Agnew needs to pay rent. Unfortunately, he's a radio journalist. Unemployed and almost entirely inexperienced, Agnew tries to make up for his shortcomings by being as unprincipled and shamelessly click-baiting as possible. Over 8 “radio bulletins” Agnew reports the most off-beat stories he can find and offers misguided self-help to other aspiring journalists.
Everyone's trying to get into radio, but to sell a spot in The Delph, you've got to know what you're doing. I used to intern for the biggest public access station in the city, and I'm going to help you sell your story. All you need to remember is K.A.L.O.L.A.C.W.E.A.V.A.F.N.S.
Know your Assets and Liabilities
I've outlined mine below:
I know the director of the biggest public access station in The Delph.
My name is well known in the field.
My pitch is a follow-up on the most talked about radio bit in years.
Depending on how things play out, these things should help me sell my story. I also have a copy of the keys to my old station’s van, so I borrowed that.
Gill Reeber’s tight schedule — he’s out the door of the station at 5:00 every day.
My overdue rent, which means I won’t be able to sit on this one.
Everything listed under Assets, depending on how things play out.
All of these fucking red lights. I mean, seriously.
I've got some unique forces working for and against me. But to be a successful radio journalist, you've got to:
Overcome Your Liabilities With Your Assets
I'm on a tight schedule and am getting clowned by a bunch of traffic lights (liability). However, I'm also in a car which is under someone else's name (asset).
I check for cops and floor it through the intersection. A camera flashes behind me and some jerks honk at me, but it’s 4:37 and I can see Gill packing up his backpack that he got free at a conference 15 years ago. The station secretary is, undoubtedly, reaching into the candy bowl on her desk in order to, as she says, “End this day on a sweet note!”
Another red light, another liability overcome, another camera flash behind me. “Press,” I tell the jerks I pass. “Press, press, press,” all the way down E Street to the station.
I get to DelphaRay-Dio at 4:51 and am surprised that Gill isn’t hunched over the reception area politely laughing at the secretary's jokes. “Well Gill, do you think one sweet ever hurt anyone?” she asked him, every day I was an intern here.
“Well, uh, um, well no I guess it hasn't,” he'd say.
“Then why don't you have one, you skinny-minny?” Then she'd pick out a good one from her bowl and unwrap it for him and he'd smile as he ate it. There was a lot of sexual tension in everything they did.
I walk in and the secretary pulls her hand out of the candy bowl. She grabs the pendant of some saint around her neck and goes red in the face. She opens her mouth and a piece of chocolate falls out. She is speechless (asset). I walk into Gill’s office unannounced.
Gill Reeber has really let himself go since my departure. His desk, never tidy, is now stacked with papers so high that I can only see the top of his balding head, which is bent down and pressed into an old telephone receiver. His voice is nasally and, as always, it sounds like he’s complaining; totally unfit for radio. It is a liability of his.
“Yes,” he says, “stolen… The DelphaRay-Dio van, that’s right… Well no, I don’t have the information with me right now, but you’ve definitely seen it… Yes, the dorsal fin on top and the Roman historian painted on the side… Well in fact I think I know the young man that stole it… Yes, his name is — ” (liability!)
I pull the cord out of the wall.
“Agnew,” he says it like he’s calling me into his office, “Hello? Are you still there?”
“Hey, Gill.” I sit down. He looks up. I can just see his eyes over all the papers.
“You cannot be here Agnew.”
“I’m actually — ”
“Do you have the van, young man?”
“Yes, of course. I was just borrowing it.” I put the keys on a stack of papers and he snatches them. A few sheets fly off the top with them. “I’m not a thief, Gill.”
“Is all the equipment still in it?”
“There was no equipment in it.”
He thinks about this, and then says, “You need to go now, Agnew. Right now.”
“Look,” I say, “Just hang on, alright? I’ve got something else for you. A story.”
“You are wasting my time, young man”
“Hang on, hang on. Wait. What’s the biggest story in The Delph right now, Gill?” His eyes squint. “Probably mine, right? For better or worse, probably the Drexler story.” His eyes widen. “So,” I say, “I revisited Dr. Drexler’s.”
He bolts up out of his chair. Now I can see his little shoulders peaking up over the papers. “Are you serious?” His voice cracks, and then he starts shouting. “Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea how much trouble you have caused me already?”
“Come on, Gill.” I hold my field recorder up and give it a little shake. “Two hundred bucks.” I smile.
Work With Your Editor
His face comes launching through the stacks of papers. His little body follows and then he falls onto me and I fall backwards in my chair. He’s slapping my face like a cat. He’s scratching my belly. He’s crying and yelling. I am too.
“I need money man. I did so much work for you and you didn't pay me for any of it.” I pinch his nose.
“You didn't do a lick of work, you bum,” he says and starts scratching my belly.
“Your station is a joke.” I pull his hair.
“You're a loser.” He picks up a piece of paper and shoves it into my mouth. I push his hands away and pull it out. It's a court order. All of the papers around the room are a some kind of court order featuring Gill's name, the station’s, Dr. Drexler's, and mine.
The secretary comes in the room and wails. Her doughy fist is white around Saint Someone. “No Gilly,” she says “you’re going to kill him!”
Gill gives me one last slap on the face and shoves my stomach and stumbles backwards belly-up on his hands and feet. “You can go to hell,” he says, crawling like a crab with his chin on his chest, “dick.” He collapses and the secretary runs to him and falls to her knees. She shoves his head into her breasts and rubs his bald spot.
“Oh Gilly, oh Gilly.” She looks at me like I’m a villain. “Go,” she says.
“Alright, shit. I’m out.” I get up and try to flatten my blazer where he crumpled it. “You're lucky I'm not suing you for that,” I say.
On my way I take a piece of candy from the bowl at reception. There’s a police car in the parking lot (liability) so I go out the side door and hail a cab.
Avoid Legal Action
Unfortunately my assets did not pan out as expected— except for the van. Also, my confidence didn't do much in the end and the differences with my editor were a bit too big to work out. I also realize now that given the gag-orders, cease and desists, and other various pieces of ongoing litigation surrounding me and my story, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to sell it.
It's also unlikely that I'll be able to go home without running into my landlord, who I for sure cannot pay, so I tell the cabbie to take me to the library where I think I can spend the night. Also, I ask him what his deal is, because to sell a radio spot in The Delph, you have to:
Find a New Story
Unfortunately, he takes this as an excuse to bore the shit out of me. I guess he thinks I don't know what a refugee is—and that there's a booming market for sob stories. The upshot is that I get the address of the trafficker that got him here, who I am definitely going to get in touch with. Also, when he stops at a red light there's a crowd of people I can jump into and get away from him without paying the fare.
Nicholas Santalucia is at nicsanta.com