You CAN interview anyone…and not get fired!

My birthday, November 4th. Same birthday as the late, great Walter Cronkite. While working middays at KOZZ-FM, Reno, I was brainstorming on how to give my show some pizzazz and enjoy my birthday at the same time. I thought, why not call on some others that share my birthday? My hero, the Communication King himself, Walter Cronkite had retired years before and I knew he was at least 80 years old. Why not try to find him and wish him a Happy Birthday? Any other day I would have thought “Fat Chance”, but let’s start with CBS in New York.

I called information, got the number, and when the receptionist answered, “CBS, may I help you?”, I replied, “Walter Cronkite please.” I was connected to another line, again asking for Walter Cronkite, and after the third connection, I almost wet my pants when the familiar voice at the other end of the phone said, “Walter Cronkite.” I immediately had to go into “pro mode”, I knew the policy of my company, Lotus Broadcasting and that I needed recorded permission to proceed. I never expected to get this far so my mind went into overdrive, like a ski patroller assessing a skier down, a mountain biker making their way through rough terrain, all the gears kicked in. There is protocol and I am talking to Walter Cronkite. I might add this was before digital recording, press ‘Play/Record’ at the same time on the 4 track- 12 inch reel to reel machine, and don’t let your fingers slip. “Mr. Cronkite, my name is Pam Farris and I am calling you from 105.7FM, Kozz, Reno, Nevada and I request your permission to record you and to play the recording on our frequency today and in the future, as I would like to wish you a Happy Birthday, its mine too.” He replied, “yes, Pam you have my permission.” OK, got by that part, now I am really talking to WALTER freakin’ CRONKITE! He told me we shared a birthday with another great person he looked up to, the late Will Rogers, and that he would be spending the evening quietly with his loving wife Betsy.

It was a short, sweet and memorable interview, and though I managed to press ‘Play/Record’ properly and play it back during my show, I also demagnetized the old tape before having a chance to make a copy. But the memory, the motivation, and still a constant reminder that YOU can make things happen remain. Today in the many facets of broadcasting, the fact remains that many companies do NOT allow “Call Out” phone calls.