Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who DOESN'T Want to Be a Millionaire Index

Here's an index for the Millionaire Experience, so you don't have to read through all the posts. This will get updated as new installments are posted.

The next trip report will start appearing on here in the coming month.

Initial Qualifying

Did He Make It?

How to Shave Ten Years Off Your Life



@#^$%&@$% Stack!

The Carnage Afterward

Who DOESN'T Want to Be a Millionaire, Part 5: GAME ON!

Dan gets going in his continuing effort to win the big money. He flies through the questions but likes to converse in between. The producers said they'd edit out the unnecessary stuff, but those of us in the ring were getting impatient. We wanted our chance!

Dan takes a chance at the $125,000 and misses it. It was interesting to see how it worked, because Regis could not say the word "mitochondria" for anything! After Dan was done, they brought him back into the hot seat so Regis could re-read the question. It took about 6 takes...every time he got to mitochondria, he'd flub it up, and they'd stop the tape. Finally, on the last try, he got it right. Dan tried sneaking in "I'll say...(correct answer). Not missing a beat, Regis screams "WRONG!!!!", which got every busting up laughing.

Regis heads off-stage while they prepare for the fastest finger. Someone comes on-stage to keep the audience engaged. After they get the prompter ready for Regis, he comes back, and we face our first fastest finger (say that 5 times fast!).

Put these movies in order of release, starting with the earliest:

First Wives Club

Earth Girls Are Easy

What Women Want

(I don't remember the order on the show...once I find my copy of it, I'll edit this part a bit)

I knew that Tootsie was in the 80s, the First Wives club was some time in the 90s, and What Women Want was fairly recent. Earth Girls Are Easy…no flippin idea! Okay…where to put it…sounds somewhat older, so maybe I should puQUIT THINKING AND GET AN ANSWER IN NOW!!!

PRESS…PRESs…PRESS…PRESS…CRAP!!! The third one didn't take…backspace…PRESS…SUBMIT!!

I looked down, and I put Earth Girls Are Easy first…

…I'm not feeling too confident about that one.

Wait for the rest of the 20 second time frame to finish up….....

This takes absolutely forever…the wait is excruciating! The boom camera moves over to our side of the ring of fire, so that means one of us got it. Nope…no way it's me…unless nobody else knew it. I look over at Allan Hackney, next to me, and we both let out this huge exhale.

Regis calls the time up and gives the standard "let's look at the correct order…"

My pulse was somewhere around 436.

Earth Girls Are Easy
The First Wives Club
What Women Want

Oh well.

Right next to me, Allan is celebrating…good for him! They stop the taping to validate the answers and make sure nothing malfunctioned. They also brought Allan's significant other to the chair behind where he would be sitting (all the people that came with the contestants were sitting together near the top of the studio).

After validating that Allan got it and getting everything situated, they start taping again, and Allan starts his journey. I paused for a moment, realizing that very few people have seen the show from this perspective.


Now, the "stack" of questions that is selected for you means EVERYTHING. When I watched Kevin Olmstead go through the stack, I realistically could have seen myself making it to the $125,000 level with that one (not saying that Kevin had an easy stack at all…just that I had an interest in the categories of questions that he had). I bring this up because I would have been in HUGE trouble with Allan's stack. Everyone has decent knowledge on something, but everyone also has a "blind spot" in their knowledge where you simply don't know a question that 98% of the others would consider easy. I simply did NOT know what putting the kibosh on something meant (Allan's $200 question). There were a couple of others…I had no idea who Andre Braugher was (the answer to his $16,000 question), for example.

Allan got to the $125,000 level really quickly, even with a break for scheduled commercials…remember that we all agreed not to mess around with stalling. He phoned a friend for help on figuring out what country Alberto Fujimori ran. His phone-a-friend wasn't able to help, and Allan took a chance and incorrectly guessed. He walked with $32,000.

Another break as they got Allan and his significant other off the stage and in the back-stage where he could relax and watch the rest of the taping. The rest of us in the Ring talked to each other (we all got along, even though we knew we would be battling in a few moments).

Regis comes back on-stage, and we're ready to start taping again.

"Put the follow airlines in geographic order, starting with the north."

As he started to repeat the question, my mind went into overdrive. I immediately thought "SwissAir and Air New Zealand." It was geography AND it was flight-related, so I knew that this would likely be my best chance.





I didn't even notice that they mis-spelled Quantas. Finair..FINLAND…close to Switzerland. Qantas…Aussies…far south. Alitalia is Italy, and Lufthansa is in Germany. Germany is north of Italy…PRESS A…PRESS C…PRESS B…PRESS D…pause for the briefest of looks to make sure the answers registered. I had one thumb over the BACK button and one over the SUBMIT button.


The heart-rate is now over 844. I simply look down…the 20 seconds takes even longer, especially as I hear the boom camera move over to our side again. I knew my answers are correct – the only question is whether someone else got them quicker or not. I continue looking at the screen in front of me, begging time to move just a bit faster.

Regis announces that he's going to give us the correct answer. We all turn to the jumbo screens to see.

Finnair (yeah…keep going)

(I think I started holding my breath about this time)

(yeah…show who got it first)


"Let's see who got the correct order first"

The first thing I notice is that there was quite a bit of green…I wasn't the only one to get it correct. (still holding my breath)

My time…right around 4.5 seconds. I couldn't even look at the other times, because I see my name start flashing.

I let out this huge "WHOOP!" as I jump out of the chair (I am no longer holding my breath). I run up, shake Regis's hand, and we walk to the center of the stage.


Crap…forgot about the validation.

I look over at Sheri, who is being escorted to the significant other chair, and we just give a big smile at each other. They give me a glass of water, throw on a little more makeup, and I think they have me do a mike check. The validation checks out, and a producer comes out and reminds me how to get in the chair. He then tells me to look up at the screen. On there, they have me frozen, starting to head to the chair (when they were taping a couple of minutes ago). I have my head down and my right hand in front of me as I had just released the handshake. The producer looks at me and tells me that I need to get into that pose, which looks like I'm playing Twister or doing the robot. We all start laughing for a minute…it was good as it broke the tension a bit. I get into the pose, and the producer gets everyone quiet for a minute as he gives a couple of instructions to the booth. Regis is right next to me, whispering "2.17 million…it could be yours…you can do it!" I'm trying to keep my balance while at the same time trying not to throw up AND respond to Regis with a barely-audible "yep".

The audience starts clapping, and we're rolling tape again!

I get in the hot seat and start calming down a bit. I could tell that Regis just did not like saying my name…it was always "Chris….pause….Mush…rush." He cracks a joke about Normal Illinois being quite normal. They were able to use the headline from The Pantagraph and had a good laugh about that. He talks to Sheri for a second and then does the trademark "Let's Play…Who WANTS to BE a MILLionAIRE, with Chris….pause….Mush…rush."

I look at the water sitting next to the console and contemplate downing the entire glass in one gulp. Cotton-mouth hit me. Those of you who have seen the show probably noticed me pursing my lips all throughout the experience. No time to do it because the lights went down a little, and the music stopped.

Wow…eerie…for the first 5 questions, it's deathly silent in there. They edit in the music in post-production. I try not to let that get to me…I'm more worried about getting something about a kibosh on the $100 question.

$100…An orchestra is led by how many conductors?



