Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On Call...

...screening, that is.

That's right. Call Screening. So here's how the story goes:

Karl the Call Screener is going on a semi-vacation this week. I say semi because he is still going to be at KTIS, he just picked up someone else's shift...and I think he might be taking Friday off...not really sure what he's doing. But I do know that he's not going to be there, and I know what I'll be doing.

Kelly Lynn asked me to fill in for him.

I am the new Karl the Call Screener. Only I'm Bethany the Call Screener. The plan was for me to shadow yesterday (Tuesday) and then actually start on Thursday.

But did that happen? Of course not. I begin my day (and continue it for the first two hours I am there) by editing, as is my usual gig there. Soon, Kelly Lynn comes in and gives me a rundown of the day, informing me that I will be call screening today, for practice. I tell her I am nervous. She expresses her confidence in me. I tell her that I appreciate that, but am still nervous. But I go back to editing and try not to think too much about it, for fear that I will become even more nervous. Later, Kelly Lynn comes in and asks me to find a couple of songs and make bumpers out of them. I find one song with ease, and have difficulty on the next song. After much looking, I deduce that KTIS does not, in fact, have a CD with the song "He Knows My Name" on it, despite having several CD's from several artists that have recorded that song. Oh well. What can you do? (At some point between Kelly Lynn giving me a rundown of the show and asking me to do the bumpers, she came in and told me a humorous story about her life as of late. She began with "You're a girl. I can tell you this." I put this in here mostly for my own benefit.)

Then the show begins at noon. I sit in the studio with Karl the Call Screener and listen, watch, and learn. He asks if I have any questions about call screening, which I do (how do I set up the phone? how do I put someone on hold? etc etc). We don't get many calls the first hour, and mostly just talk and go on tangents from what the guest, Rob West, says (he was talking about kids and spending their money wisely and mentioned the old "have envelopes for everything" budget, including an envelope for clothes. Karl the Call Screener and I discussed how potentially unwise it is for parents to trust their kids to buy their own clothes because you know that the boy will buy a cape and goggles and the girl will buy one expensive, sparkly dress...okay, so that's a generalization, but you get the idea).

Anyway, the second hour rolls around, and Karl the Call Screener informs me that it is now my turn. My first assignment: call the guest and make sure he is good to go for the next segment. So I call Steve Russo, author of What’s the Deal with Wicca? and Protecting Your Teen from Today's Witchcraft as well as host of a talk show entitled Real Answers. The call is a tad rough, but pretty decent. And Karl the Call Screener says I did a good job. Task one complete.

Next task: wait for the callers. We don't get too many, which is nice for me. Then the first call comes in. I take a deep breath and answer. "Along the Way. Your first name please." Matt from Chanhassen is my first caller ever. Congrats to him. He has a very simple question, so it is an easy first call, which is extremely nice. Congrats to him too because he wins one of Steve's books for being one of the first few callers. Task two complete.

Then I receive another call, this time from Greg. After I ask the general questions and get to his comments, the first thing he says is "I think that Harry Potter is from hell," and the first thing I think is "Oh crap, I'm going to have to screen this guy out." Then he keeps talking a little and asks a very good question about wondering how to get his step-daughter from reading them (this is a bit tricky because, while I say it was a good question, that is, of course, relative. It was a good question to ask, though I'm not sure I agreed with trying to keep your kids from reading things. Aren't those just good opportunities to discuss real issues with them? But that's just one Call Screener's opinion). So I tell him that that was a really good question and that he should ask that, then I put him on hold. Being able to steer people toward good conversation pieces: task three complete.

All was right with the world. I was able to get those few calls up and it, though a little rough, went surprisingly well.

Then, Kim asks a trivia question: What is the one prayer God always answers with a yes? The calls come pouring in. Okay, maybe not. But we do get at least 5 at one time (which is our limit, I think). And, of course, the first call I get is from one of the people on our "look out for these callers" list. I don't know what to do, and slightly panic (my panic consisting of looking at Karl the Call Screener frantically and asking him what to do). So I put her on hold and then go down the list of other callers. They all just want to answer the question, but it is still a challenge to get to all of them, get their names and make sure they are ready to go on air. I eventually go back to Francine* and jot down her question to pass on to Kim. But not before she gets on air during the question asking time, making it awkward because then Kim had to be all "Well, we're not on that right now, but hold on and I'll be happy to talk to you about that after the show." Craaaap. Weeding out the bad callers while dealing with an onslaught of other callers: task four complete, though not necessarily completed well (click the link on the above words "second hour" to hear the second hour of the show and the awkwardness, and to hear the answer to the question because, sorry, but I was a tad preoccupied with my 5 callers to hear the answer myself).

Then, the show is over. Sigh of Relief. I ask Kelly Lynn if that call with Francine was my fault, what with her getting on the air when she wasn't supposed to have been and all. She says it wasn't at all. Bigger Sigh of Relief. Karl the Call Screener assures me that I did a good job, especially for it being my first time being Bethany the Call Screener.

But the daunting task of being Bethany the Call Screener by myself, without any help, still looms before me. God have mercy on my soul, and the soul's of all those calling in.

*name has been changed to protect the identity of the caller

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