BY MOLLY SHAKER
On Saturday morning, a woman proposed to Dan Harris over the phone in the office. And someone asked Ron Claiborne whether he had an afro back in the’70s. And Bianna Golodryga dropped a bit of casual Russian. All of this in phone conversations with people they had never met, though there was something about each of these chats that seemed like they were talking to old friends.
We’re always looking for ways to connect with our viewers, and yesterday we decided to take it one step further and speak with you. We set up a toll free number and flashed it across the screen at the end of the broadcast and asked you to give us a ring.
After weeks of establishing the right number and hooking up a bank of phones in the gray conference room above our studio, we corralled the entire weekend staff to answer your calls and put them through to the anchor you wanted to talk to most.
At 8:45 am, the anchors, greeters, producers and crew filled the conference room and talked logistics. Our goal was simple: to give as many of our viewers as humanly possible the opportunity to get to know our team on a different, more personal level.
We broke off into position — Dan, Bianna and Ron at cubicles next to one another, with cameras in front of them, standing by for their first calls.
At 8:59 am, our senior producer Matt turned to me and said, “One minute until the lines are open, Molly!” Then the clock strikes 9:00 am. We wait. No phones are ringing. We keep waiting.
And suddenly… the phones won’t stop ringing. “How do we decide what stories to put on TV?” “I have a crush on Ron. Do you think he’d send me an autographed picture?” “What are Dan’s cats names?”
It was full of great moments, but here are some highlights from our anchor call-in.
A woman calls for Dan, looking for advice on how to handle her elderly cat Muzzy
Caller: My daughter has 2 boy cats. And they fight. And I don’t know what to do about it.
Dan: Let them fight. They’re, uh, playing.
Caller: But they hurt my cat.
Dan: Oh, they fight with the older one?
Caller: The two boys fight with the little girl.
Dan: Oh, well that’s not cool.
Caller: No, it isn’t.
Dan: You know what you can do? Get a water gun. One of those little spray guns? It’s a great way to discipline a cat without hurting him.
Caller: Is it?
Dan: Yes. If the cat’s misbehaving, you spray them with a little bit of water, and they learn their lesson eventually.
Caller: Oh. Well not only do I hear the news every day coming from you, I got some information about my cat!
Dan: (laughs) Anytime! I’m here to help. I’m like the cat whisperer.
Nathaniel, an 11-year-old aspiring meteorologist, also called for Dan
Dan: You’re 11? Why do you like weather so much?
Nathaniel: I did since I was little because it’s very fascinating.
Dan: What do you prefer, cold fronts or warm fronts?
Nathaniel: I prefer warm fronts.
Dan: Warm fronts? I do too. I won’t lie to you. Is there a kind of extreme weather that you find very interesting? Tornadoes? Hurricanes?
Nathaniel: Hurricanes. I’m down in Pennsylvania, and we get lots of snow like you guys. So it’s nasty down here.
Dan: It’s nasty down there?
Nathaniel: Because we’re right off the lake.
Dan: You’re right off the lake. So do you get lake effect snow?
Nathaniel: Yeah. We get lots of lake effect snow.
Dan: I’m going to admit something to you Nathaniel. I’ve heard the term lake effect snow many, many times, but I have no idea what it means.
Nathaniel: It means when (reception cuts out)
Dan: Wait, can you tell that to me again? It broke up.
Nathaniel: It’s when the cold front gets blocked, and we get covered with snow and… we get lots of cancellations.
Dan: Wait, can you explain lake effect snow to me one more time?
Nathaniel: Lake effect snow is when the cold front goes over the water and gathers up some moisture. Then when it hits land, it just drops.
Dan: So it’s a cold front, it comes over the water, and then it gathers the moisture off the lake and then it drops it on people nearby?
Nathaniel: Yes, it drops. And it’s made it as far down… it’s made it to Pittsburgh before.
Dan: It’s made it all the way to Pittsburgh.
Nathaniel: It’s made it to that area.
Dan: I can’t believe I’ve been in this business for 20 years, I didn’t know what lake effect snow was until I talked to you.
Nathaniel: Well, lake effect snow can be dangerous sometimes.
Dan: Oh, that’s good to know. How is it dangerous?
Boy: Because it can come down so fast, road crews can’t get it in time.
Ron’s interesting phone conversation with Larry — about his zodiac sign
Larry: Yeah, how ya doin? Is this Dave?
Ron: No, it’s Ron.
Larry: Uh, Ron from where?
Ron: Ron from Good Morning America Weekend…. how you doing man?
Larry: I’m sorry. I thought your name was Dave.
Ron: No, I’m not Dave. I’m the guy on the TV. You called me.
Larry: I’m sorry. Hey man, you got a second?
Ron: That’s why I’m calling you.
Larry: Great. Look here man. I’ve been doing this research for a while. First of all, what’s your zodiac sign?
Larry: You are the man. You know that right? You know you shine and you gotta run everything. You know that right?
Ron: Of course.
Larry: You know your soul mate is an Aquarius. Are you married?
Ron: No, but I’ll look for an Aquarius.