Ask Mozart

I let out a chuckle on "Ask Mozart" and say it exactly as they told us to: 'A', 'One', 'Final Answer'

Okay…got that one out of the way…I immediately calm down a little, and the experience becomes like a video game.


Something about a high jumper

I snickered at the hot lava and mentioned that it would be more interesting if it were lava, but the correct answer was Bar.


Which of the following is both a Roman God and a television show?

This one was one of those questions that threw some people…luckily, the stack was favorable for me, and it didn't trip me up. Titus was out of the way.


Where would you find a control tower?

I'm on a roll…$1,000 here I come!


An area of land known as a 'plain' has very few what?

I had "mountains" in my head before I saw the choices. It has to be…plains are usually really flat! 'Rocks' pops up as the first choice.

Hmmmm…well, rocks could be a possible answer! I'll go with rocks.

Then 'trees' comes up. Uh oh. Trees seems like the right answer, but I just couldn't get 'rocks' out of my head (groan). Recalling that the audience led two people astray yesterday AND the average age of the audience is approximately 7.8 years, I decide to burn my "Ask the Audience" lifeline – I make a major mistake, however in saying "I think the answer is C: Trees…but…". Of course, I inadvertently biased the audience. Over 80 percent of the audience picked "trees", which made me look like a complete moron! As I answer, Regis shrugs his shoulders at me and raises his eyebrows. I kind of nod to him as I acknowledge the audience, as though I knew I may have burned a lifeline early. Still, I feel like I made an okay decision. When I talked to Kevin Olmstead after we taped (he had to stick around as he was the carry-over contestant), he fully agreed that it was not a great question. In hindsight, what I should have done was ask for a clarification and verify that rocks could not imply hills or mountains, which was legal. Still, I got to $1,000 and couldn't leave with less.

I take a deep breath and get ready for the next set of questions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who DOESN’T Want to Be a Millionaire, Part 4: AAAACCKKK!!!

We had one day to get everything ready. This was going to be a problem because we were closing on a house and moving on a Friday. Considering we were to leave on Tuesday and return on Thursday, it made for a somewhat stressful time, even without the knowledge that I was going to be on a game show!

I had to get my phone a friend list in order. We were allowed to have 5 names in there. We were still down at Disney World when I got this information, so I had a couple of days to think about this. I wanted to make sure that I had my bases covered in all the areas. I decided on this list:

  1. Al Goldfarb, Former Provost of Illinois State University (current President of Western Illinois University). He served as Dean of Fine Arts at ISU, so I could use him for questions on the arts. He also hailed from New York City, so, along with giving me information on things to do in NYC, he could answer questions about the Big Apple. There was one potential problem, however. He had a meeting at the same time the taping was scheduled with the University President and Vice-Presidents. He said they'd get a phone in there, and I requested a conference phone so they all could help answer the question LOL. There was a running joke at ISU for a few months afterwards, where, if I called him, 3 things would happen: 1) we both talk so fast that we could answer 4 questions in the 30 seconds allotted; 2) he would say that the answer was E. Educating Illinois (Educating Illinois is the strategic plan that Dr. Goldfarb spearheaded during this time…it was the buzzword for everything); or 3) after I give the possible answers, he'd bring up the time I voted against his proposal on academic governance during a Senate meeting and hang up on me.

  2. Neil Skaggs, Economics Professor at ISU. Neil was going to be my religion go-to as well as the guy for sports (despite the fact that he's a Cardinals fan, he still knows his stuff). I also had him set up in my mind as a current events guy, just in case. Neil's challenge was that he was to teach during part of the time frame that the show was to tape.

  3. Michele Finley, my high school English teacher. Literature was NOT my strong subject, as she could attest to. I rocked on the math components of the ACT and SAT. Verbal, however…ugh. I was going to lean on her big-time for anything literature-related.

  4. Steve Haase, friend and veterinarian. Steve was going to be my biology/science guy as well as my German/Europe guy as he has traveled there a couple of times.

  5. Peter Geddeis, friend and undergrad classmate at ISU. Pete and I shared a wall on the 5th floor of Hamilton Hall on the ISU campus. When we both were in the room at the same time Jeopardy was on, one of us would hear the other's TV tuned to it (the walls were thin), and we'd both end up watching it. Eventually, a contest would break out, where we'd shout the answers to each other. We both knew about the same amount (Pete knew a few more than I did), but he was ALWAYS faster than me by a good .25-.50 seconds (pissed me off all the time!). At the time of the taping, Pete was a grad student, and he was working on helping run the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Pete was a backup fine arts guy as well as a current events and general knowledge go-to.

I got my classes covered for Wednesday, and we were off to New York the following morning. We landed at LGA early in the afternoon and had a limo service waiting for us (first time…kewl). All the contestants were staying at the Empire Hotel, located at 63rd and Broadway…right by Columbus Circle. We checked in and had a packet waiting for us. There were what seemed to be a few hundred more forms to sign as well as instructions to meet at a certain suite in the hotel later on in the evening. We decided to do a little sight-seeing before the meeting, so we headed down Broadway towards the Theatre District. After about 10 blocks, we walked past the Ed Sullivan Theater, where a long line had formed for the taping of Letterman. We continued down to Times Square and looked around at the hustle and bustle. Holy crap it was crazy!!! I recall wanting to live in a big city my whole life…standing in Times Square made me reconsider this.

We hopped into a sandwich shop and grabbed a bite to eat before making our way back to the hotel. As we were walking back, we hear a commotion up ahead. As we crossed a street, we walked by the Chippendales, who were heading the other direction. I nudged Sheri to let her know what was passing by, and her tongue hit the pavement. She nearly turned around to follow them. I was hoping the Playboy Bunnies were right behind them, but, alas, they weren't. To this day, Sheri still brings this up in conversation.

We got back to the hotel for the meeting, where we met the rest of the contestants for the show. We all made a pact to just answer the questions without going into long stories. We also joked with the show hand about hand signals to help the guy in the hot seat. When we asked about what the jackpot was at, the show hand refused, despite our best efforts to torture it out of him (he was a nice guy…we had fun with him). We brought the clothes that we anticipated to wear to make sure they wouldn't make the tv screens across the nation go all wobbly and got a rundown on what to expect tomorrow. We also got our per diem ($50/day for 3 days). After talking with each other for a while longer, we disbanded and headed back for what we hoped for a good night's sleep. Some headed back to study…I felt that doing something like that would be fruitless as I would likely forget anything I read at this point. We make a couple phone calls back home, watch a little TV, and attempt to get to bed early. Neither of us were used to the constant drone of sirens from police/ambulance/etc, so it took a while to actually fall asleep.

We had an early morning on the day of the taping. I felt really bad for one of the contestants, who was from Hawaii. It was something like Midnight to his body as we were waking up. We wake up, and I grab a shower. I then realize that, in the insanity of the past 48 hours, I forgot to pack deodorant. Considering I'd probably be sweating buckets all day (no stress at all!), I had to temporarily displace my masculinity and apply Secret (Hey, they say it's strong enough for a man). Sheri still brings this up in conversation too. At the appointed time, we headed down for a shuttle to the studio, which, surprisingly, was only 3 blocks away. We arrived at the ABC studios somewhere around 7:45 in the morning and went through our first security screening. We had a meeting and turned in our list of "phone a friends." We then had to make sure that we did not have any sort of aids for the show (basically, we couldn't have anything that may help us in the studio). Since I was a doctoral student at the time of the taping, I brought some books with me to read for my classes (College Administration...a lot of material there?!). I didn't realize that I had one of the books stuffed in the bag that I brought to the studio, and, naturally, it was found. All the contestants, partners, and ABC staff had a good laugh at that (they still took the book, though).

