Certain guests in my radio career made me want to do something out of the ordinary to prepare for their arrival. When Julia Child was coming to KLOS, I wanted to feed her. When Captain Kangaroo was coming, I wanted to re-create part of his show.
In yesterday’s post about the death of Gary Coleman, I alluded to Bob Keeshan’s appearance on the Mark & Brian show. In one of our planning meetings, somebody suggested dropping ping pong balls on the TV icon. My wife and I went about obtaining a large quantity of ping pong balls from Sport Chalet and devised a way to drop them. We filled a mesh laundry bag with the small white orbs. My wife re-worked the drawstring so that tugging on it would open the bag.
When I got to work the next day, I secured the laundry bag to the ceiling of the radio studio, over the large counter top that the hosts and guests sat around. I had an engineer point an extra microphone at the counter to capture the sound of the ping pong balls hitting the surface. I also had Mark & Brian lower their studio chairs. I wanted to keep Mr. Keeshan’s focus as low as possible. I even asked Mark & Brian to pull their hands down to waist-level when shaking hands with the Captain.
While Mr. Keeshan waited in the green room, the listening audience was told what to expect. Shortly before a commercial break, Mark & Brian would lead Bob into a knock-knock joke. That would be my cue to pull the string and release the ping pong balls. All went according to plan and the Captain’s reaction was perfect.
The commercials started and I began retrieving the ping pong balls. I was on all fours under the counter when I unexpectedly bumped into someone. It was Captain Kangaroo, also on all fours, helping to clean up the mess. I was stunned and delighted at the same time. Before he left, I made sure he autographed one of the ping pong balls for me.