You've heard of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.
Meet the broadcaster, the headhunter and the sewer fly consulant.
It all started around a century ago, when commercial radio stations went on the air and provided not only a means of entertainment and information dissemination, but gave confused, gobsmacked and otherwise befuddled citizens a reference resource for questions both simple and profound.
Is it going to rain today? Call the radio station.
Who won the game last night? Call the radio station.
Do animals go to heaven when they die? Call the radio station.
My all-time personal favorite "call the radio station" story occurred when I was working at CFTR Toronto in the early 1980's, and a guy called the newsroom and asked me how far Mississauga is above sea level. When I asked him what in the world made him think I would have the answer to that, he replied that he'd just purchased a new barometer, and that the instructions for setting it up said to consult your local radio station to determine your position vis a vis sea level. So even the people who make barometers think radio stations have all the answers.
Well, I haven't worked at a radio station for two-and-a-half months, and people apparently still think I have all the answers. Among the e-mails I received today was one from a guy from the Maritimes who knows I'm from the Maritimes and whose grandfather once told him that when you need help, find a Maritimer, so do I have any advice on where this guy can find a job in Montreal? Hey, if I knew where to find a job in Montreal, I'd apply for it myself. Back of the line. I'm not insensitive to his situation, but I'm now burdened with the responsibility of upholding an entire culture's reputation for kindness and generosity by helping Buddy get off the dole.
That was only the second best e-mail I got today. The best was from another guy who was having problems with sewer flies, and seems to recall hearing on the radio that I had similar problems a few years ago, so could I give him a call? Again, I'm sensitive to the dilemma, but I'm really not comfortable with phoning total strangers for a little sewer fly chin wag. Between Internet resources and professional exterminators, there must surely be a more logical and productive plan of action that e-mailing the local radio doofus.
But you know what? It comes with the territory, and if people send me e-mails that personal in nature, it's because they feel like they know me, and that's the highest compliment anyone can pay a broadcaster - even an unemployed one. So I'm going to e-mail Buddy and try to give him a job lead or two and phone Sewer Fly Guy to tell him how we fixed our problem, right after I ask my wife how we got rid of our sewer flies. Because if there's one person who knows more than the guy on the radio, it's the radio guy's wife.