We then met with the producers and had a short continental breakfast. During this time, we tried to expand a little on our "lives" so that they could use the information and put it on the "blue card" that Regis Philbin has in front of him (he looks at this for the bantering between questions). After that, we got to visit the studio where the show taped and saw where we were going to sit (no audience yet). It was almost surreal when we walked in. Most of the lights weren't on, but we still felt a sense of awe, until we walked on the floor. The glass where the mirrors and lights are seemed like fairly thick plexiglass…it had some give to it as we walked on it. The directors told us the best way to enter our responses for the fastest finger round and then gave us five examples. There were 20 of us there as they were taping 2 shows that day. The second show's contestants played around in the gallery while we tested stuff out. The fastest finger question is not exactly what you saw on TV. The question was asked and then repeated (the second reading is edited out). Then the contestants in what we affectionately call the "Ring of Fire" had twenty seconds to try to figure out the proper order. As anyone who has ever been in the Ring can attest, it's nowhere near as easy to input your answers as you might think! And, to you Disney freaks, what you saw at WTTBAM/PI at Studios…nope…not the same thing. You have to push a button and let go, then press the next button, etc...then you have to press a "Submit" button (I wonder how many people missed getting into the hot seat simply because they forgot to submit their answers). I royally screwed up the first sample round, but I got my bearings and won the second fastest finger sample question (a geography question...remember this).

After we played around in the studio (we even learned the proper way to get into and out of the hot seat), we left our significant others and went back to where our stuff was and changed clothes. Then we went through make-up and got wired with our mikes. We met the carry-over contestant, Dan Orr, and it was then that we found out that nobody had hit the jackpot yet (when I was on, they went a long time without a million dollar winner, so they started adding $10,000 for every episode with no winner). We would be playing for $2,170,000!!!! We all pumped Dan for information on what it was like, and he said that the people yesterday were dumb and that the audience screwed up 2 people because they were so young.

After a little nervous smalltalk, we made our way to the now-dark and packed studio and were introduced to the audience...the first thing that we noticed was that this place looked awesome with the smoke and light effects. The second thing we noticed was that Dan was correct…the audience was YOUNG today too! It was spring break, and a lot of students had tickets to the show. I think we all noticed that -- I talked to Allan Hackney, who was seated next to me, and we agreed that we'll likely have to use the "ask the audience" lifeline early. Before we knew it, there was a call that they were going to start taping in just a minute. A director for the audience had one main job: get the crowd to whoop and holler on cue. He gives the signal, and the place just erupts with noise!!! A couple of seconds later, Dan Orr comes out with Regis right next to him! This was the first time we've seen him, so we're all just as excited as the audience was.

The game…is…on!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Victory Garden (?), April 25

Well, we're a week past the first round of planting, and, despite my best efforts, it looks like things are growing, other than rocks and weeds! We get a good amount of wind between the houses, so I planted the seeds a bit lower than usual in an effort to keep the seeds in the ground. I was afraid that I had planted them too deeply, because nothing germinated in the first 6 days (I'm impatient). We got a lot of continuous rain for several days, starting the evening I planted everything, so I was also worried a bit about the seeds rotting.

Things are looking good. The radishes have germinated and are showing me just how un-straight my row is. The lettuce and spinach are a bit spotty, but this is expected, as the planting depth is a little more varied, but they are pushing through. I fully expected the onions to pop up within 3-4 days, but I'm using a different variety this year for the first time, and it might take a bit longer. I examined the soil and found the vast majority are growing...they're right at the top of the soil and starting to push through. The only thing that hasn't popped through yet is the cabbage.

No picture this week and no planting...I had hoped to get another row of spinach/lettuce out, but it can wait a couple more days.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Who DOESN’T Want to Be a Millionaire, Part 3 (How to Shave 10 Years Off of your Life)


We knew that if the cell phone rang, it was going to be someone from the show (that or a wrong number), because nobody else had the number.  About an hour and a half after I finished the round, the cell phone rang!!!!  After a momentary breathing stoppage and a vault from my chair through the ceiling, I answered it...NOBODY WAS THERE!!!!!  In fact, the weirdest thing in-laws' answering machine started playing on the other end.  I nearly panicked, thinking that I had somehow programmed the cell-phone to forward all calls to my in-laws' number (of course, I didn't bring the manual for the phone to change it).  I immediately started kicking myself, thinking that I had blown it.

Sheri, who was asleep when the phone rang, sat up, questioning the stunned look on my face as I frantically decided what to do.  I was especially stunned because they said that they would call one time.  I hung up, told Sheri what had happened, and said a silent prayer for them to call back.










I think I broke the record for answering a phone when it rang again.  I managed to mutter a "hello?" into the phone, fully expecting "Hi, you have reached the Miller residence.  We can't come to the phone right now..."  Alas!  There was a human voice on the other end asking for me.  He identified himself as a producer from 'Millionaire' and immediately asked if I was close to a land line.  I gave him the hotel and room number, hung up, looked at Sheri, and, as though nothing had happened, said, "It's Millionaire."

I cannot tell you what Sheri said after that.

After approximately 14,000 questions on qualifications, the joyful words "Congratulations!  You are now a finalist for 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' were finally heard. The same 14,000 questions were asked to Sheri, as she was to be my companion for the trip.


After about 45 minutes of talking with the producer, I called my parents.  My mother was not home.  I called my father's house and broke the news.  My step-mother let out a little scream and told my sisters, who had just gotten home from school.  The next thing I heard in the background was Casey, my youngest sister (in 8th grade), saying "NO WAY!"  This was shortly followed by my middle sister (Jamie...a sophomore in high school) asking if I could take her to New York.  She promised to wear her cheerleading outfit and root for me on the side during the fastest finger questions.

We then called Sheri's folks, who also were not home.  Sheri left a message to have them give us a call (emphasizing that it was NOT an emergency and that everything was okay).

Since the tape date was in the middle of the following week, I needed to start planning on getting my classes covered.  The tape date was going to be squeezed in to an already packed schedule.  We were to get back from Orlando on the 18th., leave for New York on the 20th., return on the 22nd., and close on our new house and move on the 23rd.

I called Illinois State University and talked to them for a good half hour.  I started with the Department of Economics, who let me know what all needed to be done for my job.  I then had them transfer me to the Graduate School, where I left a message with Pat Schnitker, advisor for the Graduate Student Association and friend.  I was then forwarded to the President's office to let Vic Boschini, ISU President, know that he was going to get a little free publicity on national television.  He was out of town, but I talked with his secretary and asked her to forward me to the Provost's phone so I could ask him to be a phone-a-friend.  He was not there, so I asked his secretary to forward me to media relations to give them a heads-up in case anyone contacted them about it.  Jay Groves, media relations director was not in, so I left a message and then FINALLY ended one hell of an intense phone call.

About fifteen minutes later, Pat calls back from the graduate school, screaming with delight.  She let the entire office know, and everyone else was screaming in the background.  I got off the phone with her, and the phone immediately rang was Jay Groves this time.  Jay congratulated me and asked if I wanted him to do anything.  I simply asked him what should and what should not be said about ISU.  His reply was to simply enjoy it and mention whatever I wanted about the University.  We both agreed that something with the ISU logo would be good, but the ABC rules forbade anything copyrighted to be worn.

