My Debut on Live TV

September 10 2010

... or What do Kitchen Supplies, Mammograms and Snakes have to do with Romantic Suspense?

Early last spring, after a flurry of book signings and appearances for my debut novel, Buried Heart, I contacted a producer of “The Morning Blend,” a Milwaukee talk show that airs live on weekday mornings right after the “NBC Today Show.” In my email I included a brief synopsis and a blurb from the book, and mentioned that I would enjoy talking about it on the show.

The producer responded by saying he’d forward my information to the show’s executive producer.

In mid-August I got a phone message from Kim Buchanan, executive producer of The Morning Blend. She said she’d read my Milwaukee Brewers blog where I had mentioned my occasional lapse into superstition during baseball games and invited me to be a member of a panel discussion on Friday, the thirteenth of August. When I told her I was going to be out of town that day, she said she’d invite me on the show another time to talk about my book. I was flattered and crossed my fingers that Kim would contact me again.

And then she did! I got an email message from her on a Friday, inviting me to come on the show either the following Tuesday or Wednesday.  I responded by saying, YES, I was available either day!

On Monday, when I hadn’t heard which day she wanted me, I assumed she had found others to fill the time. I was mad at myself for not getting the message to her immediately by phone. I debated whether or not to call her and then did. After I got her auto answer, I assumed a wonderful opportunity to plug my book had evaporated into the digital atmosphere. 

While I was still kicking myself (not literally), my phone rang. Katie Pinkowski, producer of The Morning Blend, said she was following up for Kim. Yes, they were expecting me to be on the show on Tuesday, August 24, and would email me the info, including where and when to show up and how the show works.

After the call, I was propelled into outer space (not literally), fidgety with excitement and edging toward pure panic. The information they had sent me was thorough and very helpful, especially the part where I was encouraged to submit questions I hoped they would ask me.

What a great idea!  Asking me the kind of questions about my book that I like to answer just might improve my chances of responding without stammering or going blank! 

By dinnertime my stomach was rumbling like Mount Etna (literally). My heart was beating so fast I could read my pulse without touching my wrist (not literally). How would I manage to show up bright and irresistibly charming if I didn’t get any sleep?

Fearing highway backups, I left the house ridiculously early and arrived more than a half hour ahead of the producer’s suggested time.

Two pleasant female interns met me in the studio lobby and led me down a long hall to the “green room.”  One of the interns gave me directions to the restrooms (always a reassuring piece of knowledge), pointed out the water cooler, and told me I was slotted to be the third guest on the show that day, so I might as well sit down and relax (yeah, right) and watch the show. The show began with the hostesses, Molly and Tiffany, debating when a woman should question her boyfriend about his marriage plans.

Right about then, a naturalist from Schlitz Audubon Nature Center arrived. One of the interns scurried in to ask him if he would show her the snake he’d brought for the show. The guy stood no more than three feet from me, pulled a pillowcase from his backpack, lifted out a skinny, coiled-up, two-foot snake and cupped it, encouraging us to pet him.  The intern did, eagerly. Not wanting to be the wuss in the room, I took the tip of my finger and boldly brushed the skin of the little constrictor. I did not even shiver.  

The next guest to arrive was a physician from Columbia St. Mary’s Van Dyck-Haebler Center for Mammography. His topics, he said, were the importance of annual mammograms and the cutting-edge technology offered at the center.

A regular on the show, Kathy Boelter of Boelter Superstore, arrived last. When she was called to the set first, I glanced over at the other two guests and said, “Nervous?”  They shrugged and shook their heads.

Well, I sure was.

Soon the physician was ushered down the hall to the studio, leaving the snake man and me to watch Kathy, Molly and Tiffany chatting on the TV screen about some nifty kitchen pans and supplies. Then I was summoned.

Down the hall I followed the intern, around a few corners, through a wide double doorway and into a dark room with black walls, lots of electrical cables and huge, looming equipment.  One of the interns reminded me to be silent when the camera lights were on and to step carefully over the cables that meandered across the floor.  A few minutes later a man appeared out of the darkness, asked if I was Anne and attached a microphone to my blouse.

During an ad break, the Boelter Superstore demonstration table was wheeled away, and  the physician tip-toed around the cables and sat on the couch to the left of the two hostesses.  That was what I was supposed to do --- next.

 Can’t say that I can remember much of the doctor’s conversation. In what seemed like three seconds, someone nodded at me and waved me over to the set.

I settled into the couch and introduced myself to Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle. In seconds, their friendly chit-chat magically set me at ease. I saw my face on the monitors, followed by a photo of my book cover. Molly read the blurb I had sent them and made my book sound really great. And then…

Well, I don’t remember what came next, but it all went by quickly. By the time I realized I was enjoying our conversation, my stint had ended, and I was picking my way numbly across the cables again. Just as I got to my car, my husband called my cell phone to tell me I had been “Great!”

Later, watching the show my son recorded on his DVR, I was relieved and exhilarated. Oh, sure, I wished I’d said a few things differently, but overall I was quite pleased. If I get another chance to go on the show, I will know what fun it can be and I won’t be nervous (literally).

You can click here to visit the Morning Blend website and watch the show


P.S. That was my second appearance on an NBC morning show. The first was when I was in college, and Dave Garroway was the host, but that’s another story.