I am a fanatic for "call now to win!" games on the radio. I always have been.
In fact, I remember being a young girl the first time I played and got through. The song of the hour played, and I was caller 10!!
"Hi, Oldies 100, who is this?"
"Emily." - (childlike-voice)
"Emily, how old are you?"
"Sorry, you have to be over 18 to win this egg-beater. Is your mommy or daddy there?"
"No." (Mom was napping, and I knew the rule, no talking to Mom while she was napping.)
And that was the temporary end of my fun. But let me tell you, while most 18-year olds celebrate various other vices when the birthday rolls around, I was celebrating one: I could finally gamble with the radio. It was time to try my luck again, this time, with a more adult-sounding voice (sort-of).
The first contest that I won was tickets to was for an annual country concert that I had only dreamed of attending in the past. I remember arriving at school the morning that I won and faced my instant-celebrity status.
"Emily!!! I heard you on 'mzq this morning! Who are you taking? I love country!"
I took my friend Jamie. We got to watch Billy Ray Cyrus throw his sweaty towels into the crowd while singing "Achy Breaky Heart." The fun was addicting and I couldn't wait to try to win something else.
Over the years, I have called into radio stations hundreds of times, gotten through dozens, and actually won a handful. There were the VanZant tickets while driving through the middle of nowhere West VA on a road trip. (I also won a pizza too- but being I was on a trip, had to decline.) The $100 and chance to win a trip to LA to see The Who. (Didn't get that grand prize.) Tickets to Six-Flags. The best one by far though, is the most recent win.
Every morning at 7:40, one of my favorite stations plays "On the Spot". The correct caller is literally put "on the spot" and has to list 5 items from a category in 10 seconds. While the categories are generally easy, the hard part is being heard by thousands on the radio and knowing that you only have 10 seconds. A lot of people try, but few win.
I finally got my nerve and my opportunity to play "On the Spot". Normally I would have never subjected myself to such a shot of potential embarrassment. However the prize that day was going to be 2 tickets to see the Zac Brown Band play at Nationals Park this summer. You see, my husband loves Zac Brown. He was the first to love them, the first to buy their CD, the first to know each song. And because Zac Brown was touring with some guy named Dave Matthews and HIS band, well, ticket prices were not going to be affordable. I knew the only way to get my man to see his band was to win these tickets. So I called. And I got through, I was caller one. The DJ told me that the category was "entertainment" and told me to wait until 2 songs were done playing before the game would begin. Great. I had 2 songs worth of anxiety. I went through every possible scenario in my head that I may be asked:
5 primetime tv shows...5 movies playing now...5 bands coming to town...
I have to win these tickets...I have to win these tickets...not as much for the sake of the tickets, but for the sake of my humility.
Nothing that my imagination created was enough to prepare me for what the real question was.
When the DJ came back on the radio after the 2 songs, we were live.
"I've got Emily on the phone with me. Emily, are you ready to go On The Spot??"
"Sure?" I somehow managed to squeak out.
"Your category today is magazine titles. Magazine titles. Your time starts...now!"
I was in a panic. And time was ticking.
Magazine titles? As in titles of articles in magazines? Or did he say covers? Or magazines with the word "title" in their name. What is a magazine anyway?
Suddenly I found myself in a grocery store aisle about to pay for my groceries, but without first making a glance at all the headlines, a quick roll of the eyes to make sure I read everything without being seen by anyone.
"Country Weekly...People...InTouch...US Weekly....COSMO!!!!"
My enthusiastic high-pitched valley-girl scream at the end proved that it would have been far less embarrassing had I said "I give up" from the get-go.
The DJ informed me that it sounded like I was calling from a nail salon. But I won those tickets.
And much to my gratitude, as far as I know, NO ONE that I know heard me that morning.
You're welcome, Zac.