August 01, 2004

Radio appearance went well..but not great

I just finished my guest spot on John Strauss' "First Day" program on WIBC (AM-1070) in Indianapolis to talk about my Fred LaRue was Deep Throat theory. It lasted only about 5 minutes but we seemed to get a lot out in that short time.

I was a little nervous but I got through it without drawing any blanks, stumbling over my own lips, or letting my voice fall to my usual soft-spoken volume (I feared that John would have to say "Can you speak up a bit?").
All in all, it was a pretty good segment. :)

Stage fright has always been a problem for me. Whenever I used to go out to various "open mike" nights at bars and clubs I would have to be pushed onto the stage. I'd stand there frozen as my name was called. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't see. Once I got started, though, it usually came out all right.
My worst fear always was that I would forget the lyrics and stand there like a dumb-ass going "la la la" through half the song.

One time I was out with my friend Ellen on a karaoke night somewhere and I'd decided to get up and sing a song. I kept shaking and getting a dry mouth everytime I started to go write my name on the list of performers. She kept saying "Either do it or don't do it, it's getting late and we have to go soon."
"I'll do it, I'll do it. Just let me work up the nerve..."

After about two hours of trying to make the move I finally asked Ellen "Would you be mad at me if, after all this time, I chickened out?"
"No," she said, "Does that mean we can go now?"

I'd made the commitment to the radio spot and I wasn't going to back out. I spent the morning sitting by my computer going over my notes and preparing how I wanted to begin. The closer it got to 1:10 - the appearance time - the more I began to shake nervously.
I was drinking Maxwell House instant coffee to get me "up" for the show, and at about 12:30 I began to feel my stomach getting upset. Really upset. I tried to read some of my thesis out loud to prepare my speaking cadence, and I kept running out of breath and faltering because simply speaking was upsetting my stomach even more.

I went into the bathroom and hurled.

After a few minutes I was feeling a bit better. I sat in silence and waited for the phone call from John Strauss, running my presentation through my head and drumming my hands on my knees to release the nervous energy.
I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

1:10 had come and gone and I wondered if my appearance had been postponed or cancelled. I didn't want to check my email as that would tie up the phone line.

Then, at 1:12, the call came. John was upbeat and friendly and told me that we were about a minute away. "Great!" I said, "I'm a little nervous..."
"You're gonna do just fine!" he said, and I immediately began to calm down.

I could hear John talking on the air as he gave an introduction that lasted about a minute, in which time I had settled down dramatically. Once I got started it went fine, just like he said!

Everytime I finish a public speaking/musical performance I just sit and wonder what the hell I was so nervous about.

Christ, I'm an idiot...

UPDATE: I've had a few hours to mull over my on-air performance and have concluded that it wasn't as "fine" as I'd originally hoped.

The first problem is that I was nervous as hell and thought that I'd successfully disguised the shakiness in my voice. I know now that my nervousness must have been carried across the airwaves loud and clear.

The second problem was that John Strauss, unexpectedly, tried to steer the conversation toward the Deep Throat mystery generally, and I then kept trying to steer it back to why Fred LaRue, and no one else, was Deep Throat -- which is what I'd prepared myself all week to do.

For that reason John and his listeners may have thought that the conversation sounded a bit clumbsy. He wanted a leisurely discussion on Deep Throat theory while I had prepared to give a Fred-LaRue-was-Deep-Throat-and-no-one-else-was-so-there(!) presentation.

John, and his audience, probably heard the conversation as being a bit choppy and unfocused. John and I were each trying to pull each other in our own prepared direction.

I very nearly emailed John during the week to ask if we could pre-tape the segment. I didn't because I didn't want to ask too much of his time.
I wish now that I had because I could have given a 20-frickin'-minute monologue on Fred LaRue as Deep Throat.

I made a point of telling him how stagefright I was and I think that maybe he just couldn't believe that someone could be as stagefright as I'd claimed to be.

