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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Doctor is out: Sci-Fi Channel destroys my yearly PBS prank

Right now UNC-TV, the public broadcasting network here in North Carolina, is having their annual "Festival" fundraising campaign. This is when they do stuff like run marathon showings of EastEnders, bring "Mama Dip" into the studio for live demonstrations on how to fry chicken and bake biscuits, and interrupt Sesame Street every little while so they can break back to the studio where Muppets are begging for money.

Okay, it's soooo easy to make fun of, but I like PBS. It's something well worth funding. There've been a lot of good programs on it like Voices of North Carolina featuring Popcorn Sutton and other locals. But none of that has stopped me from playing a prank on them every year for the past decade or so...

Here's how it goes: I start off by calling the UNC-TV pledge line, and I try to time it so that they've got the camera running in the studio. That way I've a chance of seeing the look on the face of whichever poor volunteer that I end up calling. And when they pick up it runs something like this:

UNC-TV Volunteer: Hi! Thanks for calling UNC-TV during our annual Festival fundraiser. How can I help you today?

Me: Uhhh yeah hi. I'm calling because I'd like to make a pledge.

UNC-TV Volunteer: That's wonderful! And we thank you so much for taking the time to support our broadcasting sir. We sincerely appreciate your generosity.

Me: Thank you, thank you very much!

UNC-TV Volunteer: And how much would you like to pledge this evening sir?

Me: I want to pledge ten thousand dollars.

UNC-TV Volunteer: (usually looking stunned) Ten thousand?! Sir that's very generous of you!

Me: But there's one condition.

UNC Volunteer: Sir ummm... what?

Me: I'll pledge the ten thousand dollars if PBS brings back Doctor Who.

That's usually where the line goes "click". One time I did catch the young lady who'd answered my call cracking up laughing in the phone bank area.

Well, I had a good run, but it looks like I'll finally be hanging up my annual "I'll give PBS ten thousand dollars if they bring back Doctor Who" gag, because starting this coming month the Sci-Fi Channel really will be bringing the show back to America! So it would make no sense to keep harassing those poor souls at UNC-TV with this prank.

But, I had a lot of fun with it over the years. The very first time I did it after we were married I really gave Lisa a good scare with it when I said "ten thousand dollars". Now it's maybe time to retire it. But it's something that I wanted to make note of here, and sort of "memorialize" it :-)


Luther said...

They have some cool stories today

bmovies said...

Good prank! :-)

But what if one of those ladies said "Good news! This station will be airing Dr. Who in only a couple of months! Now, can I have your name and address, sir?" :-)

Anonymous said...

BTW: did you see this - cause this is getting out of control

Rioters Clash With Police in France Protests