Rick's List — "First Time Caller" Edition

Several of us at The Day are regularly scheduled weekly guests on 94.9 News Now's "Lee Elci Show." It's a talk radio format, if you've never heard the program, but I'm not writing today to discuss the station's conservative political views or our separate or collective contributions.

Instead, of far more importance, is something all of us who participate in talk radio or listen to it are painfully familiar with: The compulsion for callers to let the host know one of two things.

1. "Hi Lee, I'm a first-time caller."

2. Or "Hey, Lee, first-time/long time ..." This is talk radio-insider speak to let the listening audience know the caller feels a comfortably integrated part of the show but, for reasons we all infer are very important and suggestive of a busy, important day-to-day schedule, has not been able to call in lately — and he or she KNOWS we have missed them. We're possibly even a little angry or bitter, the caller believes, that they've been away.

But, by quickly opening with the "first time/long time" qualifier, we are soothed and relieved that the caller is back where he or she is supposed to be, and the show is now operating at maximum strength and dynamics.

What I've always wondered is: If it's important to let the host and listeners know that you've never called in before, or that you call in with some regularity but it's been a while since you've done so, why don't other call-in algorithms come into play?

1. "Good morning, Lee, this is the seventh time I've called your show. The first time was in the spring of 2014 — I believe it was about something W had done way back during Operation Sparkle-Falcon — and then, in rapid succession, I dialed you four times in September of '16 leading up to Trump's election, and then once last November when y'all had that Turkey Drive ..."

2. "Hey, Lee, second time/long time if by 'long time' you mean a period of five to seven weeks."

3. "Lee, I'm a 217-time caller."

4. "Morning, Lee, fifth time I've called this month, up from four times in March and, uhm, I think I called twice in January."

It also seems to me that we could use this call-frequency gambit to sharpen listeners' math skills. Makes us work a bit while we're enjoying the callers' pithy contribution.

1. "Lee, if you subtract the attendance at last night's San Diego Padres game from the accepted number of killed and wounded at the Battle of Antietam, then add the number of Snow Badgers on the endangered species list in Wyoming, and finally divide by .732, you'll get the number of times I've called in. Love your show, man!" 

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