I think Jay smelled publicity for the school as soon as he heard my message.  He called back about twenty minutes later and mentioned that WJBC, the AM radio station for central Illinois, was going to call soon, followed by The Pantagraph, the local paper.  Within 20 minutes, I found myself on the air with WJBC. What seemed like seconds after I hung up with them, the phone rings again, and I answered questions for the reporter from The Pantagraph. Afterwards, we talked to Sheri's parents, who immediately called back, despite our efforts to reassure them that nothing was wrong. We also got a call from my father, who had just gotten home from work and had heard the news.

After over two hours of insane phone conversations, we both decided to skip the fireworks at EPCOT and head down to the hotel bar for a couple of MUCH-needed drinks.  We came back and tried to fall asleep, but the phone rang one more time that night:

Me: Hello?

Mom: Hi Honey. I got your message that you called.

Me: Yeah...I've got some good news that you probably aren't going to believe.

Mom: Is Sheri Pregnant?!!!!!


(Me: dumbfounded pause…didn't even think about that, with all the messages)

Me: No...not that good news.

Mom: Oh. Then what is it?

Me: All I will say is 'is that your final answer?'

Mom: Huh?  What the Hell is that supposed to mean?

Me: Do you watch tv much?

Mom: Yeah.

Me: Is that your final answer?!!!

Mom: I don't get it.

Me: Have you ever heard that before?

Mom: Yes.

Me: Where?

Mom: On that one show...<pauses> "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'.

Me: Yyyeeeeesssssssssss?

Mom:  <dead silence for a good ten seconds, then>  YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE??!!!!!!

Me: Yyyeeeeesssssssssss!



She always wanted me to try out for Jeopardy, but I never did. We talk for a bit longer and then hang up, as she had about 400 calls to make to tell everyone she knew. I think she randomly called a few strangers too and told them.


The next several days in the Disney parks were a complete blur. I was so stressed with everything going on that I missed nearly everything in the parks. I remember being in MGM a couple of days later, and we ate at the ABC Commissary. They were heavily promoting the new Millionaire attraction that was to be opening soon. The cast member working the register asked if I watched the show, and I just busted up laughing. When I explained it to her what was so funny, I don't think she believed us. These 2 teenage girls behind us, however, were floored and spent the entire meal sitting 3 tables away and staring at us, smiling the entire time. I had my own set of groupies for all of 15 minutes. As they got up to leave, they stopped and asked us about getting on the show, when it was going to be on, etc. After a final "good luck!", they headed out, leaving us with about 4 other tables nearby now staring at us.


We took an earlier flight home and flew standby for an earlier connecting flight…it was a good thing as Detroit was getting quite a bit of snow and was scheduled to get more around the time our actual connection was to leave. When we got back home, we had fourteen phone messages in three days (we don't get that many in 2 months) as well as nearly 250 e-mails.  Several friends and family dropped off copies of the article from the paper.  We didn't have time to do much, though, because we had to pack both the house for the move as well as ourselves for the trip to New York.  Luckily we had one business day to prepare, because I had to get my phone-a-friends ready!!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Who DOESN’T Want to Be a Millionaire? (Part 2: Did He Make It?)

The semi-final round is similar in format to the first round - but there would be five questions instead of three.  I was given a specific fifteen-minute window to call in on March 14th in order to take the semi-final round of questions.  I immediately discovered that this round was going to be interesting because it was to occur while we were going to be on vacation down in Orlando...probably while we would be screaming on an attraction at Disney World (more likely, while we were looking at a map and wondering what to do next…it was our very first trip down there).  We decided to take our cell-phone, which had never been used for incoming calls (we actually had to look at old phone bills to figure out what the phone number was) in case we were at a park or in traffic when the call-in window arrived.

I had to look like a fool at Disney World, because my pockets were absolutely bulging with things.  A quick inventory of my pockets included:

  • Wallet.
  • Cell Phone
  • Palm Pilot -had phone number and PIN information
  • keys
  • maps
  • bottled water
  • camera

We even bought a fanny pack to hold some of this, but I would have looked like even more of a fool wearing that!

As luck would have it, we were both exhausted from the flight down there, the previous day at the Magic Kingdom, and the morning at EPCOT.  We decided to head back to the hotel where Sheri could rest and I could take the test without worrying about losing the signal on the cell phone.  The time came, and I started the test.  There is another slight difference in this round from the first round - in the first round, if you missed a question, you were told so, and the round stopped; in the semi-final round, it let you answer all five questions without telling you whether you got it right or not.

I answered the questions as best as I could...I was very confident I nailed four of the five, and I made an educated guess on the last question (I knew the order of three of the selections, and did my best on where to put the fourth one in the order).  They wanted a phone number that I could be contacted at over the next four hours in case I made the final "on-air" round.  Not knowing if we would head back to EPCOT or not, I gave them the cell-phone number.

And the waiting began...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who DOESN’T Want to Be a Millionaire?!! (Part 1: Initial Qualifying)

We're going to take a short break from the Disney discussion. For those who want more WDW, don't worry, I promise there's tons more coming!

Okay...first, let me put this disclaimer in that I am living proof that ANYTHING can happen!!! Every 5-6 months, I'll get a bunch of e-mails/phone calls or, more recently, messages via Facebook from people saying that they just saw me on TV. I immediately groan and think to myself, "Here we go again!" Every semester, the cat is somehow let out of the bag by someone in the class, and they beg me to bring in a copy of what happened long ago, one calm April night in 2001. You've never experienced embarrassment until you project yourself into a lecture hall, where the image is over 20 feet tall…your nose hairs look like part favors at that size!

Many people have yet to see my experience on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and have asked me to share what it was like. Here's the first installment of WWTBAM…

I have always been a trivia buff, and my mother has always tried to get me to try out for a game show to see what I can do. I always figured I'd try when I was middle-aged and probably end up on something like 'Win Ben Stein's Money.'

When 'Millionaire' first hit the airwaves, I fell in love with it and tried calling in a few times to qualify. For those who do not know the procedure back then, it involved answering a series of three questions similar to the "fastest finger" format. The questions became increasingly difficult as you progressed through them. I could never get that last question right. After about 5 days of trying, I gave up, content to watch the show and scream at the television when the contestants were having trouble (admit it, you do the same thing!).

School, work, and other commitments took over, and I was unable to watch the show much until the spring semester of 2001, when I had a couple nights off from class each week. The jackpot then was growing to nearly $2 million dollars, so I figured that I'd try to call in again just for fun. On my second day of calling, the magic hit...I finally got past the third question (a literary question, and I got it right!). I picked my choice of tape dates and a phone number to contact me in case I was randomly picked to make it to the next round. Apparently, around 2 million people call in every night to qualify, and approximately 50,000 people get all three questions right and pick a particular tape date per day...each day, the computer randomly picks 40 people to advance to the next round. Each tape date is available for 5 days, do, doing the math we get this: I had basically won the lottery in having the computer select me. Out of millions of people, I was now 1 of only 200 people vying for a shot to be on the show.

