Original Grocery Ads reader Sam Kranzthor always had a healthy curiosity about life and how things worked. Sam was always telling the staff about new hobbies and ideas that sparked his interest–he and wife Kathy took tango lessons, he volunteered as an electrician and handyman at JazzFest, he loved to travel and particularly enjoyed visiting exotic locales where different cultures and traditions could be incorporated into his own life. So It wasn’t much of a surprise when he told us he was going on hiatus for a while because he wanted to pursue a new dream: he’d bought a dilapidated building to renovate so that he and Kathy could open a bed and breakfast. Naturally, they would do all the work themselves. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t leave much time for anything else.
We understood and affectionately wished him luck, but now there was a hole to fill. Reading the Grocery Ads had always been Sam’s special project, and trying to persuade a new reader (or even an experienced one) to attempt getting through the pages and pages of items on the colorful Times-Picayune circulars in an hour was daunting, plus most volunteers were a little wary of trying to fill the shoes of such a popular reader. Enter Melinda and Marie.
Melinda and Marie auditioned together, and explained that they really wanted to read together, too. Best friends for years, they had worked side by side as secretaries at the same company and were now retired, and were looking for a way to use their boundless energy and desire to give back to the community by volunteering. They wanted to know: could we use them? And could we use them as a team?
When taking over the Grocery Ads was proposed, Marie and Melinda jumped at the chance. They both loved to cook and entertain, and the idea of sharing their interest in food and recipes was an immediate draw– plus, they relished the idea that they would be helping our listeners figure out the best buys and how to use them in planning their meals for the week. Sam had added his own flair to the show, and M & M’s desire to add a little “flavor” of their own was given our blessing.
From the start, it was a success. Willowy, blonde, green eyed Melinda had a droll, measured delivery that focused on efficiency and the importance of saving money. Petite, dark eyed, bubbly Marie loved to reminisce about her mother’s cooking and all the recipes she wanted to try. The yin and yang of their banter became an instant hit, and we started receiving calls praising the new readers and the addition of the food columns to the mix. Our audience also loved the familiarity between the two that gave the program an unexpected jolt of humor. I’ll never forget one Halloween discussion: Marie cheerfully describing the fanciful new types of pumpkins available for use as fall decorations (“They have the regular orange ones and the different kinds of squash you can use, but they even have something called ghost pumpkins! And gray ones! And white ones! I think that would look fantastic on our porch…!”) After a 5 second pause of silence, Melinda shut it down simply by saying, “Wait, GRAY? For a pumpkin?? Nuh uh. No way. And I don’t like those white pumpkins, either. ” End of discussion.
Next entry: Part 3– Marie goes solo.