On Monday afternoon, I was invited to tape what was billed as a “Valentine’s Day Segment” for the edgy, new NPR radio show “Fair Game” with host, Faith Salie. I didn’t really have a lot of time to prepare, but I was told that all I had to do was answer some questions about relationships.
Since I’ve been writing about relationships for years and years, and love to be a guest on radio shows, how could I resist?
So, even though it was bitterly cold and I was busy, I paid a visit to the “studio” of Gideon Evans to tape my segment. Before the taping began, I told Gideon that I was aware Fair Game is heavy on political satire and commentary. I’d asked on the phone, but again, I asked if my segment was going to be a serious one, and if not, how did he need me to play it? I asked, because I had a sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t getting the entire story and that’s just the way Fair Game wanted it. Gideon had been a producer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The host, Faith Salie, wasn’t there and wasn’t going to interview me, but she has a thing for erudiate but oddball guests who do not indulge in “everyday” subjects I focus on, mainly life, love and career.
When Gideon assured me that all he wanted was for me to reply to the questions about relationship that he was going to ask, just as I normally would, in a straightforward, professional manner, I agreed to do the show. Actually, I thought his questions were thought-provoking and intelligent, as were my answers. We talked about differences in politics, what advice I might give politicians who want to date, and so forth. Gideon was charming. He said I was, too. The experience was actually, fun.
But it wasn’t so much fun when I listened to the show last night. I didn’t expect my entire interview (about 20 minutes) to be on the air, but what was on the show reminded me of how easily you can be maniupulated by the media. If you listen to Wednesdays show or download the podcast at precisely 22.30 minutes into the 50-minute+ show Black Holes, Neuroscience, and Michael Jackson you will hear a segment tucked into a discourse about the unlikely “love match” between Senator Joe Lieberman and President George W. Bush. In that tiny segment, my voice appears with one sound byte of my serious and sound advice (meant for romantic couples, of course). I am introduced only as “Advice Sister Alison” (hey guys, my legal name is Alison Blackman aka ” Advice Sister Alison” …..couldn’t you have at least used my real name?). I’m quoted as saying that anything couples do behind closed doors is their own business …and there’s something about ritual animal slaughter as well. My advice would have been witty and pithy in a relationship-oriented sense, but to hear it coyly attributed in a discussion about Joe and George, was at the very least, disconcerting. I guess I should look on the bright side. I had fun taping the show and every taping is good experience for the next time. And, at least the producers used one of my quotes (in an obviously innocently-silly context). No politicians, animals or an Advice Sisters were harmed in the process. But still, if I’d just been told the truth in the first place I could have decided not to participate, or to be my own, wacky self, my own way.
As to George and Joe, if you or you staff listened to the show last night, I had NOTHING to do with it (wan smile)