You want me to go WHERE and interview WHO?
Let’s back up. I had just started working at CHUM FM radio station in Toronto and was asked the following: “Meg can you go to Harry Connick Jr’s hotel for an interview”?
The year: 2004.
The nerves: frayed.
This was my first assignment and it had to be good.
I had to go downtown to conduct a Harry Connick Jr interview. He was in town for the Toronto International Film Festival. I had to record the interview with a microphone attached to an MP3 player, bring it back to CHUM, and hand off to a producer so clips could be used on the Morning Show as well as in my podcast. NO BIGGIE. (dying). Please keep in mind my background wasn’t broadcasting school or a technical college. For my backstory, read here before proceeding.
Let’s be clear. I wasn’t dying because I was a fan-girl.
I was dying because like anything new I wanted it all to go swimmingly. Which should have been my first red flag. Things don’t ever go exactly according to plan. I just didn’t realize they would go SO wrong.
The afternoon of the interview arrived and thankfully I had spent the morning doing something on camera so a professional had fixed my hair and makeup. *BONUS points to have that scheduled the same day. I grabbed a taxi chit from the front desk and hopped in a cab down to “insert fancy hotel name”. While in the cab, I tested all my equipment. All systems go. Clutching my bag, clipboard, pen, notes, purse, MP3 player, microphone, extra batteries, I made my way up to his suite pretending to be ALL IN CONTROL but 100% convinced people could tell it was my first assignment of life.
Many interviews are conducted in hotel rooms, this isn’t weird.
You arrive at “said hotel” and meet the celebrity and team in a suite. The interviews normally would take place in a living room style setting, where the artists and actors would feel more comfy and less in the public eye.
So. As the elevator made it’s way to the 900th floor (or so it felt), I thought, one more quick test of the mic. Push here, click that, turn this dial. FUCK. Nothing. No light. SHIT. No connection. No audio wavy meter telling me that my voice was moving from the microphone into the recording device. Shit. Shit Shit Shit. DING! I was on his floor. Omg I was on the floor just steps away from HARRY FUCKING CONNICK JR’s HOTEL ROOM AND I HAD A BROKEN RECORDER. Grammy and Emmy-award winning 28 million albums sold singer, composer, and actor and I had no way of completing my assignment.
Now you might be yelling right now – “go back!!! GET ANOTHER DEVICE”! I know, this would be the perfect solution. Only I couldn’t. I had a predetermined time slot and it was firm. 1:05pm. Sharp. Not before, not after, that was my slot. My tiny window. OMG. What was I going to do? Fake it? Pretend it was recording the whole time, knowing full well that nothing would record, then get back to work and make up a lie? That would NOT end well, what if it led to me losing my DREAM job? OMG, I was hooped.
But yet, for whatever reason that I am still not sure of to this day, I got off the elevator and walked straight to his door. And I rang the doorbell. Or knocked. And guess what happened next?
He answered the door.
Not his people. Not an assistant, not a publicist, agent, manager or talent wrangler, but Harry himself. “Hello there sweetie come on in”!
I think I vaguely recall taking a giant breath and just walking in and spilling the beans talking 500 miles an hour. “Hi-it’s-amazing-to-meet-you-my-name-is-meg-I-am-so-sorry-but-my-recording-device-literally-stopped-working-in-the- elevator”. BREATHE. He looked at me, I am now convinced he saw nothing but sheer terror in my face, and his eyes crinkled as that big genuine Louisana smile spread across his face. He then said the following words I will treasure for the rest of my life…
“Oh darlin, don’t you worry. Come on in, let’s take a look at that old thing and get this workin again”.
And so, for the next 10 minutes we sat on the couch, no one else in the room. Not a star and a reporter, just a guy helping a girl fix a broken tape recorder for her very first day on the job. We got it fixed, then we started the interview.
You are a class act Harry, you will always be my first. Thank you for being a true southern gentleman, and a fantastic human being.
Enjoy, Meg xo