:: page 41 ::
The radio surprise the day after
My life was about to change. And I wanted to share this milestone with my radio audience. Many had listened to me over the years ever since I came to KSLR from the Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina area in June of 1997 to broadcast my talk show "Take A Stand."
I had never hesitated to mention my single status on the microphone in the course of natural conversation about relationships or marriage. That had led to plenty of blind dates not to mention the prayers from happily married Christian couples that I would find my wife someday and receive favor from the Lord.
Except for Todd Reid and my family, I had kept my Christmas conversation with Amy and the subsequent ring shopping private, not even mentioning it to my closest friends in San Antonio. I had an idea, a big idea.
The day after I proposed, I thought I would bring Amy on as a surprise guest on my radio show. When I "proposed" the idea to Amy hours after the proposal, she was game.
Every day I send out an e-mail alert to thousands of my listeners, letting them know what guests I plan to interview and what topics I plan to address. Half the fun for me is determining the subject line in my attempt to persuade the most people possible to open my e-mail. Subject lines have varied widely. "Adam debates witch @ 5" or "Wal-Mart pushes gay agenda @ 4:30" or "Newt Gingrich @ 5: This is World War III."
Today, February 15, 2006, was very different indeed. It read, "Biggest McManus Guest Ever @ 5."
Underneath my overview for 5 p.m., I wrote: "I have had the pleasure of interviewing some pretty big names over the years: Dr. James Dobson, Lt. Col. Oliver North, Jay Leno, Governor George W. Bush, Senator John Cornyn, Phyllis Schlafly, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, Bob Barker, Satanic High Priest Michael Aquino, Judge Roy Moore, John Stossel, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, Don Wildmon, Sean Hannity, David Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Bill Gaither just to name a few. This afternoon, I'll be featuring the biggest McManus guest EVER! Tune in to discover who it is."
Plus, throughout my first two hours, as always, I was forecasting what I was going to address throughout the remainder of the show as I came into each segment from the commercial break.
"Don't forget. The big mystery guest is coming up at 5."
Baron Wiley, the Operations Director, came into the studio during one of my breaks.
"Alright Adam, who is it?"
"I'm sworn to secrecy." I said with a smile. "I can't tell you."
"You're kidding, right?"
"Nope. I can't tell you. You'll have to trust me on this one."
"Okaaay," said Baron, not sounding convinced.
Around 4:45, the back door light flashed in the studio. It was Amy.
Greg Carnes was call screening that day. Dressed casually in a T-shirt and shorts, he was sporting his trademark baseball cap, goatee and two silver hoop earrings in his left ear. He answered the door, wondering why my ex-girlfriend of nearly two years ago who lived in Houston, is walking through the door.
I had told her not to reveal a thing.
"Hey Amy," he said with a look of confusion. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I'm just sitting in on part of Adam's show today," she offered as if she was planning to be just an observer, not a participant. That wasn't anything out of the ordinary. When Amy and I had dated, she would occasionally sit in on part of a show if she had time off from work. And other KSLR listeners would often ask if they could watch the show "behind the scenes" as it were.
"Yeah, Adam's been pushing that he's got his biggest guest ever."
She came into my studio, picked up the headphones and listened to me as I interviewed my 4:30 guest by phone, taking calls throughout.
Salem Radio Network News played at the top of the hour, followed by Family News in Focus, a commercial and my intro. This was it.
"Alright Adam, where is this big guest?" Greg asked in frustration in my headphones for only me to hear. "Did you pre-tape something? Who is it already?"
"Just listen," I said, refusing to give an inch.
"Well, I've been telling you that I'm about to interview my biggest guest ever. You might have guessed it was Dick Cheney, coming on to discuss the accidental shooting of his hunting partner right here in South Texas. But you would be wrong. It's Amy Holzer, the love of my life."
Greg Carnes' mouth dropped open. I knew he couldn't believe it.
When Amy had discussed how we would present my proposal the night before, she preferred to blurt out the big news within the first two minutes of the hour and then fill the listeners in on all of the details afterward.
I had the exact opposite gut reaction. Radio is all about telling a story, about grabbing their attention and trying to keep the listener with you -- through as many commercial breaks as possible, I might add. That's the goal of radio.
Good content married to maximum exposure for advertisers means new business for advertisers ensuring that they continue to advertise enabling the radio station to remain profitable and continuing to pay your salary.
So, I wanted people to be kept in suspense, not knowing what might happen next. I wanted to tell the Cliff Note's version of our love story from start to finish, culminating with my proposal the night before. Amy thought that would truly annoy the listeners. I was convinced that they would get caught up in the story.
On this point, I was proved right.
As the listeners experienced the roller coaster of ups and downs emotionally along with us over that hour, they became increasingly invested in the outcome. Some told me later that they thought I might propose right then and there on the radio, in front of 50,000 people.
Ruth Roscoe, one of my long-time friends here in San Antonio, got on the phone to her daughter Glenna and said, "Hurry. Turn on KSLR. Adam McManus is talking with Amy Holzer about their love story."
I received a number of e-mails after the show from listeners who were so excited for us that they were crying over how they saw the hand of God move in our relationship, revealing to each other that we were meant for a lifetime commitment.
But perhaps the most dramatic example of how connected my listeners were was one woman who was driving home from work. She turned KSLR on and was glued to her car seat from the moment she heard the first word. After all, everyone loves a good love story. It was about 5:45 p.m.
She didn't know whether (a) we were going to break up one final time, (b) whether I would propose on the spot (c ) whether I had already proposed or perhaps (d) whether we had eloped and we were about to announce the fact that we had already gotten married.
This listener pushed her automatic garage door opener, pulled her car into the garage, and closed the garage door behind her. Normally, she would turn off the car, get out and either connect with her family to the exclusion of radio or turn on the station in the kitchen as she cooked the evening meal. She did neither.
She stayed in the car, as the engine continued to idle and KSLR Radio continued to blast from her speakers.
Five minutes later, her husband, who wondered what was taking his wife so long to come inside, opened the door to the garage, and saw, much to his horror, that the car was idling while the garage door was closed. He quickly opened the garage door, allowing the dangerous fumes to escape, and rapped his knuckled on the window.
"Hey, what are you doing?" he yelled with alarm.
His wife rolled down the window, without lowering the radio's volume a smidge, and said, "I'm listening to Adam McManus. I think he's about to propose to Amy."
"I don't care what he's about to do," he said, losing his temper. "I was concerned that you were about to kill yourself if you sat in there much longer."
"Oh my," she acknowledged, "I totally forgot that the car was still running. Their love story is so compelling. I want to know what happens next."
"How 'bout if you turn on Adam's show inside, in the safety of our living room?"
"Okay. I'm sorry honey. I didn't mean to scare you."
When I opened up the telephone lines to take calls, not only did her parents call in to wish us well, but so did mine. That part was the surprise to me. I knew that all four would probably be listening on line at http://www.kslr.com, but I hadn't really thought through whether they might actually call in.
Index :: Previous