Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Talking Head

When I was in high school, I wrote for the school newspaper for a year or so. We did a collection of articles about body piercings becoming increasingly common. Accompanying the articles was a picture of a (male) student's pierced nipple. I believe the caption even identified the nipple as belonging to a male student. However, it was cropped so that it was just a pierced nipple, with no breast or chest hair for context.

Some parents flipped out. One of those parents had a public-access television show which had been called "Politically Incorrect" until Bill Maher decided to name his show that same thing. This parent decided to have some newspaper staff members on his show.

This was my first time being interviewed on television. The argument boiled down to us saying, "It was a dude," and him saying, "But what if it wasn't?!" I never saw the footage, so I don't know how I did, but I do remember that I didn't like it.

Several years later, I was chairman of my university's chapter of College Republicans during a presidential election year. On Election Night, I was scheduled to appear with the chairman of College Democrats to discuss the results. Since we were in the western part of the country and we were going to go on late, the assumption was that we would know the results, but this was the Election of 2000, when it took over a month to find out who won. I liked this experience better, because I was going against another guest instead of the host.

Those are my two "live TV" experiences. As College Republican chairman, I was also interviewed a few times for taped segments, and those are even better, because if you screw up you can just go, "Aaaaaaggggghhhhhh!" and start over and they can't use the footage you ruined. When my wife and I started dating again (the time that led up to us getting married), I took her to a dinner where I was interviewed, which I thought was definitely going to impress her, but it turns out she has no memory of that at all.

A few weeks ago, my school's public affairs office called me up to see if I could do an interview for the local news. All the other economists were incommunicado and the reporter needed someone immediately. I wasn't dressed for it and my hair was a mess, but they wouldn't take no for an answer, so I had to fix my hair in the bathroom and get interviewed about the economic effects of converting one-way streets to two-way streets. The reporter said she'd let me know when it aired, but I haven't heard anything.

Well, I guess now I'm the public affairs lady's go-to guy. A week later, she scheduled me to be interviewed about the effects of online retail on local stores (but the editor didn't greenlight the story, evidently). And now today, during Spring Break (what Gob Bluth calls "the holidays"), I had to do an interview about manufacturers of smart TVs selling viewing histories to advertisers.

"What's the point? Are you just bragging about being on TV?" Since my current contract is year-to-year, part of the reason I have done these interviews is because I have no idea if I'm going to have to find a job in a few months, and I imagine it could be somewhat easier to do if I'm recognizable as "that economist from TV." But the chances of that actually happening are remote. The much-more-likely scenario is that I'm wasting my time on something that no one will ever watch.

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