Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Suburban Man: Radio Station Phone Home

By Rick Kaempfer

This summer presented me with an interesting challenge I hadn’t yet encountered.

I knew I would have all three boys at home with me, and I knew that I was going to be doing dozens of interviews to promote my book, but I never really considered that I would somehow have to do both of those things at the same time.

I did morning show interviews, midday interviews, afternoon interviews, evening interviews, weekend interviews, taped interviews, live interviews, and out of state interviews; and almost all of them were conducted on the phone.

If any of you have children, you can imagine the difficulties these interviews posed for a father of three boys. When kids see a parent on the phone, something happens to them. They suddenly and inexplicably desperately crave the parent’s attention or they start behaving like wild animals that shouldn’t have been released from their cages.

I have an additional problem.

My four year old son Sean loooooves talking on the phone. When the phone rings he runs to answer it. It’s not uncommon at all for him to pick up a phone in another room in the middle of a conversation and refuse to hang it up. He has no problem talking to complete strangers about topics like Pokemon until I can track him down and take the phone away from him.

So, needless to say, I had to take preventative action. Every time I was about to conduct a telephone interview with a radio station, I gathered up the boys for a family meeting.

“See this red piece of paper?” I asked them.

They all nodded.

I turned the piece of paper around. “See this cartoon legless torso?”

They all nodded.

“What’s that Dad?” Johnny asked.

“That’s somebody who walked into the basement while Dad was in the middle of his radio interview. Does everybody understand?”

They all nodded.

“What do I have in my other hand here, Sean?”


“That’s right. This is every single telephone in the house. I’m bringing them all into the basement with me. If you hear a phone ringing, what do you do?”

“Answer it?” Sean said.

I smiled patiently.

“But the phones will be in the basement,” I pointed out.

He glanced at the cartoon legless torso.

“Don’t answer it?” he tried again.

“Very good. And what will happen if I hear screaming, yelping, thumping, pounding, crying, whining, or loud crashes while I’m on the phone?”

Tommy, the eldest, pointed to the cartoon legless torso again.


I’m sure I’ll feel bad about that some day. But on the other hand, it worked like a charm.

We only had two incidents during all of my interviews, and neither one turned out to be a big deal. Sean opened the basement door right before I went on the air once, but I managed to scream “Look at the red sign on the door” just before I went on the air. Another time I heard a loud crash, followed by an audible “uh oh” while I was on the air, but they wisely took care of whatever it was before I got up there.

Other than that, they were perfect angels.

I can’t say that I was totally able to concentrate during any of the interviews because I was worried that something terrible would happen at any moment, but overall, I think they went pretty well. (You can hear some of the podcasts here).

As far as the boys and I are concerned, this story has a happy ending.

After all, all three of them still have their torsos AND their legs.