Us freelance writers work in a bubble; we write stuff and send it out. Maybe we get feedback, maybe we don't. Replies are typically form letter rejection notes. At PHC, I got material produced, so I assumed they liked it . I assumed they liked me. But I was kept at arm's length. It's more frustrating than the usual freelance gig because now you think you "broke in" but you're really still in your bubble. One would think it would change, even just enough to give you a head's up that they were going to use a skit. But no; you submit the material and then you have to listen for that week's show to hear if it got on or not. Hence the title for his new series, it was like I was barely there.
I generated a lot of material, often submitting 2 skits a week. I would generally re-work an older piece for radio and then write something new. PHC was timely yet timeless. They avoided being too topic, keeping pop culture at bay but they absolutely followed current events. That's just how it was in Lake Woebegon.
Sometimes my material hit and sometimes it missed. Sometimes I really felt I nailed it but most times I didn't. It wasn't from lack of trying. But I certainly did hit the ground running:
In 1999, I responded to an online ad for a radio show looking for comedy writers. I submitted my usual packet of material, which included my go-to bit "Abbott & Othello," a mash-up of Shakespeare and "Who's on First." They bought it. They bought the first skit I submitted. On October 2, 1999, their season premiere, the cast performed "Abbott & Othello."
OK, so they chopped it down from 5 minutes to 45 seconds, but still, it got on air. It got a lot of laughs and kicked off a productive autumn and winter, where I got several more items on, giving me a sense that I had a steady gig. The producer at the time, the one who "hired" me, Christine Tschida, was a fan of my writing (and my only source of feedback when I requested it). However, if you go to the site, note the credits: (c) 1999 by Garrison Keillor (idea contributed by Dan Fiorella). I did get my first on-air mention here, buried in a list of 11 fake writer names he says "with material by Dan Fiorella, Laura Levine," and more fake names. I'm assuming Laura Levine is real. But that was a heady moment, nonetheless.
Thus was my entry into the Minnesota Mafia...