I jokingly told my wife I'd stay home from a home interior party "just in case Millionaire calls", not thinking I'd hear from the show. The phone rang, and someone claiming to be from 'Millionaire' hit me with a barrage of qualifying questions. I at first thought it was Sheri (my wife) and her friends joking around with me...until they started asking the questions. When Sheri got home from her party, she (as you could imagine) thought I was full of it when I showed her the information. I had made the semi-final round!!!!!

The next installment will chronicle the longest hour or so of my life…

Monday, April 20, 2009

Disney Podcasts 101 for Idiots

My students have always looked at me oddly, as I'm too old to be considered their peers but younger than their average professor. When they see me with the earbuds in and sauntering into the classroom before boring them to tears with economics lectures that they will soon forget, they jokingly like to play "what's on Mush's iPod", where they try to guess what I'm listening to.

Despite the fact that I've got a wide selection of music on the 16G Nano (5th generation, for those geeks who were about to ask), they've never correctly guessed what it is I'm currently listening to. Why? Because 80% of the time, I'm not listening to music; rather, it's a good ole podcast blasting in my ears and causing irreparable harm to my long-term hearing ability. My students' next question is always "which ones do you listen to?" Their reaction is always the same mix of "really?" and "I'm sorry I asked" when I tell them that most of them are Disney-related.

One of my alter egos had me as a moderator for a now-extinct Disney World BBS (Lodgeboards...LOVED that site), and I provided updates about Disney World to the masses (okay, it wasn't a large board, but large boards don't necessarily equate to better boards). The best way that I find information is to check out websites, listen to podcasts, and (just recently) receive tweets from Twitter (I'm cemushr over there if you want to follow me!). Occasionally, I'll be asked what podcasts I listen to. Because of this (for the 10 or so readers of this blog), I figured I'd give you some of the ones I frequent in case you might be interested in subscribing to them (yes, all are available via iTunes). I'm also (slowly) working on adding other podcasts and providing a short synopsis of each one so that you can be better-informed. While I may say a certain podcast is the "Best…", there are not any actual awards to be handed out (I'm not tenured, and I've got kids), nor am I slighting any who may not be listed (it's mostly because I probably haven't found 75% of the Disney-related podcasts out there).

Note that this list will be edited as more podcasts are discovered! The level of detail should not be used as an indication of how "good" a podcast is…it's more an indication of how well I know the podcast more than anything. If a podcaster would like to have their cast added (and I haven't found you yet), just let me know via a comment, and I'll add you in!

Soooooooooooo…without further ado, here we go!

This section is where many people get introduced to podcasting...they're planning a trip for the first time and want to get as much information as possible.

  • Be Our Guest is a podcast that has trip-planning episodes twice a week. Mondays include trip reports from listeners in audio format, and Fridays usually revolve around a panel discussion on the Walt Disney World experience. Episodes are hosted by Mike, Rikki, Pam, and Debbie and average around 30-40 minutes.

  • If you're looking for the Keys to the Kingdom, then head on over to the Keys to the Kingdom podcast. Kingdom Trips travel agents Mary and Jason True, along with co-host Karin Worth, release a couple of shows every month with trip planning advice for all things Disney-related (including DVC, DCL, WDW, Disneyland, and more). As Jason is outnumbered, he is often humorously on the defensive in most shows!

  • Next in the travel category is the Mouse Travel Tips podcast. hosted by the creators of, Rachel Pilgrim (with the occasional cameo by hubbie Ray), Mouse Travel Tips is a 15-20 minute show released about every week with tips, a showcase of a particular Disney attraction/area, and interesting tidbits about Disney.  This is one of the few "enhanced" podcasts, where pictures pop up during the discussion that are pertinent to what's being talked about...nice touch!

  • Up next is the Travelears podcast. Travelears is a good source for those planning trips to a Disney theme park as its lineup of hosts include a couple living near Disneyland, former cast members, one from Canada, one from Australia, a WDW aficionado, and a DVC member.

  • The WDW Today podcast. BEST OVERALL PODCAST!!! I started listening to this one around episode 110, and I've heard every one since then. Hosted by Matt Hochberg, owner of, Mike Newell, owner of mouseworldradio, Mike Scopa, a blogger at, Len Testa, co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and mastermind behind, and, recently added, Annette Owens, travel agent with Mousefantravel, each episode of this podcast is at just about a perfect amount of time…15-20 minutes, which, coincidentally, is my commute to work. What makes this podcast work so well is the interaction among the hosts. They know each other well enough that there is a lot of good-natured ribbing with each other that, if you've followed the podcast long enough, makes the dialogue always interesting and, at times, outright hilarious. Episode 414 has to be one of the funniest episodes they've done, where they chronicle trying to eat or drink one item native to every country pavilion in a short time-span. I swear I'll never walk through Canada again the same way. Every Wednesday is "Listener Questions" day, where they answer as many questions as they can in the show's time. The problem is that they are so popular that they can't keep caught up with the timeliness of the questions…quite often you'll hear a pause when reading a question about an upcoming trip and then a "Welcome back" after realizing the trip had alreay been taken. They do have a monthly live show to help answer questions for those who need answers in less than six months. This podcast tells it like it is without sugar-coating it. They aren't part of the "Disney Haters" crowd (nowhere near it), and they aren't part of the "Disney Can Do No Wrong" crowd (nowhere near it)…I think they're right down the middle in terms of their analysis of Disney, which I think is probably the most accurate. This is one of only a couple of podcasts that I listen to religiously and am actually caught up with.  I actually had a question answered on Episode 603 (sorry, Matt) Subscribe HERE.

    These are podcasts that take you through the parks using video cameras to bring you the attractions as though you were right there with them.

    • Above the Firehouse is classified as a combination audio/video podcast. It includes ride-thrus of attractions, interviews, friend meets, etc. This podcast is put together by Tony with occasional additions by "Jason in San Diego".

    • At The Main Street Cinema is run by Greg McNaughten. This one shows ride-thrus, night-time shows, meet-ups, and more. It includes both WDW and DL.

    • 'Sup? This next podcast features one of the two well-known "Lou's" in the Disney podcasting realm. Beyond Main Street is up next, hosted by Lou Moulton. This show has a long history, with 65+ shows under its belt (this was the first vidcast that I downloaded, several years ago). BMSLou gives his perspective of Disneyana via multiple avenues. The video shows often include video footage and/or excellent pictures of the primary item being discussed. Also in this feed is the "In Your Ears Experience", which, as you can imagine, is audio only. Occasionally you might be treated to some serenading from Sexy Rexy in an IYEE segment. Very Cool!

    • The Big D in HD. This one is shot in high-definition (in case you couldn't figure that one out). The HD feed is obviously amazing quality, but the file sizes are, as expected, huge and too much for my measly iPod. Still, I like to check out the videos on the laptop. While I have never checked it out, The Big D offers a standard definition feed. It's primarily Disneyland-based.

    • If you want HD video of the east coast park, look no further than Mouse Magic HD. Paul hosts this weekly podcast with shots from all around the world, from attractions to shows to fireworks name it!

    • One of the newer video casts out there is Disney's Park Hoppin' Party. This is hosted by two broadcasting powerhouses from the Sacramento/Chico area. "Electric" Mike Kelly is a long-time veteran of the entertainment industry, including stints as a morning radio host and musician. He owns his own recording studio. "Kiltboy" is the other host, though he also answers to Steve Micheals. Steve is a morning host for Chico's Oldies 102.1 during the week and shares Mike's love for Disneyland.
    • Magic City Mayhem. is done by Mikey the Errand Boy and gives around ten-minute short videos of the playground we all know as Orlando. It's not ALL Disney World, but there's a lot of video there from the Disney Theme Parks.

