Jim Parisi is no Jack Bauer, but this Sunday starting at 10 a.m., he's embarking on his own version of 24. And to accomplish his goals, he needs a lot of help from you, you, yes you, and about 400 other yous.
Parisi, the operations manager at KEVT AM 1210, will spend a full day on the air—10 a.m. Sunday to 10 a.m. Monday—in an effort to set a new Guinness world record for the most face-to-face interviews conducted by one person. In addition to pursuing a new face-to-face interview mark, Parisi picked the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend as an appreciation to veterans.
"Hopefully, the first 100 people are veterans," said Parisi. "We've already lined up about 50 through a couple organizations in town."
After that, whatever it takes to set the new record.
"The previous record is 347, done by a woman in Florida outside a Walmart," said Parisi. "Before that it was 290-something done by someone in Italy. It's fast. We're going to have people in and out in two or three minutes. Boom, boom, boom, they'll be lined up. Area restaurants will provide food downstairs in our sales office. It will be insanity for 24 hours. We'll be pulling anyone we can pull in for 24 hours."
And Parisi means anyone. As in anyone. If you can make your way to the studio at 2919 E. Broadway Blvd. (the studio is on the third floor) just west of Country Club and the Chase Bank, there's a good chance you'll get a couple minutes of radio time.
"Everybody is invited to come down and go on mic with me," Parisi said. "If you ever wanted to get your two cents in, if you're a sports fan and you want to say something about teams, or say hi to your dad in another country, anything, everyone is welcome. Kids, adults, competitive stations, anybody. That's the beauty. I want people to wander in. You can bring homeless people in. Do anything you want. We're just going to talk to you."
Once the idea marinated, Parisi discovered that getting Guinness approval wasn't easy. The world-record people take their world records seriously.
"They need a lot of proof," Parisi said. "The Guinness people are real sticklers. It took us a long time to get approval for the application. It took almost two months. Even if we change batteries in the camera, we have to have a second camera running. They don't want any manipulation of the rules, even though we're already broadcasting it live on the radio. We need 16 people to monitor, a timekeeper, we have to have a logbook, there has to be someone on at all times. The clock keeps ticking even if there aren't interviews. There will be entries in a logbook tabulating the number of interviews per hour. (The location) has to be accessible, so I can't put it in a closed environment. People need to be able to come in and see it for it to be counted as a record. The building works perfectly for that. They have security. They're open and accessible 24 hours. There's video surveillance. A lot of it made sense. The more I looked at it I said, 'you know what, we can do this.'"
Parisi may be one of the few in radio who has. Not just in terms of interviewing a multitude of people in a 24-hour period, but being on the air consecutively in a 24-hour period. Radio is littered with stories of pissed off jocks who locked themselves in the studio for extended periods of time as a protest against the station or a job just lost, but in most of those circumstances they'd play the same song over and over and over.
Talking for a 24-hour period could be a different level of insanity.
"I'm not embarrassed to say I really, really don't know how I'm going to sound," Parisi said. "Not many people have been live on the air for 24 hours. I'm not 20 anymore. We're really looking forward to it. I'm getting a little nervous as we get closer, because I honestly don't know if I'll have a voice by the time this is over. The interviews—let's be real about it—will be of very poor quality. There's no way in two minutes you can get into anything substantial, and 16, 17, 18 hours into this I'll be happy if I still have a voice. It's more about the record and staying on the air."
And doing whatever it takes to set KEVT apart.
"We don't have corporate to go to to approve all these crazy ideas, so let's have fun with it. I wanted to do something unusual and mildly difficult," said Parisi, who launched the 1210 talk format about a year and a half ago. "I'm really fired up about this station. We're really happy. Sales are starting to build. It looks like we're really viable. People like the product. We have some great sports teams (KEVT has affiliations with the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns and ASU football and men's basketball). We're adding some Notre Dame games. We're going to have a blast with this station and hopefully give people an alternative to really enjoy in town. I already work a million hours and enjoy every second. Sometimes I'll interview seven, eight people a day anyway. What's another 350 or so?"