Among observations on would-be guests from the bookers of Washington-based talk shows:
Deborah Tang, producer, "Good Morning Washington," Channel 7 (WJLA): "I'm irritated by people who assume I haven't read my mail . . . think they're being put off if an associate producer tells them 'no' . . . use my first name and act like they know me.
"I'm impressed by people with ideas that make me sit up and say, 'Hey, I didn't know that.' I like new angles to good, basic stories, and I like using local people. When people put obvious thought and effort into their query, like the women who sent a press kit with a box of 12 long-stemmed chocolate chip-cookies, I'm impressed."
Terrell Lamb, "All Things Considered," National Public Radio: "We like to have clever, kind of folksy ideas, particularly if they have some audio element like the man from Omaha, Neb., who sent us a sound sculpture called "Star Dust." We don't go for self-help books, and the fact that a book's on the top-10 list isn't a reason for us to do it. The more up front and to the point people are, the better. It's fine if they call and follow up something they sent. But don't bug us."
Frances Seeger, associate producer, "Panorama," Channel 5 (WTTG): "I don't like it when people call before they've thought out what they want to say, or if they don't know anything about the show. We go on the air live at noon, so it's annoying when people call at 11:30.
"We like to know what's going on in the community. Right now we're staying away from food, fashions and exercise. Gimmicks don't affect our decision as to whether we book something. Often the people who send those things are too commercial for us to use. Once someone sent a cheesecake, we ate it and then they got upset that we couldn't use them on the show."
Tamara Haddad, producer, "The Larry King Show," Mutual Radio Network: "We use two kinds of guests: celebrities--who range from entertainers to people like Lee Iacocca--and news makers or issue-type guests. We don't usually put the average American on, but one thing Larry likes to do is talk to three taxi drivers or several students. Write, don't call.
"Just because someone was on "Good Morning America" or "Donahue" doesn't mean they'll work for us. Our guests are on for three hours, so they must be knowledgeable and able to communicate with our listeners. And you've got to have humor to be able to do something like this."
Diane Rehm, host and producer, "Kaleidoscope," WAMU-FM (88.5-FM): "I won't even look at self-help stuff these days. I'm leaning far more to public affairs and issues like the economy that affect people directly. I like to cover a broad range--science, medicine, money, politics.
"Turn-offs are last-minute calls and vague calls. I'm booking three to four weeks in advance. I look for ideas with substance, and I prefer that people send written material about what they envision the show to be. Fairly frequently I open the phones on the air and ask for people to tell me what's on their mind."
Susan Katz, producer, "Cuthbert & Co.," WRC-AM (980): "We usually go for interesting little tidbits, like the woman who hired herself out as a rent-a-mom. We're particularly interested in consumer things--a good, unusual service or something to save people money. We do a lot of studies, often about why people do the things they do. It may help if someone's local. We avoid the really political stuff the news covers. I'm turned off by people who are too pushy, but if they have a fantastic topic anyway, I won't let it stand in the way."
Barbara Emshwiller, associate producer, "Morning Break," Channel 9 (WDVM): "We do one hour on a theme, and we like to be topical. We need five to six different guests with different perspectives on the topic. So even if an idea's good, if it will only take six minutes we can't use it. It's terrific when people are prepared and suggest how we could add this element and that other person to broaden their idea into a full hour. Once a band who wanted to do the show suggested we hold a 'rising-star' talent contest. We had 25 groups and comedians audition and had the 10 best on the show.
"If we've done a subject we probably won't touch it for awhile, maybe six months, unless there are extenuating circumstances. I'd tell people not to get turned off if one booker says no. Call back or watch the credits to find out who the other associate producers are and contact them."