"Do you usually cover your events at night?" sympathizes a PR pundit somewhere to the right of my shaking coffee cup. It's 10:30 a.m., and I'm sagging in the presence of extravagant upholstery at Living Quarters on Colonial. It's not my typical beat, and disinterest is literally falling off of my face. It's just that on this very day, MIX 105.1's morning voices, Scott and Erica, are making that rare public appearance in the name of promotion. Radio people! In the flesh! Clearly, I can't miss that.
Some "Trading Spaces" type of affair is promised as the two radio wits (think Howard Hessman and Loni Anderson, only nothing like that) are set to decorate two separate storefronts for the joy and delight of their loyal masses. One lucky listener will inevitably get to take home a living-room set as arranged by their radio-schtick heroes sometime after voting on the design choices online. "I Will Survive" is blaring overhead. Will I?
"Hi. I'm Billy. I'm here to critique your every move," I leer, encroaching on Erica's space.
Effectively, I'm just in the way. Personalities, publicists and Spanish-speaking manual laborers are milling about the store's winding paths in what feels like a frenetic anthill kickup, while I nervously sidestep in search of some greater meaning. There is none.
Erica decorates with the standard-issue woman-flair of blues and whites. Scott opts for the obnoxious overstatement of red couches and a black-leather shag rug. Various vignettes are played out as time-lapse cameras try to capture faked quirkiness for the web broadcast. Erica's done first. I lean in for the difficult post-interview. I want to go home and cry.
"Was it as easy as you thought it would be?" I clearly don't care.
"With help!" she quips.
Whatever. Further questioning reveals that the duo have been at it for 12 years and the most interesting thing they've done is cover the Olympics in Salt Lake City. Chilly.
"We didn't know that they would be giving us this cool Olympic ski-jacket thing that's got this high-tech warmth stuff in it," she reveals.
Blah. And who's the most interesting person you've ever interviewed?
"Oh, there's so many. It's so hard to pick one," she squawks. "The first time we had Ed McMahon in the studio, I mean, he's sitting next to me. I used to sneak down in the middle of the night to catch snippets of "The Tonight Show!" It's kind of an out-of-body experience to have Ed sitting next to you saying, 'You know you're really good!'"
Great. Do you have limits as to what you can ask people, considering your milquetoast demographic of 30-somethings in decline?
"Sometimes," she sometimes. "We did an interview this morning where we were told, 'Ask no personal questions.' And we couldn't figure out why, because we didn't know enough about this person to know he had any sort of life other than the one we've seen onscreen. We don't know if there's gonna be a story breaking about him in the future ... ."
Who's "he," I grill. No response.
"Well, like when we talked to Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, they said, 'Please don't bring up all of the recent deaths in her family.' But she did! She brought up John."
Oh. So you do sometimes scratch the surface, right?
"Yeah, but we're not mean," she Pollyannas. "At least not until the person's long gone."
At this point we start talking about big old Joe Fatone, unfunnily. I am mean.
"Which by the way, if you break it up, means 'fat one'" she kids.
No kidding. A superfluous discussion follows as I try to get inside her talking head. "Do you have to do a lot of research?"
"Um, yeah, but I wouldn't exactly call it research. I watch a lot of television. I just have to be ready for whatever Scott brings up, because we don't talk. The reason it's so successful is because it started that way. We were finishing each others sentences the first week!"
"The first week!" I overlap.
"We had similar upbringings: I'm an 'only' and he was a 'change-of-life' baby," she drones on.
Whatever that means.
"It's about being able to amuse yourself."
"Well, from the looks of Scott's room, he's probably pretty good at that!" I nuk.
Onto Scott, who's just finishing off his masturbation room and is ripe for my intrusion.
"What's your inspiration?" I cough.
"Early Austin Powers! It's got the bold colors on the yellow wall, the red with the accents, some black bringing in the contrast; every mood, red being 'I'm on fire, let's go do a radio show,' and black being ... "
The pit of hell.
"It shows the ups and downs of life, the flow."
You don't know what your talking about, do you?
"Exactly. It's the things that everybody goes through in life, said in furniture."
Say no more.
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