GPB deals with an unhappy Big Bird and talking frogs

Published 7:44 am Friday, May 3, 2013

Ring! Ring!

“Hello, this is Teya Ryan, president of Georgia Public Broadcasting. I am calling to ask you to consider a donation to GPB. If you donate $250, we will send you a talking frog.”

Knock! Knock! Knock!

Email newsletter signup

“Please excuse me a moment. Yes, Wanda? What is it?”

“Ms. Ryan, sorry to bother you but there is someone at the door dressed like Big Bird and he — or it — insists on seeing you right now.”

“Sir, pardon the interruption. One of our valued associates, former State Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers, is in my office and I am sure you understand … Hello? Hello? Can you believe that? The guy just hung up on me! I never got a chance to tell him about the talking frog. OK, Chip. What’s the matter now?”

“Teya, I am trying to be a team player here but why must I continue to wear this doggone Big Bird outfit? I am an executive producer — community jobs program. I’m still not sure what that means but I don’t think it means letting kids crawl all over me and leave sticky lollipops in my feathers. Just look at these feathers.”

“Chip, we’ve had this conversation before. And please get your feathers out of my face. We agreed to disguise you as Big Bird until we can find something substantive for you to do. Our donors are pretty upset with us right now and we’ve got a bunch of talking frogs to get rid of. “

“Teya, would you quit worrying about whiny donors? I am not costing them a dime. My $150,000-a-year salary, if I may remind you, is being funded totally by the taxpayers of Georgia. It’s not like they can’t afford it. After all, the legislature has cut public education funding by a billion dollars. “

“Please don’t remind me of that.”

“I am paid way more than the governor. I’ll bet Nathan Deal doesn’t have to walk around all day dressed as Big Bird.”

“Look, do you think I enjoy the controversy your appointment has caused? When I took this job, I thought it would mean free tickets to a Smokey Robinson concert and guest appearances on Antiques Roadshow. Instead, I spend all my waking hours dealing with a bunch of angry donors, a wiseacre columnist who loves to jerk your chain and a warehouse full of talking frogs. Can you believe I left CNN for this?”

“C’mon, Teya. I am as frustrated as you are. I was once a power in this state. I was somebody. Senate majority leader. A cable television sports handicapper who predicted the outcome of football games. Surely, you remember ‘Will the Winner,’ aka the ‘Atlanta Assassin’? I was good, Teya. Real good.”

“Chip, I’m sorry. I really am.”

“And remember the motel that Tom Graves and I owned in Calhoun? It tanked because we let a bank loan us more money than we could repay. Doesn’t everybody? The default on the loan caused the bank to collapse and got us a lot of bad publicity. Despite that, Tom Graves gets elected to Congress where he talks about fiscal responsibility like he has a clue. Me? I’m sitting here dressed as Big Bird with lollipops in my feathers. Sometimes, I could just cry.”

“Chip, I wish we could continue this conversation but those talking frogs are beginning to smell.”

“People haven’t heard the last of Chip Rogers. No sirree. As my hero Spiro Amburn pointed out, the world is full of ‘pusillanimous pussyfooters’, ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’ and ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history’ and I won’t let them get me down.”

“I think you mean Spiro Agnew, who was Nixon’s vice president. Spiro Amburn is House Speaker David Ralston’s chief of staff. I don’t think Mr. Amburn says weird stuff like that.”

“Really? I could have sworn it was Spiro Amburn. I guess I’ve been out of office longer than I thought.”

“Chip, this has been a meaningful dialogue. Why don’t you go back to your office and see if you can come up with an idea you think will justify your bloated salary. In the meantime, please stop by Wanda’s desk and pick up some talking frogs and send them to that wiseacre columnist with my compliments. Maybe they can talk him into writing about something other than this mess.”

“Gee. Thanks, boss. You’re the best. I knew you could help. Can I give you a lollipop?”

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.