Before I had finished writing All in My Head, I was a studio guest for a one-hour segment with well known WBZ Talk Show host Dan Rea on his Nightside program. I had called into his show on New Years Eve when he was asking people to tell him their goals for the year ahead. I told him mine was to write a book, and then filled him in on my brain tumor story. “Well, Marie from Scituate, that’s a good goal,” he said. “And I’m making a promise here tonight that if you finish that book, I’ll have you and your doctor as guests on my show.”
He probably figured I would never actually do it, but just before the book was ready to be published (and still had a different title) I called to remind him of his on-air promise. “Oh yeah, he said. “I remember you. I’ll have you on the show but you have to bring your Dana-Farber doctor with you.”
It was pretty obvious that Dan was interested in talking to an expert on brain cancer, not to an unknown first-time author who might or might not publish a book, but, shameless as I am, I agreed to the package deal and confirmed the date with Dr. Norden, who seemed psyched to come with me.
My husband Al and I arrived at the isolated looking building in Allston that houses the WBZ headquarters around 8:30 p.m.— 30 minutes before air time. My nephew Mark brought his camera, and Dr. Norden arrived minutes after I did. It was so good to see him open the glass door and catch sight of us. He is one of those rare people who make me feel like all’s well with the world even when it isn’t.
We were told to wait in a holding area until Dan was ready for our segment. We were the only people there except a cleaning man and a receptionist who said she had worked for the station for 30 years. At about two minutes before 9:00, a flustered looking man with a thick mane of white hair rushed into the room. I recognized Dan Rea from his TV ads for replacement windows. He told us he had gotten delayed by a caller on his first segment who wouldn’t stop talking and he was clearly aggravated.
“Come on people,” he said. “I’m sorry about this, but you’re going to have to follow me quickly.” With that, this 68-year-old man who had recently lost 30 pounds on a widely televised diet, took off down the hall at full speed. Dr. Norden, who is thin and in his thirties, sprinted behind Dan, as did my nephew, equally fit and in his twenties, and I, the overweight cancer survivor in her sixties, straggled behind them, wheezing and puffing on my red albuterol inhaler trying to catch up. So if I sound out of breath in the beginning of this radio spot, you’ll know why.
My biggest fear was that none of the Nightside listeners would be interested enough in my story to call in to the program to talk with us. So, to be on the safe side, I arranged for about five or six friends to call the show and pretend they didn’t know me. Unfortunately, none of them were very good actors and it was obvious they knew too much about me and were way over-the-top interested in my upcoming book. When we went off the air for a commercial break, Dan took off his headset and said, “So Marie from Scituate, how many of these callers do you actually not know?”
I could feel the heat rise in my cheeks. “Oh it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I was just hoping the woman from Atlanta, Georgia was actually listening to our show.”
“Oh she was,” I said. “But I did kind of ask her to.”
(Please excuse my frequent bouts of foolish laughter. Must avoid doing that when I get on Ellen.)
WARNING: One of the objects in the photo at right may appear larger than she actually is.