January 11, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Usually, when a radio show fails to go on the air due to technical difficulties, those difficulties happen in the studio--sometimes on the phone line.

This morning, they happened on the freeway.

Anyone looking for the podcast of today's interview with Todd Allen Gates is going to have to wait, probably two weeks, although we're still finalizing the arrangements. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that he's willing to return to the show. Anyone less committed to rationality would be considering us cursed by now, since his first time on Atheists Talk was marred by a button in the studio with an indicator light that came on even when the button wasn't fully pressed.

Today's story is a little different. It started out perfectly. I'd just hit Send on an email when the doorbell rang. I had my show notes and hot drink sitting ready and grabbed them as I headed out the door. The streets were a little slushy from last night's snow but not slippery. We got on the freeway and headed for the studio.

We were on an overpass the first time it happened. I didn't even feel it, but Mike said, "Whoa," and the car slowed down. "Maybe the roads are a little icy."

Everything seemed okay after that, and once we were off the overpass, Mike slowly went back up to speed. We were good for another mile or so.

I felt it the second time the car jerked, and the third and.... I could see the wheel twisting in Mike's hands. We pulled over to the side of the road.

"I think it's the tires." Mike opened the door.

"I'll call Ben." I got out my cell phone. "Hi. We're on 35, and the car is doing bad things. Can you get us to the studio?"


Mike stuck his head back in. "The wheel well is packed with ice and snow. I'm going to see if I can clear it."

Ben and I speculated about the various problems it could be if not ice--while Mike was out of earshot, of course. Then Mike got back in the car, started it up, and drove cautiously on the shoulder for a bit. No problem. I let Ben go.

We lasted a few miles the second time. Then the car jerked hard to the right again. Its timing was excellent, as we were going around a curve under an overpass with concrete barriers a couple feet to our right.

Needless to say, we slowed way down again, but there was still far to go until we were out of the construction zone and to someplace with a shoulder again. We didn't hit a barrier. We didn't get hit by a car doing the speed limit. The only thing that took damage was our nerves.

By now, between the stop and the slow periods, we'd already hit the time when we should have been at the station. We had buffer time, yes, but not enough to make it there going 20. Not enough time for any of the backup transportation or hosting plans to work either, not once Mike was willing to take his hands off the wheel long enough to pull out his phone, where people's numbers were.

So we called the Todd, who was wonderful about it (and possibly more rational that we were by then), and called the engineer at the studio, who reran an already recorded show for us. Then we concentrated on figuring out where we could get Mike's car looked at on a Sunday morning.

Final results for the morning? We had disappointed listeners, Mike has a sheared axle boot, and I have a bunch of numbers to add to my cell phone. All in all, it could have been a lot worse.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap. You could have called me! I may have been able to swoop you'all up and get you to the studio. Maybe. Cudda tried, anyway.

(Maybe you figured I was out too far)

It would be a good idea to get everybody hooked up with Skype, yes? Then you'd have a few impromptu studios in spots around the twin cities.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Well, Ben is a little closer, and I knew he was awake. You wouldn't have made it to us (62 and Penn) by the time the show was to start. Besides, are you sure I could have pried you away from your newly upgraded blog?

Skype would be lovely. As far as I'm concerned, any radio show I can do in my bathrobe is a good one. However, the radio station has to be prepared to use it, too. And coordinating timing with the engineer is much easier when I can see him.

Anonymous said...

Right. For some reason I was imagining Ben without a car, I don't know why. So he was walking and i was driving, so I would have beat him (or picked him up on the way).

Every time I drive through that intersection I think "Good thing the car is not breaking down right now, because this would be bad"... That truely is one of the worst places in the upper Midwest for a breakdown at the moment. Of course, Sunday morning is a little better (but remember two sundays ago, did you notice the southbound traffic on 35W when we were all driving up to the museum on Sunday AM? Dead stop.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Yeah, you were definitely in no shape to pick us up. :)

I don't know what was going on two weeks ago, but it was worse last weekend. They had 494 closed to take down the Lyndale bridge. Blech.

Lou FCD said...

Holy Crap! Glad you guys are still in one piece!

Stephanie Zvan said...

Thanks, Lou. Us too.

Bjorn Watland said...

There is nothing stopping anyone from doing a Skype show without the radio station involved. We'd just make a note of it on the website not to stream the show from AM 950.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Bjorn, very true. It just doesn't help us with our commitment to the station.

Kelly McCullough said...

Yowza, that doesn't sound like any fun at all.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Ah, no, not particularly. Speaking of, did we ever remember to tell you about the joy we had coming back from your place last year? Now, that was exciting. Not fun, but exciting.

Kelly McCullough said...

I think so. The icy bits?

Stephanie Zvan said...

That'd be the one.