When I heard that former State Sen. Chip Rogers was to debut his much-anticipated radio show on Georgia Public Broadcasting, I was curious to know about any last-minute details as the program was being readied for the air. So, I called on my columnist commandos and asked them to surreptitiously tape-record the conversations.
Getting in the PBS offices was no challenge for these sleuths. One was disguised as an Andrea Bocelli CD ($50 giving level) and the other as a talking frog ($250 level). They were able to record the final strategy session between Mr. Rogers and his boss, Teya Ryan, president of GPB. Let’s listen together:
Ryan: “Chip, is everything in readiness for your show? We need a home run. Donations to GPB haven’t exactly gone through the roof since it was announced you were coming over here and taxpayers were going to have to shell out $150,000 a year for the privilege. Before we start, why are you dressed as Big Bird?”
Rogers: “Well, I figure it this way: Since another Mr. Rogers was on PBS for so long and wore a cardigan and sneakers, I didn’t want there to be any confusion. So, voila! I’ll dress as Big Bird.”
Ryan: “Chip, you are on the radio. Nobody can see you on radio. Take that silly suit off. And if there is any good news in all of this, I don’t think anybody is about to confuse you with Fred Rogers.”
Rogers: “Maybe so but just to be on the safe side, I am going to employ Soviet-style mind control on my fans. Remember the meeting I hosted on the subject in the Senate just before I got this job? The United Nations had all but annexed Putnam County using mind control and we stopped those suckers cold in their tracks. It was one of my finest moments.”
Ryan: “Please, let’s don’t go there.”
Rogers: “Where? Putnam County?”
Ryan: “No, I mean bringing up the weird stuff you did in the Senate. Like legislation to prevent people from having their body parts microchipped without their permission. Even for a member of the General Assembly, that was goofy.”
Rogers: “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Now that I look back on it, maybe the United Nations was practicing Soviet-style mind control on me and I didn’t realize it. Or maybe it was the American Legislative Exchange Council. I get those two groups confused.”
Ryan: “Chip, I want this program to be about Georgia’s push for more jobs and economic development. Frankly, I am nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers. That’s why I scheduled the show for Thursday nights at 7 p.m. Anyone with half a brain will be watching ‘Wheel of Fortune.’”
Rogers: “Not to worry, boss. I know a lot about jobs and economic development. As a matter of fact, I once owned a motel in Calhoun. Of course, that didn’t turn out very good — at least for the bank that loaned us the money and later tanked. Think listeners would be interested in how you can borrow a lot of money and not pay it back? Fascinating story.”
Ryan: “No! No! No!”
Rogers: “Well, shoot. I guess you probably won’t like me talking about the neat job I had working as a tout for a sports gambling network, either. ‘Will the Winner’ I was known as in those days. I coulda been a star.”
Ryan: “No! No! No!”
Rogers: “Okay, how about this? I’ll talk about the American dream. How a humble guy from Woodstock — that’s me — can booger stuff up and still make more money than the governor of Georgia, thanks to the benevolence and benefice of his fellow citizens. If that isn’t about jobs and economic development, I’m not Big Bird.”
Ryan: “Hmmm. I like it. Let’s go with that. OK, any last questions before we hit the airwaves?”
Rogers: “Just one. Why is there a frog over in the corner holding an Andrea Bocelli CD and laughing his head off?”
RECORDING STOPS SUDDENLY. ...
Reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.