    WAIT A MINUTE!!!!! Aren't all the other podcasts classified as audio-only if they aren't video? By audio-only, I'm talking about audio from the theme parks. Yes, you read that right…these folks walk around the parks collecting audio for us to hear. Often, these podcasters use binaural microphones, which create stereo sound and, since they are placed right next to the ears when they are recording, we would hear exactly what they hear if we were right next to them. As cheesy as it sounds, you find yourself listening and remembering when you last heard those sounds. The commentary on these can be downright funny, if you get their sense of humor.
    • The one that started it all is the TrappedOnVacation podcast, hosted by "Earl", an anonymous cast member at WDW who, with his "bleepin' wife" (so-called because everything out of her mouth would have to be bleeped out to stay under a PG-13 rating) quite often have friends down to play in the theme-park capital of the world. It's not always a WDW park that they go to in their episodes, either, so you won't get overkill. For you Adventurer's Club fans, he has a string of several episodes in late 2008 paying homage to the now-closed attraction at Pleasure Island. Since I never had the opportunity to witness the A.C. myself, I loved listening to these episodes to see what I missed. A.C. fans will LOVE downloading these shows.

    • Next in line for this category is an off-shoot of Trapped. "Jeff from Houston" started taking some audio for Earl out in Anaheim, and he ultimately branched off to create the Meandering Mouse podcast. Jeff brings you audio from the theme parks all over the world and, using some witty sarcasm, presents the audio in a way that only he can. His "Saul" character has been known to nearly cause auto accidents to those hearing it for the first time (from laughing so hard). The audio quality that Jeff brings is sometimes unparalleled, where the "headphones strongly recommended" tag is included in nearly every episode to ensure you get the best experience. Subscribe HERE.

    • An interesting "perspective" audio podcast is The Adventures of a Teenage Disney Geek. Keegan records himself and his dysfunctional "SuperFamily" (including the ever-lovable Madison, Keegan's younger sister) all over the Disney Parks. Keegan is still a teenager yet he puts out some really good quality programming here! Subscribe HERE.

    • Completely flying in the face of the comprehensive podcasts (listed below), Matt gives us a bunch of Mouse Droppings. In what has to be one of the best play on words, the Mouse Droppings podcast simply "drops in" audio into your MP3 player every couple weeks instead of giving shows with periodic segments (and, no, you don't need to sanizite your iPod afterwards, though you may want to clean your earbuds once in a while). The description of the podcast mentions that video may also be included in the episodes. Currently, the website has Quicktime slideshows that go with the audio on the podcasts.

    • The smooth-voiced Paul Barrie hosts the Window to the Magic podcast, along with wife and fellow podcaster Tairy Rich. Most of the audio tends to come from Disneyland, and the production is done very well! I really like the sense of humor on this one…the April Fool's episodes are hilarious once you realize the slant they are going with. Main Feed: HD Video Feed: "Patrick-Hurd-Only" Shows:

    Many of these podcasts (but not all) usually start off with similar formats, which include sections on news and rumors. The differences among these podcasts lie in the remainder of the episodes. Some do interviews, others do skits. Some go really in-depth on attractions, while others perform reviews of the various things to do. Many of these are what I call "Perspective" podcasts, where the hosts inject their views into the discussion.
    • The All About the Mouse podcast was hosted by Bryan Ripper and Jonathon Dichter and was really user-friendly. They have their own fan club (the "AllAbouttheMouseketeers") whose members occasionally have the chance to win prizes. Their primary focus was Walt Disney World; however, they also discussed news pertaining to the Disney Company in general. This one is a weekly update.   FINAL SHOW: 07/31/2010
    • Betamouse is one of the newest podcasts for 2010 and features a powerhouse lineup of hosts. Henry Work, creator of the Lines application for, Disney lover and tech-geek Jeff Chaney, WEDWay Radio Podcast co-host Nate Parrish, Dizcollect founder Scott Barrett, and "Kidani" Katie Siloac form the roundtable for this show. On here, they provide weekly shows on the technology surrounding and/or running Disney. The shows last around 30-40 minutes.

    • Character Breakfast is a bi-weekly production that comes from the Sorcerer Radio crew. Its focus is Disney World and has a menagerie of podcasters, including "Sorcerer", who leads the crew and does the "rant of the week" section, "Imagine", who along with her husband, "Pluto", runs a segment called the Monorail Station, and "Jeff", who gives the news. Other segments of the show include music reviews, storytime, and restaurant reviews. Oh, and if you’re interested in a live Disney music show, check out the TikiRoomMorningShow every weekday from 8-9 Eastern over on Sorcerer Radio (link above) for Chris's morning show. He takes requests, and srsounds even has a chat that goes along with the show.

    • The Communicore Online podcast is a weekly perspective podcast of Shane Roberts. It's a shorter podcast for being comprehensive (30 minutes) and includes such segments as Hidden Mickeys, news with Lester Daye, Between my Ears (Shane's take on Disney topics), photo ops, rehabs/closures, Ears to the Ground (park audio), and more.

    • The DISCAST podcast is up next, featuring a somewhat more technical slant at the Disny parks. Hosted by Marc Silverman and former Cast Member Kyle Duffield, these podcasts run around 10-20 minutes.

    • For the next podcast, we're jumping across the pond to visit The Disney Brit podcast. Hailing as the only podcast based in the United Kingdom, this podcast provides news, trivia contests, interviews, and more, including one of the only places to provide focus and audio on Disneyland Paris. Hosted by Adam Goodger, DisneyBrit offers both a normal and an enhanced version of the show. Subscribe HERE.

    • Labeling themselves as the "garage band" of Disney podcasts, the Disney Dudes podcast brings you "Disney with an Edge!" This is one of the newer podcasts out there and is working on the segments to be included in its episodes. As they are so new, I don't know a lot about them, so I'm drawing from their web site. Wayne is no stranger to the Disney podcast world as he formerly was on the Mickey Room Podcast. Trace, married to Lisa from the Those Darn Cats podcast, was relatively new to podcasting but jumped into the Disney Podcasting Nation and hasn't looked back. Some know him as 999Ghosts or the guy with the blue goatee. His Disney "Street cred"  is that he is the Dallas/Fort Worth NFFC Chapter President.

    • This next one is about as comprehensive in one particular topic as I've ever seen…PIN TRADING! The Disney Pincast is hosted by John Rick, founder of the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. While I'm not a pin trader myself, I have friends who are, and I know how much they love this obsession. They discuss pin news, information on trading meets, upcoming releases, and more! This is another weekly podcast and has both a standard download as well as an enhanced .m4a download, which some MP3 players can handle and allow chapter perusal.  The neat thing about the enhanced shows are that they often include pics of the pins they are discussing. Warning: this podcast can be a rather long one.

