Super Blooper

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

When folks make a big mistake at their workplace or something goes terribly wrong, not many people usually know it happened. Sometimes no one ever even finds out about it! But that’s not the case for me and my lifelong career. My work on radio and TV has always been right up in your face, here it is, take it or leave it, what was said is done, no chance to do it over again! Live broadcasting is like that. You must have spunk and an easy-going spirit in this business to be able to laugh at yourself if something goes awry, knowing no one is going to die or be disfigured as a result of your screw-up. How lucky am I? And yet, there have been way too many bloopers to discuss in the short time we have here together, but I’d like to fill you in on one of the most awkward moments I have ever had on TV. I call it my “Super Blooper.”

Back in the early to mid eighties I was the Host and Producer for “Pee Dee People,” a public affairs show on ABC WPDE-TV 15 in Florence, South Carolina, where I was fortunate to meet the man of my dreams, Chuck. He can vouch for this story, as it is still one of WPDE’s most memorable and historic moments!

Each day, I featured three guests on my show. But once a week, I opened the phone lines for viewers to call into the studio and talk live on the air with one guest who was an expert in their field. I am proud to tell you I was the first in the market to be BRAVE enough to do this, besides it was the first talk show of its kind in the area. From cardiologists to gynecologists, nutritionists to gardeners, and everything in between, I gave them a voice.

St. Patrick’s Day was approaching and being the warped minded, out of the box thinker that I still am today, I invited Dr. Elgie Nissan a veterinarian from Marion, South Carolina, to join me on TV with an Irish setter to add green flavor to the program.

When I called this man whom I did not know, but was referred by a friend, he thought it was a joke! He asked me a million questions to be assured I was really who I said I was.

He also asked if he could think about it overnight and get back to me. Meanwhile, I called some people I knew in Marion to contact Elgie and push him over the edge saying it would be good for business. Free publicity so to speak.

It all came down on March 17, 1982.

As we were getting ready to go live at noon, Elgie admitted he was very nervous about opening the phones for questions but I assured him I could handle anything and he was in good hands. I told him I was always very lucky to have a great following so there was never a day without callers who had genuine concerns and questions.

My first caller asked about flea collars. Do they really work and which one is best?

Elgie answered with ease. Next came a question about feline leukemia virus and the vaccine that was recently in the news. Once again, Elgie breezed through a great response as this beautiful Irish Setter who belonged to one of his clients sat quietly with a green shamrock scarf wrapped around his neck.

However, it was the third caller who severely rattled us all.

“Hi,” I said. “This is Pee Dee People how can we help you?”

“Hi Diane,” replied the caller. “I have a question for the doctor? Could my old man get CRABS from our dog?”

Yes, you heard right! That’s exactly what I did when I first heard that statement.

I stopped in my tracks and thought, did I really hear that correctly? But having been in this business for a long time, I knew that most obscene or troublemaker calls were said fast with caller hanging up! This caller was very deliberate, talking slowly and was still on the line with us! All I could think to say was, “I don’t know dear, but let’s ask the doctor!”

Looking over at Elgie who was as green as the Irish setter’s scarf, I realized he was stunned. He took a deep breath and started to laugh and said, I guess we will have to start over! Then I reminded him that we were live on the air and this caller seems very serious about her question and deserves an appropriate answer. Elgie could not stop laughing, but he looked straight into the camera and said, “Lady, not hardly. But if he tells you he did, divorce him!”

It was a very honest answer from a vet who knew he would never live this down when he got back to Marion. Then he almost had a heart attack when he heard me say, “Let’s go to the next caller!”

He said, “Haven’t we had enough?”

And I responded with “We have ten minutes left of the show to take questions and nothing could be more embarrassing than the last call so let’s do it”.

Needless to say, the rest of the show went well, and Elgie left the studio red-faced and laughing saying it was fun to be on TV with me, but it was like snow skiing. It was much more fun after it was over!

He told me to never call him again.

And I know what y’all are thinking. Where was the delay system? Keep in mind only very big market stations had delay systems in place for calls like these when they went live on the air. No place that I have ever worked had anything as cool as a delay system!

There have been many more bloopers in my forty-six years of broadcasting, and I treasure every single one of them: The good, the bad and the ugly. Some I could not even repeat here in print or Sasee would run me out of town. And yet, it’s been, and still is, an absolutely priceless career, regardless of the many bloopers. No regrets whatsoever!

About this writer

  • Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane is the host and producer for “Inside Out” as seen on HTC TV Channel 4, and serves as a commercial spokesperson for several local businesses. She and her husband Chuck own Stages Video productions in Myrtle Beach and share passions for food, theater, travel and scuba diving.

    They own three four legged kids that they adore!

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One Response to “Super Blooper”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    One of the funniest stories! You made a name for yourself and so did Elgie.

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