On Friday, January 12, 2006 I was surprised to receive an e-mail asking if I would like to take part in an interview on the Al Rantel show, a conservative talk radio show broadcast on KABC in Los Angeles. The producer who contacted me referenced my Associated Content article “Why Americans Hate Soccer” and it was my understanding that I would be interviewed in conjunction with the announcement that David Beckham had signed with an American soccer team. The topic therefore was to be whether Beckham’s arrival in America heralded a new age for soccer’s popularity in these United States. Not knowing much about Al Rantel, I assumed it would be one of those panel discussion types in which I would be representing the-for lack of a more apt description-anti-soccer stance and there would be another guest representing the pro-soccer take. Imagine my surprise to find I was the only person that Al Rantel would be talking with for twenty minutes or so.
I must admit to being a little nervous. Not so much for myself because-as I suppose might be obvious from my articles-I really don’t care terribly much what people think of me personally, and if I’m confident in anything other than my ability to write it’s my ability to improvise and think on my feet. But I take my role as an Associated Content ambassador seriously. I have been a committed Content Producer since the summer of 2005, consistently increasing my output and in turn being rewarded with more responsibility and more of a role as the “face” of Associated Content, as it were. Therefore, when I accepted the invitation to take part in an interview that existed only because of an article written for this site, I knew that I wasn’t just representing myself; in a way I would be representing the thousands of Associated Content writers. My nervousness, therefore, stemmed from the tiny little nugget of fear that I might embarrass Associated Content and by extension its owners, editors and all the freelance writers without which this site would not exist and without which Time Magazine’s 2006 Persons of the Year would be a little less valid.
It is my hope that certainly by this time next year and if all goes well by this time next month that coast to coast live radio interviews with Associated Content producers about their articles will be so commonplace that none of us will think twice about it. I’m not sure if my interview with Al Rantel rates as the first in which that description is apt, but I do know it’s not a commonplace yet. Therefore, I took it upon myself to treat this completely unexpected invitation as opportunity to expand the base of Associated Content’s readership. I have no demographic figures on Al Rantel’s show; for all I know his is the lowest rated radio program in Los Angeles during that time period. Even so, that would still present an opportunity to bring in new readers.
The staff with whom I dealt from Al Rantel’s show was gracious and professional. I spoke with them twice prior to the interview and from someone who has lived his entire life in the deep south, but has witnessed firsthand the lack of southern graces (both down here and elsewhere, I might add) it is the ultimate compliment from me to say that everyone I came into contact with from Al Rantel’s staff displayed the politeness that I have grown accustomed to. (That isn’t to say there aren’t rude people in the south, but there IS a noticeable difference; I’m sorry.)
I was introduced as Associated Content’s sports columnist, which is of course not now and never was true. But these kinds of mistakes happen all the time and I don’t consider that to be a big gaffe. Hey, at least they got the name Associated Content right, after all. And by the way, Associated Content was mentioned at the both the beginning and the commercial send-off of my two segments. Al Rantel-whose politics I must admit I am in direct opposition to-was gracious enough to allow me to speak without interrupting my thought process and actually listened to what I had to say and respond to points I tried to make. Both during and after the interview, I honestly felt that I had represented Associated Content as best as I possibly could. Looking back on it, there isn’t a word I wouldn’t have said, which is not usually the case with me, I must admit. I often regret saying something or mentioning something, but in this case I felt that I not only came off well personally, but that I represented Associated Content as well as I could have hoped. If any of you actually heard the interview and have a differing opinion, please feel free to let me know. (Okay, okay, I know that I may have offended some NASCAR fans, some soccer fans, natives of Detroit and some Catholics but I assure you any offense you may feel was not malicious on my part, I was just trying to be entertaining.)
I certainly hope that I didn’t offend Associated Content, nor anyone connected to it. As I said, I truly hope that the day is not far off when an Associated Content article not only nets hundreds of coast to coast live radio interviews but appearances on Jon Stewart and David Letterman as well.