In the Whale
Gary Gillette and I are both in Washington to discuss business for the next year. He also came to town to do a radio interview to help promote the 2005 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, of which he is co-editor (and I am an associate editor). Gary invited me along to the interview yesterday afternoon.
We drove through the area of DC close to the Senate office building. Perhaps the Heritage Foundation being across the street from the radio studio should have tipped us off, or maybe the VFW headquarters down the block. We parked and walked to the studio, which was located in a nondescript three-flat on Massachusetts Avenue, and were buzzed in. Walking up to the second floor we stepped into an office labeled "Graham Williams Enterprises."
This slightly-above-ramshackle office featured mismatched art, funky (and not in a good way) carpeting, and a harried office manager who sat us down. Suddenly I noticed the portrait on the wall...it was of a well-dressed black man who I knew I'd seen before.
I began to feel queasy. I looked at one of the rooms in this small office. The sign on the door said, "Armstrong Williams, CEO and co-founder."
Armstrong Williams. The conservative commentator who was in the news recently because the Bush administration paid him $240,000 to promote their No Child Left Behind Act on the air.
Shortly after we had our stunning realization, Mr. Williams ushered us into his office, from where he was doing his talk show. (His co-host was in a New York City studio. Apparently this is how a lot of radio is done these days.) He was polite and genial and bade us to sit down.
I noticed several pictures of Mr. Williams and his wife along with such figures as the Bushes, the Chaneys, and Oprah Winfrey and Steadman Graham (who, I quickly realized, is the "Graham" of Graham Williams Productions).
The interview went off fairly well, although Mr. Williams appeared to know as much about baseball as he does about liberal politics. He left most of the questioning to his co-host; she was very well prepared and asked excellent baseball questions.
The whole thing was pretty creepy, folks. Mr. Williams' topic before we were interviewed had been marital infidelity, and he asked Gary and I both , at the end of our interview, to state how long we had been married and that we had never cheated on our wives.