I spent twenty-five years in news and talk radio. I wasn’t given a gold watch when I retired. But I did reach for the brass ring for my last years and ended up one of only two female general managers in a major market. My claim to fame, if there is one; I launched a sports talk radio station here in L.A. Proof that God has a sense of humor.
So I suppose it’s not surprising, after years of writing news and commercial copy, that when I wanted to write fiction I would chose to place my protagonist inside a busy news talk radio station. It’s what I knew.
And I wanted my protagonist, Carol Childs, to be a smart, glib, female reporter who believed brains beats brawn and that a microphone was more powerful than a forty-five.
I saw first hand exactly how valuable those particular traits could be.
Radio reporters are a breed unto themselves. Often they are on a first-name basis with many of their listeners who consider them a friend. Sometimes that friendship goes a little deeper and a listener will call into the station and divulge inside information on high-profile crime. Information a reporter may never have uncover were it not for the faceless anonymity of radio.
Back 1985, serial murderer and rapist, Richard Ramirez, was terrorizing southern California neighborhoods with a spree of attacks, that earned him the name The Night Stalker. For months, the news had been carrying stories about a twenty-year-old college student who would later be convicted of killing eleven people. But when neighbors caught the serial killer, as he tried to steal two cars and assault a woman, it was because they knew who he was and banded together, like an avenging posse, overpowering him until the police could come and arrest him. I remember being in the newsroom when a listener called in with news of his apprehension and we carried live, blow by blow.
I’ve tried to use situations like this in my books. In my latest book, Without A Doubt, Carol Childs finds herself in the middle of jewelry store heist while on assignment to cover another totally unrelated story. Her coverage of the robbery attracts the attention of the perpetrator who befriends her on the air, calling in to discuss the crime and praise her for her coverage. It’s a spooky situation that leads to a string of burglaries, murder and an intensive investigation. It pits Carol against those she works with and strains the relationship with her boyfriend, FBI agent, Eric Langdon.
This has been a fun, fast series to write. While the stories are often pulled from the headlines, it’s the politics of a newsroom, often my subplots, I hope readers will find not only entertaining but also informative.
Nancy Cole Silverman is the author of the Carol Childs Mysteries published with Henery Press and numerous short stories. For more about Nancy visit her website: http://www.nancycolesilverman.com