    • Just across the state line from me is the location of the next podcast. It's Disney, Indiana, where the population is just 2: Tracey and Scott. This is another bi-weekly podcast and is easily one of my favorite shows. This podcast discusses books, movies, music, theme parks, video games, and whatever else in the "Disneyverse" they'd like to talk about. Episodes run around an hour. Aside from just the general fun, I think a lot of the allure of the show comes from the amount of research they do for the shows.  Included in most episodes is the Mortis, from the Mortis Matinee (listed below).  Most every episode also includes a musical interlude by the local DJ in Disney, Indiana...Buzzy. 
    • The Disney Royal Ladies podcast is the next one in the list. "Horizon" and Kathy, a Mother and daughter team, bring you their show every week or two...they've got an interesting format. Most shows have the usual news, rumors, and tips, but they also occasionally bring on interviews of people that are from the Disney realm.  Last Show: 02/12/2010

    • The Disney Tidbits podcast is brought to you by Tairy Rich of Little Red's Riding Hood.  Tairy is married to Paul Barrie of the WTTM podcast.  Each week, you get a short but in-depth knowledge base of a particular topic of Disneyana. Subscribe HERE.

    • A former Disneyland Cast member, "Greg", leads a perspective podcast called Imagineering My Way. Though a photographer by trade, he has a strong background in architecture and a strong love of Disney. In this podcast, he takes a critical look at what the Disney corporation has done in its theme parks, and he provides insight on why they may have done it as well as how it potentially could have been otherwise done. Yes, it is opinionated, but it is definitely thought-provoking with the content included. Segments of the show include a report card on attractions/hotels/restaurants, a "bulldozer" segment, DIY Imagineering, a time machine, and more.

    • Let's Talk About Disney. No, really…that's the name of the next podcast! Nashville natives Mike, Cindy, and Jana have a unique setup for their podcast. They carry on an online chat with their forum members as they do the podcast, and, as they start discussing topics, they work in the chat responses and reply to them. They are a monthly podcast, and they seriously talk about whatever topics their listeners (or they) come up with. It's definitely perspective in nature, and they like to have a good time bantering with each other. One regular segment that they do in their episodes is a segment on characters.  Last Show: 02/12/2010 Subscribe HERE.

    • Ricky Brigante provides a really good in-depth presentation of what's going on in his Inside the Magic podcast. It's actually kind of funny in that, as I'm finishing this list up, I got a tweet announcing Ricky's update to his blog, where he lists the podcasts that he still listens to. I almost hit "Delete" on this file for fear of everyone thinking that I was just copying off of him, but I decided that A) he probably has several hundred readers, none who read my blog; B) I had already typed up quite a bit and nearly suffered a conversion disorder when I reached for "Delete"; and C) they are very different lists. There actually is only one podcast overlap (WTTM, in the previous section), and I'm providing more of a "what's out there" list, since I'm guessing most of my handful of readers don't listen to podcasts very much. ANYWAYS (A.D.D. hitting again)…Inside the Magic is labeled as the first "Orlando-based Disney podcast" and one of the first Disney-related podcasts created. Like All About the Mouse above, it's a weekly release.

    • Starting the fully-populated lists of podcasts-that-start-with-'M' is Mr. Frank's Wild Ride Disney fanatic Frank Rogers is joined by Disney Mom's Panelist Margaret Fries and fellow Disney Fanatic Heather (aka DisneyBigSis in the "Twitterverse". This show is a part of the WDWNT network of shows and releases 1-2 episodes a month, each lasting 1-1.5 hours. Interviews, current events, some unique comedy bites (Mousterpiece Theatre, for example) and some really good transition music make up the bulk of this show.

    • Hosted by Jim Hill of and Nathan Rose of (home of Shandy the Sugar Glider), the Magical Definition podcast take you on a magical journey into Disney World. Since Jim Hill's one of the hosts, there has to be a rumor segment, along with news, interviews, and more, including a segment rather unique to this podcast: tips on photography in the parks.

    • Will and Shannon are two married Disney fans who came up with the Magic Never Ends podcast. Their iTunes description is perfect: "We are two Disney lovers that believe that the Disney Magic Never Ends. Whether at the Disney parks. Listening to Disney music. Watching a Disney movie or a Disney Channel show. There's magic everywhere! Are you willing to embrace it? What you will hear on our podcast is what we are. We act silly. We have fun. And we never ever take ourselves seriously. Our goal is to share our love for all things Disney with the world. You many not find everything we share of interest. All we ask is for you to keep an open mind. Listen to us. Laugh with us. Disagree with us. Just remember it's all about the fun…and the Magic of Disney." Subscribe HERE.

    • Micecast is up next, featuring Greg from the aforementioned Imagineering My Way podcast, Mike, another former Disneyland Cast Member, and Shaft (whose nickname changes quite often, depending on the mood of the other hosts). They pull no punches in their discussion of all things Disney-related. Make sure the kids aren't listening, because they seriously tell it like it is (they willingly give themselves a PG-13 rating). Put the kids to bed, grab a six-pack, and tune in! Like IMW, it's opinionated, but they give you an interesting and sometimes really funny take (if you get their sense of humor…I was in the military, so I get it) on whatever they're talking about. For many, it's a love-it or hate-it podcast. Subscribe HERE.

    • The Mortis Matinee is the next podcast up for the list. The Mortis family, led by Scott and Briget. They get together with their two daughters, Kaity and Athena, to review vintage (mostly) Disney movies. This podcast presents a unique slant and is really good for parents who are trying to decide if a particular movie may be good for the family or not. The shows usually follow a monthly release schedule. Subscribe HERE.

    • Get ready to look at Disney with a funny slant with this next podcast. The Mouse Comedy podcast features Jonathan Walker paired up with Little Red (aka Tairy from the Disney Tidbits podcast) and looks at the more lighthearted side of what happens in the Disney theme parks. Episodes are released every other week or so. Subscribe HERE.

    • Up next is the Mouse Guest Weekly podcast. This is a companion to and it hosted by Eric, Cathy, and Dan. With weekly shows, this show is a potpourri of Disney-related material. Their tagline is "we discuss all things Disney", and it's really accurate. Included in their weekly episodes is a segment for listener celebrations. On top of discussions about the parks and the Disney Corporation, they also include high-quality audio and, occasionally, a video segment. If you like a little bit of everything, this could be the podcast for you!

    • Grab a martini, The Mouse Lounge podcast is up next. Gary Chambers is the bartender for the lounge, and, while you're bellying up to the bar, you'll hear about (among other things) news of the Walt Disney company, what's on TV (Disney-related, of course) and, of course, the Disney theme parks. You'll also likely hear some vintage audio in the episodes from way back. Gary took a 3-month hiatus (as soon as I started this), but he's doing shows again, so it's being included.  Some of the background interview audio that Gary on this podcast is simply stunning!

    • Mousetalgia is the next show in the lineup.  "Carpe Kingdom" is their motto, and it fits.  This one is widely regarded as one of the top Disneyland-centric podcasts out there.  Your hosts include husband-and-wife team Dave and Becky Breiland, professional story-teller Kristen Nowicki, and founder Jeff Braham.  Lots of great information, as well as some great banter among the hosts, make this podcast a must-have for Disneyland fans (as well as many Disney World fans).   This show is a weekly format, with episodes typically lasting 1-1.5 hours long.

    • Continuing in the massive amount of 'M' podcasts, we have MouseStation, the companion podcast that goes with the boards. Broadcasting high in orbit above MousePlanet, they offer a show every week or so. MouseStation is hosted by former Disney cast member Mike Demopoulos and MousePlanet editor and staff columnist Mark Goldhaber. Segments include news, magical moments, tips, and listener feedback.

