Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hanna Turned Eight

The C.W.A. of Dr. Z. Smith: Episode #87: The Radiophonic Racket

“I'm bored”
 “Zachary, sit back down.”

-=fig. 576: phone=-

About an hour ago Dr. Smith and Capt. Brown had been ushered in to this beige room, with beige walls and beige carpets by a friendly enough man with a zany voice, they had been encouraged by the receptionist to take a seat and told that Mr. Radio would be with them soon.
This boring room was the headquarters of QPFA, Downtown Legopolis, Your Source For Radio Programming.

It was also where Capt. Brown had convinced Dr. Smith they should start looking for radio dramas to play on TaVee.
  ”Remind me again why I had to come?” Dr. Smith whined, he wasn't good at sitting in one place for what felt like hours.
   “Because I have no idea how this thing works.   Don't worry, just leave most of the talking to me.”  Capt. Brown {being the Mayor,} was a good talker.
The big beige doors opened, and Mr. Radio stepped through.
   “I Apologise for Keeping you waiting.” He said.  “I hear you have something to sell me. If it's encyclop√¶dias I have a set, if its cookies I'll take a dozen boxes of the mint ones.”

-=fig. 577: mr. radio=-

Mr. Radio was an older man, with a boring grey suit, a boring grey briefcase, and a boring grey beard.
  “Well, You don't look like little girls so you can't be pushing cookies.”
      “Mr. Radio,” started Capt. Brown “I am Captain James Brown, the Mayor, and this is my associate, Dr. Smith.”
     Dr. Smith was wearing his best tweed suit, which, if we're being honest, is just his cleanest tweed suit. Capt. Brown could only be described as…scruffy.
    Pressing police business had prevented him from shaving this morning, {but he probably wouldn't have remembered anyway,} And his leather trenchcoat was at this point more trench than coat. 
     Mr. Radio eyed them suspiciously.
The mayor everyone knows from the coins is clean-shaven.
   And has a funnier hat.
    “How did you get in my building?” accused Mr. Radio,
       “Sir,” Dr. Smith said “I have invented a technology that will revolutionise radio forever.”
    “Oh you have, have you?  And what have you invented?  A deeper bass? More powerful antenn√¶? A new kind of cowboy? You and every other crackpot. Get out of my lobby.”
    Dr. Smith couldn't understand sarcasm, so Mr. Radio's speech was baffling to him.
  “I haven't invented any of that, what I have invented is a way to transmit and receive moving pictures over the radio waves. Cheap, too.”
    Mr. Radio stopped, “Moving Pictures…You mean like movies?”
       “Oh yeah!  It could do movies too!”  This had never occurred to Dr. Smith.  “James, next we need to talk to RKO.”
    “You got it Zachary.”
     Mr. Radio waved off the guards who had come to firmly escort the crackpots out.
       “Maybe we should talk in my office.  Did you bring it with you?”
         “Yeah–” Dr. Smith said, then Capt. Brown stepped on his foot.  Things tended to go south fast when Dr. Smith had a chance to talk to actual people for any length of time.
              “It's the thing on wheels with the cloth covering it.” Capt. Brown finished “If you could get those strong-looking guards you just waved off to bring it in, it's pretty heavy.”
“Do you have an AC plug in this room?”  Dr. Smith asked.
   “In the corner.” 
    The TaVee Flickered, and emitted a gentle static. 
It sparked to life.
-=fig. 578: on-the-go-tavee=-

“Ah! Who's that?”
 “Jeeves.  He's my…” Capt. Brown had warned Dr. Smith about this earlier, he had said that people don't buy things from a guy with a butler.  It gives the impression you don't need the money. “…Jeeves.” Dr. Smith finished lamely.
  “Sir?  Does the red light mean it's going?” Jeeves asked.
Capt. Brown handed Dr. Smith a phone. “Do you mind if we use your phone?”
Mr. Radio shrugged.
  Dr. Smith dialed, and the phone in the laboratory rang.
    “It's Live.” Mr. Radio gasped,
      “Didn't I mention that?”

 “So what do you call this thing?” Asked Mr. Radio.
   “TaVee.” Answered Capt. Brown.
    “Sounds foreign.”
      “It's an acronym,” Piped up Dr. Smith, who had forgotten all about letting Capt. Brown talk “It stands for Tele-Audio-Visual Entertainment Engine. ”
         “Free bit of advice, nobody will go for something that sounds that foreign.  Make your acronym two letters, TaVee won't go anywhere, but I can see TV taking off.  So what is it you want me to buy? ”
   This is where Capt. Brown knew what he was doing, in his role as mayor he dealt with a lot of trade professionals, “What we'd like you to buy are the rights to broadcast Ta–TV signals, you have the radio infrastructure, and we also think that some of your existing shows would look great in Living Monochrome, with very little initial financial outlay on your part.”
   Mr. Radio looked hard at Capt. Brown, “Have you ever seen a Radio Program being produced?  It's all done in a studio, where the sounds are best. Our Cowboys come in dressed in suits, our horses are cocoanuts.  Creating visual content would be a huge outlay on my part.  Why do I want the rights?  How do I Even know this is going to be popular?  What if nobody goes for it? I mean, It's awfully grainy.”
    “That's because I'm piggybacking AM 91.1 with a little radar dish strapped to my roof.” Dr Smith chimed in  “Once you start broadcasting it yourself the quality will increase exponentially.”
     “What  if somebody tunes into 91.1?”
“I think it's time to leave.” Capt. Brown said “I was going to let you in on the ground floor here, but I guess you're not interested.  Zachary, Where's RKO headquartered?”
  Mr. Radio stopped him, “I never said I wasn't interested, I just said it would cost a lot on my end.  How much do you want?”
   Capt. Brown took a quick glace at Dr. Smith, they hadn't actually discussed price.
      “Four-hundred dollars.  With a fifteen percent royalty on any advertising revenue you make. ”
    Mr. Radio took a step back.  “Four-Hundred… That's steep. Two.”
            “Done.  Dr. Smith will have the rights, all written up official-like, to you within the week. C.O.D.*, Because I'm nice.  Have a day.”
They left.
-=fig. 579: e street=-

Dr. Smith and Capt. Brown walked along the sidewalk, towards the next radio station.
“So…What did we sell him?”
   “The rights to broadcast on television. Being the first one on a new medium is a huge advantage.”
      “And he paid Three-Hundred-and-Twenty-five dollars for that?  Sucker.”
         Capt. Brown laughed, “Yes he was.” He said.  They'd started early, so they were planning on knocking out a couple more radio stations before lunch.  It was a nice enough day, slightly overcast, but nothing too threatening. If this weren't a city, A bird might have sang. Since this was a city, A seagull mugged a robin within an inch of it's songbird life.
   People buzzed about, obviously, stupidly busy.
      A phone-booth rang.
        It rang again.
          Dr. Smith passed it by.
             It stopped.
                Another phone booth, a few yards away, started ringing.
                  This pattern repeated twice more before Dr. Smith figured it out and picked up the receiver.
  “Sir?” Said a nervous, faintly robotic voice on the other end, “We have a…Problem.”

*Cash On Delivery