Yesterday evening, in costume, I drove from Ames to Des Moines, to the Iowa Public Television Studio, to participate in the Festivals telethon. A group from the Des Moines Renaissance Faire had volunteered to answer phones and take pledges from 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm. Another group, whose name I have forgotten, had also volunteered, so we had a mix of people in Renaissance Faire costumes and in regular clothing.
When we walked in, we signed in, and put on our name tags (one for our front, and one for our back). Then, we went around a corner and were in the studio, which resembled an auditorium with seats and a stage. This was the first time I had been in a TV studio, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.
At the back of the studio, they had a table with lots of food set up for the volunteers. They had a couple of different types of pasta, sandwiches, and a shake machine (a huge hit - mmm...). We had a pretty big group of people from DMRF, and it was great to see everyone again. Some people I hadn't seen since September.
A few minutes before we were to take over, we had a brief training session to explain how to fill out the pledge cards, and what to say on the phone. In too short of time, we were moving up to the stage to take our places before the next pledge break. The night's programs were all music themed. As we began, a Ralna English concert was starting. It was followed by Lawrence Welk, with in-studio guests Mary Lou Metzger, and Jack Imel. We finished up with Andre Rieu, who rather unfortunately wasn't in the studio (probably a good thing - too distracting).
We all tried to figure out where to sit, and I ended up dead center in the back row, between Troy, and Rick Flatt. I soon found out that I had ended up at phone #1, the phone that rang first when anyone called. Great.
Pretty soon, we were on the air, and it was too late to escape. The announcers and the guests were right in front of me, and within moments of going on the air, my phone was ringing, and I had to answer. I had my pen ready, and a smile on my face, just in case the camera was on me.
"Thank you for calling. May I take your pledge?"
"Hi! We're Souix City Ren-festers! We can't afford to make a pledge, but when we saw you all, we had to call and say 'Hi!'. It's great that you're doing this!"
It took everything I had in me to not burst out laughing. After a couple more words, and a wave at the camera, my first call was over. A long line of puzzled faces turned to me, and I quietly relayed what had happened. We had a good laugh over that later, once everyone heard the message.
My next call was real, and I spent quite a long time on call after call. Rick wasn't getting any calls at all, so the rest of us put our phones in the off position, and he finally got one. Phone #1 was very busy, and it was quite awhile before I could get a break and get some water. It was hot with the lights on.
When the Lawrence Welk segment was winding down, Mary Lou sang, and I was more than a little disappointed that my phone rang right as she was beginning, and I missed it. she has a beautiful voice. After she was done, the pledge break was over, and I put my phone on hold in order to go get something to drink and eat. The announcers had out their cameras, and posed with Mary Lou and Jack. I was standing off to the side with Wes, waiting for them to finish, when the guy taking the picture waved us over to stand on either side of the group. I wish I could get a copy of that. We watched Lawrence Welk quite a bit when I was a little girl.
After that, we had a break for a bit, and I decided that I just could not sit at phone #1 again. I was exhausted and getting dehydrated (I missed the first break we had, because I was still answering the phone). When we went back, I sat to the left of the row for the rest of the night. Alan, aka Captain JP Boyd, sat by me for some of the time, and every time the camera was at our side, if he wasn't on the phone, he was being funny in the camera.
The rest of the evening went well. I didn't have a single mean caller, and I enjoyed talking with the people who were calling. I had quite a few people ask which one I was, so I would tell them, and give them a little wave if the camera was on me. One of our cast members had someone ask if she was the one in the funny hat. We were all in hats that could be considered funny, so she just told him what she was wearing.
Eventually, Andre Rieu had finished his concert, and we had our final pledge break. As we said goodbye, it was nice knowing that I will see some of these folks next Saturday, and some in early May. What a fun evening!