    • Rounding up the 'M' podcasts is one that has a huge following, but it's not about the's about the Muppets!  The MuppetCast is about (yep, you guessed it!) Jim Henson's ever-popular creation of the muppets.  Hosted by Steve Swanson, this is a weekly show that lasts around an hour on average.  Segments include news, projects, interviews, audio/video and more.  If you grew up with Sesame Street (like me), Fraggle Rock (not like me), the Muppet Show (Definitely like me), or muppet movies (yep), or if you are just a fan of the viral Muppet videos (it's okay to admit it...we all are), you'll love this podcast! .

    • Up next is the Netcot podcast. Van is your host for this bi-weekly podcast, which usually starts off with news and includes a variety of segments, including Top 7 lists, "Van-n-Now" (how attractions have changed) and more! Most episodes end with some Disney audio. .

    • The Canadians are also represented here in the list. The Northern Mouse podcast is updated monthly (sometimes less) with both audio and video casts. The audio podcasts include segments on news, travel tips, recipes, trip reports, and more!  Carlos De Sousa leads this band of podcasters (listen for the chats around the campfire during the non-winter months!).  Subscribe HERE.

    • Up next is the Original D podcast is hosted by Ryan and is, as of this writing, 5 episodes into his show. Shows right now are a very manageable 10-15 minutes and revolve around the park the Walt built first, Disneyland Park in Anaheim.

    • For those who are huge fans of the popular PassPorter guide books created by Dave and Jennifer Marx, the PassPorter Moms podcast is going to be a definite must to add to your list.  Jennifer, along with Passporter News editor Sara Varney, give weekly shows around 30 minutes in length about the goings-on in the Disney realm (not just WDW) and show-specific topics.
    • With the resounding success of the hugely popular movies created by the Pixar Studios, it would seem fitting to have a podcast dedicated primarily to the goings-on with the Disney-Pixar.  Derrick Clements has filled this void with the Pixar Podcast.  Broadcasting since the summer of 2010, Derrick hosts this show, which runs usually 1-2 episodes per week.  Depending on the show content, the length of the shows can range from around 20 minutes for news to well over an hour for high-profile interviews.

    • The next one in the list has gone through a couple of different names. It is a reincarnation of an older podcast that was called the Extinct Attractions podcast. It switched to Theme Parks 360, but it has gone back to become known as the Extinct Attractions podcast. Hosted by David O'Neal, this weekly podcast airs every Tuesday evening and is streamed live before being released as a podcast. Why, you ask? Because it allows them to incorporate a live chat with their listeners as the show goes on and provides real-time interaction with their fans.  This show has gone through a few changes in the past few months (2010 was a bad year for David) - it was as of late 2010 called "This Week in Theme Parks"  As of this update in 2011, they are again the Extinct Attractions Club.  Whatever their name is, episodes can be downloaded HERE
    • This next one is really intriguing. It's original name was the Running to Disney podcast. Alabama resident Gordon Harvey has found a love for running, which, considering I'm a sprinter and think that you should take a car for anything longer than 800 meters, I find very interesting. When it first started, Gordon found a way to combine his passion for Disney with his passion for running. He completed his first Disney World marathon in January of '09 and plans on competing in several more distance events at WDW and other ventures (including the 2011 Goofy Challenge).  As he did this show, he found himself talking less about Disney and more about running in general.  With a lifestyle change (specifically, becoming a vegan), he decided to end the run as "Running to Disney" and start over with This Running Life in late October 2010.  Though the focus is no longer primarily Disney-based, he still brings it up on occasion in his shows, and he has a lot of Disney followers, so I decided to keep it in the list, though I likely won't update the individual shows much unless they are Disney-specific.  His podcast chronicles his preparation, events, tips, pitfalls, and more, along with living the vegan life. Long-distance runners who like Disney still love this podcast.

    • Another interesting podcast is Those Darn Cats, hosted by long-time friends Jennifer and Lisa. Another podcast rated PG-13, they got their start at the Mouseguest podcast and have since branched off to create their own show. These two do occasionally take a tangent and are waaaaaayyy off course in their discussion before you know it. In their iTunes description, their podcast is "fun, irreverent, very wacky and usually full of "whaaa????" moments!"

    • WaltCast is another niche podcast. This is usually a shorter podcast, usually running under 20 minutes. Topics covered in the shows typically revolve around news and one or two features. College sweetheart Katie Little and Shawn Bonneau are your hosts.  The allure to this show is that they have some powerhouse interviews with bigger-name Disney folks! Subscribe HERE.

    • The WDWNT podcast (WDW News Today), like the Disney Pincast shows, offer both an enhanced and a standard download. This all-encompassing weekly show is hosted by Tom Corless, who's accompanied by several other co-hosts. Labeled as a variety show, WDW News Today suggests that you tune in weekly for a podcast filled with trip planning information, attraction history, current events, listener interaction, entertaining discussions, and plenty of comedy.

    • Next up is WEDWay Radio. Hosted by brothers Matthew and Nathan Parrish, this show gives weekly updates providing insider information, news, rumors, and overall fun at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Often, they'll take a look at how an attraction has changed over time or will reflect on older attractions. While they tested out doing enhanced episodes (which I LOVED!!!), they decided to maintain a single feed.  The traditional MP3 version can be accessed here:

    • Media correspondent and film, TV, and music critic Aaron Wallace hosts the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Pod, where he takes a look at Disney news and theme parks. Being a critic, he also looks at movies, animation, and all other Disney facets. The podcast took a break in late 2007 but has re-emerged with new episodes in 2009. Subscribe HERE.

    • I'm setting the next one off because I think it deserves special mention for its content. Probably the most popular comprehensive podcast (definitely one of the most in-depth ones) is The WDW Radio Show. Hosted by Lou Mongello, author of two trivia books devoted to Walt Disney World, has a weekly podcast that covers all aspects of the world. Like the Inside the Magic podcast, many podcasts start off with a news and rumors section. While these episodes are sometimes loooooooonnnnnnngggggggg (many have been known to go well over 90 minutes…to be fair, most of the comprehensive podcasts are fairly long because, well, THEY'RE COMPREHENSIVE!!), it's one I find myself pausing and resuming, because of the amazing content that he brings. I don't know who his connections are, but Lou is able to bring on guests that most would consider impossible to get. Guests have included Margaret Kerry (the original model for Tinker Bell), Disney Imagineers, Jim MacPhee (VP of Epcot) and many other notable figures in the Walt Disney legacy, Samantha Brown of The Travel Channel, Richard Sherman (of the famous Sherman Brothers), Lee Cockerell (Executive VP of Operations at WDW), and many, many more. Just as interesting as the guests he interviews are his DSI episodes, where DSI stands for "Disney Scene Investigation". The DSI episodes take you through the history of a particular attraction and give a lot of interesting in-depth knowledge on that attraction. I had the opportunity to have a chance meeting with Lou during our 10-year anniversary trip in May of 2008 (we were in the same line for popcorn while waiting for Wishes…I got mentioned in Episode 16 of the podcast a little over 54 minutes in). I found this podcast as an offshoot of its predecessor, the extinct Mousetunes podcast (which Lou was a co-host of). Mousetunes was the very first podcast I listened to, and, due to an apparent curse that follows me around, Mousetunes ceased operations within a few months of me listening to it. It's hard to top this podcast, and I can't imagine the amount of work that Lou puts into each episode. I rank this one as a close second to WDW Today.