When the audience speaks, we listen
Frank Cotolo
29 Jan, 2009
Here at Cotolo Chronicles, we get many letters, emails, packages and personally delivered messages that contain any number of attitudes, opinions, accolades and drawings of stick-figure men. We do not ignore any of them. Even the letters that are sticky, with chocolate stains and the emails that have multi attachments are perused and answered.
Over the years we have established that our audience is moved and riled by the program. We embrace those reactions for rarely is one program able to move and rile its audience. Dr. Phil's show, for instance, has been known to move its audience but riling them has been a goal since the program debuted. Of course back then the show did not have seats for its audience because the doctor insisted the studio have lawn chairs instead of theater seats.
So not even Dr. Phil paid as much attention to audience opinion as we do. As for his mentor, Oprah Winfrey, we hear she chops up her analog mail and sprinkles it in her lunch salads.
But those shows, unlike our program, are for a mass audience. Our show is for a special audience, a group of unique people who love to put nothing where there was once something. And we pay attention to all of them, respond to all of them and often use their names when waiting for a table at a restaurant.
Take, for instance, a letter that came to us through the mail from Eunice Pretorious of Utah. She wrote: "Why can't I hear your show in my state?" It didn't take us two minutes to find a piece of paper and a pen and write back to Eunice with this comment: "Beats us."
There is no template for the listener of our program. Some are black, some are white, some are tall, others short; some pass breakfast for an early lunch; some pass kidney stones; others are Christians, a few are Jewish; a sprinkling of them are dog-lovers and tree-huggers; two of them are former members of the singing group, The Lettermen. But all of them are unique: even the twins from Manitoba, who are joined at the toes and travel the country as an act called "The Human Wheel."
Oprah chops up her analogue mail and sprinkles it on her salads for lunch.
Mr. Cotolo supervises the staff sessions involving audience mail. Usually he makes the staff pile all of the mail on the ends of a long conference table and has each staff member take one pile and see if he or she can balance the stack on their heads. Then, when that fails, each envelope is opened and the contents are carefully scoped by a machine that authenticates the letter as just a letter and not a carefully designed code that only a secret organization could interpret.
After the analog mail is read, the email is read. It is answered immediately with the following message: "We can't answer your email just now. Keep watching your email box for a detailed reply. Those of you asking for instructions on how to turn a common oilcan into a nifty waffle iron are asked to be patient until we can print the text for that procedure."
So write to us often and always expect our complete and undivided attention to your correspondence.
Frank Cotolo can be found hosting the talk and interview programme Cotolo Chronicles. You can send him an e-mail at this address: frank@148.ca.
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