"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Jake and The History Channel...which is to say

The first line of my acting bio now reads as follows: Jake Christensen recently made his world radio broadcast debut.

…which is to say I was a listener contestant on NPR’s news quiz Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Many of you have asked, and by many I mean Lexi, “How has winning on NPR’s hit show changed your life?” Well, here’s how. Recently while I was out walking, an acquaintance passed by me on the sidewalk. He asked, “Jake, did I hear you on NPR a couple Saturday’s ago?” I replied, “Yeah, it was fun!” “Cool,” he said while continuing up the street without stopping.

Okay. To be honest, I paraphrased Lexi’s question.

…which is to say she asked, “What did you win?” The answer is that I won Carl Kasell’s voice on my voice mail. (If you don’t know who Carl Kasell is, you probably stopped reading this blog nine sentences ago.) Not only did I get Carl’s voice on my answering machine, I even got to write what he said. And in fine Jake fashion, I crafted a blasé message that only an English Major could love. Oh well, at least I also got to make Carl say, “Peace Out.”

On a different topic, I think The History Channel has strayed from its core mission.

…which is to say, The History Channel may be the first entire network to ‘jump the shark’. On Memorial Day, The History Channel ran a marathon of “MonsterQuest” episodes. The station spent a good ten hours, including primetime, detailing the poorly documented history of creatures that likely don’t existence. And they did it on Memorial Day!?! What is more, on Memorial Day Eve The History Channel ran a program about what Earth might become like if humans go extinct.

…which is to say, The History Channel is now producing original programming about the future. So I’m using the remainder of this blog entry to stage an intervention. Picture me sitting History Channel down on a sofa. Spike TV and ESPN stand on either side of “HC” in case the channel gets violent or tries to run away. And now, I speak:

History Channel, I looked the other way when you started broadcasting guns n’ ammo documentaries—a shift from documenting horrific war to showcasing cool weapons. And hey, most channels have learned a thing or two from VH1 about how to make the banal look sexy. But HC, you have gone too far in your attempts to be hip.” At this point HC stammers, “I’m fine. I don’t need help!” I look deeper into this insecure channel’s eyes and say, “HC. You are never going to be The Discovery Channel. And that’s okay. Just be yourself. Do programs about history, or y’know, become it.”

1 comment:

  1. LOVED listening to you on Wait, Wait...! That's one of my favorite weekend activities, listening to that show! (Or, if I'm rehearsing, downloading the podcast onto my phone and listening later!)

    I'm thoroughly jealous of your voicemail message now! :)