ANNOUNCER: Welcome back. If you're just joining us, this is the 67th day of our spring "friembership" drive here at WPDQ public radio – 87.5 on your FM dial – and we have already reached the 19-percent mark on our way to raising $400,000, is that right Jim?
STATION MANAGER: Yeah that's right Steve, thanks to the good listeners out there who have been calling and logging on to our website, publicradioforyou.com, and we want to thank each and every one of them, including Myra from Springfield and Alan from Lewiston. That number again is 1-800-227-3456. Steve?
ANNOUNCER: We also just had a call from Bob in Greenville.
STATION MANAGER: Thanks, Bob!
ANNOUNCER: He didn't pledge any money. Just wanted to know when we were going to bring back "My Word!"
STATION MANAGER: Oh.
ANNOUNCER: But we do have a challenge grant this morning! Phil from Georgetown says he will match pledges from divorce attorneys, up to $1,500.
STATION MANAGER: You heard it, members of the legal profession. We have volunteers standing by to take your call at 1-800-227-3456 so you can pledge your support so we can continue to bring you a wide variety of programs here at WPDQ – programs like "Mountain Rhapsodies," with your host, "Bucktooth" Billy Puckett, featuring three uninterrupted hours of vintage Appalachian pennywhistle and jaw-harp recordings from the Great Depression, each Wednesday night at eight.
ANNOUNCER: We also have some nice thank-you gifts this year, and Marci is here to tell us about those.
MARCI: That's right, Jim. When you pledge at the $25 level you will receive our very handy reusable tote bag, which is made out of 100 percent hemp fiber and has the station logo on the side so you can proudly display your support when you pick up your chard at farmer's market. At the –
ANNOUNCER: I don't know about you, but I can never have enough tote bags.
MARCI: Right you are, Steve! At the $50 level you can choose either the station-logo neti pot made out of used computer motherboards, or the combination baseball cap and spaghetti strainer. At the $75 level we have our hand-crank blood-pressure monitor, and at the $100 level you get a pair of fair-trade Himalayan salt-crystal foot detoxification blocks. . . .
STATION MANAGER: Let me jump in here for a second to mention another challenge grant. Donna from Salem wants to challenge any women who were represented in divorce proceedings by Phil fromGeorgetown and think he did a lousy job to call in, and she will match their pledges up to $3,000.
MARCI: Okay! Last but not least, at the $200 level we will send you official confirmation of your very own carbon-offset abiu tree planted in the Peruvian rainforest by Rainforest Action and Sustainability Now! with the help of indigenous tribesmen who were paid a living wage. I'm getting two.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks, Marci. Later today we'll have a very special on-air interview with Mayor Alvin Gunch of Fairview, who will tell us all about some exciting new plans they have for this year's Rutabaga Festival. That's just one of several pretty significant stories that we'll be putting up today, and we're happy to bring it to you thanks to your pledges at 1-800-277-3456 or www-is-this-pledge-drive-ever-gonna-end. Is this mic still on?
STATION MANAGER: Well, it seems to be our day for challenge grants around here. George from Glen Oak wants to challenge any men who've been . . . uh, how can I clean this up so the FCC won't fine us? Who have gotten a raw deal thanks to Phil from Georgetown and Donna the – I'm quoting here – Donna the Salem Witch, and he's willing to pony up half of everything he has left in his efficiency apartment, which, quote, "isn't much." Ha ha ha!
MARCI: Ha ha ha!
ANNOUNCER: Ha ha ha! If you've never been a member, now is the time for you to go to the phone and join now.
MARCI: That number is 1-800 . . . God, this is like something out of Kafka, isn't it?
ANNOUNCER: I was thinking "No Exit" by Sartre. Coming up in just 20 minutes, news at the top of the hour from National Public Radio. We pay over $75,000 for that show and our marketing folks say it's our most popular feature, but nine out of 10 listeners never cough up so much as a lousy plug nickel to help pay for it. You people make me –
STATION MANAGER: Hey, whaddayaknow! Here's another challenge grant, it's by Donna fromSalem again. She says she'll pledge $10,000 if there are any women out there in the audience who ever saw George from Glen Oak naked and didn't throw up a little in their mouths.
MARCI: We have volunteers pitching in to take your call so you can support public radio, radio without commercial interruption.
ANNOUNCER: Later tonight: a look inside the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee on "Marketplace," brought to you by Monsanto. Monsanto: Growth for a better world.
STATION MANAGER: What's – okay, thanks. Looks like George from Glen Oak has promised to sign over his BMW Z3 roadster to the station if we can find a divorced man whose doesn't have a ragged black hole where his heart used to be.
MARCI: Wow! Now there's a real fan of public radio, isn't that right Steve?
ANNOUNCER: It sure is, Marci. That number to call again, 1-800-dear-God-make-it-stop. That's 1, 800, somebody kill me, please kill me now. And here with the traffic and weather is Kevin.
A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this column originally appeared.