It Still Boils Down to Personal Contact: Thank You, Cal Poly!

Marconi Society

By Hatti Hamlin

How often are we reminded that despite all our high tech tools of communication, the best way to get something done is to reach out to someone personally?

Our newest Marconi Fellow, Dr. Brad Parkinson, was scheduled to be interviewed on May 20th on NPR’s Science Friday (you can read more about the interview here). Despite the full-court-press efforts of NPR’s producer and our efforts as well, finding a broadcast quality phone connection near Dr. Parkinson’s home for a telephone interview proved elusive. In the end, the interview was slated to take place via Parkinson’s home phone line.

But Prof. Parkinson had a last minute inspiration—and called his friend, Dr. Jeffrey Armstrong, a bocce ball teammate in the San Luis Obispo area. Dr. Armstrong also happens to be president of California Polytechnic State University. Although a team of people had tried to find an available line at Cal Poly for the call to take place, we’d been unsuccessful at connecting with the right people.

With less than two hours to go before the live interview, Dr. Armstrong set his staff on the task—and lined up a pure Internet connection and studio setting that provided the highest quality sound possible. The Cal Poly engineer, Thomas Morales, made time in a crunched schedule to pull everything together, and Tim Black, a member of Dr. Armstrong’s staff, went above and beyond to coordinate getting Dr. Parkinson to and from the studio. Listening to the interview, you would have thought Dr. Parkinson was in the same room with Ira Flatow, who actually was on the other side of the continent.

We want to thank Cal Poly, Dr. Armstrong, and his outstanding staff for helping out. It’s a strong reminder that sometimes, personal contact is the best—and maybe the only—way to get something done.