Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Distilled Spirit of Radio or Rush to Judgment

You can hear my interview on internet radio today, I'm glad I can tell you about it,  on my first radio interview to promote my book, I actually did part of it in a broom closet. Rush (the band not the radio host) had a song called "Spirit of Radio." Well, for about twelve minutes I felt that spirit.

My first novel, Rattlesnake Lawyer came out in 2000, and my publisher sprung for an ad in a publication called the Radio and Television Report. I got a phone call from a nationally syndicated show to do an interview during the afternoon rush hour. I thought it would be my big break. The host was someone who you would have heard of at the time.

At that moment, I was a staff writer on a TV show, Arrest and Trial. My position on the show was precarious to say the least. The ratings on the show were down, budgets were being cut, and every Friday, someone would get fired. It was like the Celebrity Apprentice, but none of us were famous. I have been a public defender --overextended and underpaid-- and this was the show biz equivalent of being a public defender. We weren't allowed to talk about the show on air without permission, and certainly not allowed to do radio interviews, even if it was about our own books.

We were in a converted warehouse off Santa Monica Boulevard. It wasn't Hollywood, it was Hollywood Adjacent. I shared the empty space at the bottom of stairwell with another writer and a Polish intern. I was at my desk, cranking on a script, when the host called. I was now live with thousands of people. I heard footsteps down the stairs so I hurried over to the closet and started answering questions about the writing process. The only awkward moment came when the host said "Mr. Miller is a writer on a TV show, but we can't say its name."

It made me sound like an outlaw. Hell, I was an outlaw. 

Other than that, the interview went surprisingly well. I felt like I was broadcasting from the front lines as I whispered into my phone. It was exhilarating. The interviewer was not as famous as Rush Limbaugh, or even the band Rush, but I felt I had gone national for twelve minutes.

I don't think my producers heard me or ever found out. This was before the advent of, so it didn't really lead to a rush of sales. Still, I felt I had got myself on the map. I was on for three segments, maybe twelve minutes total. And then suddenly, I was off the air and sitting alone in a closet. I went back to the stairwell and started cranking on my script for the week.

Perhaps there was a curse-- the radio host was taken off the air a few weeks later. Our own show was canceled as well. The spirit of radio within me was dead.

Today at 2PM on, that spirit of radio comes back.

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