciting Pledge Form (twice!), and then waggle it in the air when I was finished. 

my fabulous certificate, suitable for framingI think I collected a total of $300 for the cause. But it was clearly a matter of quality over quantity, as my stellar penmanship garnered me the legibility prize! This was definitely *not* like high school. They called my name and I rushed to the front of the room to collect my crown and have my picture taken for the Wall of Fame. I couldn't resist a little wrist-wrist-elbow-elbow wave to the crowd. It was exhilarating! Well, OK, not really, but it was the highpoint of an otherwise pretty dull two hours. Don't get me wrong, I had a lovely conversation with the other two volunteers sitting at my table. And WAMU did feed us. But it's not like I got to see any quasi-famous local radio celebrities. We weren't even anywhere near the recording booth. I got to enjoy a bit of my own quasi-celebrity, as other volunteers congratulated me on my hard-fought victory over illegibility. I got to wear the crown for the remaining hour of my shift, received a lovely WAMU mug, and got a certificate. Signed by none other than Diane Rehm, WAMU 88.5 Handwriting Expert! Check it out for yourself. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

No, you can't always get what you want. But, wait, does this mean that somehow the universe is trying to tell me that a Legibility Award is what I need...?

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment
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Re: Adventures in public radio
Diane Rehm *is* Granny Squidbilly!
Posted by sonia on February 19, 2009 at 1:55 PM

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