At one point John asked me a question that, I swear, sounded like "Fred LaRue's passing has eliminated other suspected Deep Throats, right?" (Those aren't John's words, but that's how they sounded...)

I responded that I didn't quite understand the question, and he admitted that he'd been a bit convoluted.
What he meant to ask was something along the lines of: "The death of Deep Throat candidates have, in the past, eliminated them as candidates for Deep Throat".

The question, I know now, was meant to be an invitation to me to talk about the upcoming August 9th 30th anniversary of Nixon's resignation, and that that might be why we haven't heard from Woodward and Bernstein yet.
Due to John's clumbsy wording I completely missed the cue. (Sorry, John!)

He then clarified that the anniversary was coming up, and I was able - in the nick of time - to rescue myself from complete cluelessness.

The segment ended earlier than expected - and just as I'd started to become at ease enough to do a second one. But, John must have instinctively sensed that I was out of my element in public speaking and wanted to let me off the hook.

His closure, and subsequent off-air comment, "You did great!" was -- it's obvious to me now -- his way of telling me "You did yer best, thank you, but ferchrissakes go relax and take a breath now...!"

I'm breathing just fine... now that I'm not on anyone's air-time but my own!

If I'm ever again asked to appear "live" I'll have to remember to insist on a pre-taping.

UPDATE II: I received an email from John which was in response to my request for a tape of the segment, and, also, anything that followed where any callers may have chimed in with their own Deep Throat theories.

He told me that the show wasn't taped, and that no Watergate buffs had called in afterwards, but that some people had told him personally that they found the segment fascinating.

I may have been too hard on myself in that above Update. I remember being careful to segue John's questions into an opportunity to provide more evidence of LaRue=DT. He wrote: "Very good job on the radio... I hope you do some more media. Aug. 9 is a great news hook. You could pitch it that even if the anniversary comes and goes without an announcement from W&B, that's still an important development -- perhaps one more name crossed off the Deep Throat list."

Excellent idea, that! For someone other than moi...!

OK, perhaps my first assessment was more correct -- that it went pretty well, afterall -- and my later second-guessing was fed mainly by my own dearth of self-confidence.
Or, more likely, it's a little from column A and a little from column H. Either way, I seriously doubt that I'll pursue anymore media appearances before the 9th. Unless they can be pre-taped! :P

Posted by Tuning Spork at August 1, 2004 01:49 PM

I've wondered if there even was a Deep Throat or if W & B were just making educated guesses to flush out the actors.

Posted by: Noel at August 2, 2004 07:53 PM

You make a good case and it's cool that he got to see it. I wonder though, if he wouldn't have come clean at this late date if he really was DT. After all DT is a 'good guy' in the W&B story.

The striking thing is how these sorts of crimes were official work-a-day policy in the Clinton White House.

Posted by: Noel at August 2, 2004 08:19 PM

Hey, congratulations! That was very cool. Pity about the tape, though, your loyal readers would have loved to have listened to it.

Posted by: Random Penseur at August 2, 2004 09:37 PM

Yeah, DT was a good guy, but there are a lot of people who went to prison because of the failure of the cover-up, and G Gordon Liddy isn't someone that you want mad at you!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at August 3, 2004 12:33 PM

Way to go! I'm sure your first assessment was closer to reality. Second guessing'll smack ya down every time.

Posted by: Ted at August 3, 2004 06:12 PM

About the public speaking... go to and see if there is a group in your area you can join. That's what they do - work on your public speaking. You learn to do set speeches and impromptu speaking.

Getting over the paralyzing fear of public speaking usually just requires practice. The more you do it, the less panic you feel. The fear may never go away entirely, but practice would make you far less tense. Take a look though and see if it would work for you.

Yes I belong to Toastmasters and yes I'd be nervous as all get out over being on the radio. :-)

Posted by: Teresa at August 4, 2004 09:51 PM

Thank you, Teresa!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at August 6, 2004 12:22 AM
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