Do You Have RCP?
What is RCP?
We are all familiar with acronyms such as:
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
PPD (Paranoid Personality Disorder)
But are you familiar with RCP? Radio Caller Paranoia (RCP) is common in people who play radio contests, especially call-in radio contests, but can also be experienced by people who regularly call radio talk shows to express opinions.
RCP occurs when
a) the line is ringing but is not picked up (line rings out around the 5 minute mark)
b) the line is ringing and is cut off within 3 minutes without being answered
c) the line is ringing, the call is picked up but they are told they are not the correct caller
d) the call is picked up but they are put on hold and the call is dropped
e) the call is picked up, they play off air, and the call is never aired
f) the caller gets a busy signal continuously
g) the call is dropped before connecting and “call failed” shows on their cell phone
Causes f) and g) are the most dangerous, as the paranoia is completely unfounded and can cause undue rage and phone-throwing. Symptoms are similar to those of a panic attack and may consist of sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat, irrationality, speechlessness, fits of cursing, primal screams, denial, and, more rarely, shame. Treatments may include breathing into a paper bag, having a stiff drink before dialling, or having a landline installed. Prevention can be the best measure, achieved by going to a friend’s house and using their phone (which may have the complication of increasing the RCP if the friend’s line actually gets through!) Abstinence may be the only sure cure.
Causes d) and e) have some merit, as it’s quite possible the caller actually IS being actively screened. Symptoms include incredulity, balking, confusion, sadness, and loss of words. The paranoia in these situations is justified since it’s plausible the radio hosts knew exactly who they were talking to. Unfortunately, only calls which go to air are actually provable, so it’s a their-word-against-yours situation. Therefore, the only treatment is to call the GM and play back the recording you made with your phone mic (because you’re paranoid!)
The most common causes of RCP are a), b), and c) – they happen frequently, are common at every station, and has happened to all radio callers. Symptoms can fall within a wide spectrum, but usually are limited to some form of head shaking, guffawing, swearing, phone-slamming, and persistent persisting. There is no known treatment or cure for this form of RCP, but it can go into remission when one is on vacation in a different country.
Here is an example of Common RCP:
today I was calling a station which I rarely call, and after about a minute of redialling on my cell phone and my landline, I got a ring on my landline. Immediately after that line connected, my cell phone also started ringing through. After about 1.5 minutes, my cell phone line got cut off. I know the timing because the first song after the cue to call was still playing, and this station always plays 2 songs after the cue before airing the play. My landline continued to ring for another minute, until the host picked up the line and said “I’m sorry, we’ve already got our player for today but try again tomorrow morning!” Sweet as pie and oozing kindness.
My RCP flared up (there was a distinct guffaw and much head shaking) and I had to talk myself down. Was it possible my cell phone cut the line itself? Was it possible the host cut it off by accident? Or did the host see my name and number, cut off the cell line, answer a few more lines, then answered my landline not knowing it was me because it’s an unlisted number? This is a host I like, someone I have never suspected of screening, and a person whom I would defend if their honesty was called into question. I chose to shrug it off and sweep it under the rug, but I kept tripping on the rug!
In these technological times, it would be foolish to think radio stations do not have call display which shows the name and phone number of people who are calling the station. Unless you pay extra for an unlisted phone number, either your number shows up or your number AND your name show up on their screen. My landline only shows my number, not my name. My cell phone shows my maiden name AND my number. These facts only fan the flames of RCP. And when you ask a station if they have call display, the answer is always the Glomar response.
My RCP has also flared up when I’ve discovered my @ContestsVan account has been blocked by someone (Rock 101, Chris Gailus, and Jonny Staub for example.) At first I was insulted, then I was annoyed, then I thought it was funny, and now I’m at the “whatevs” stage. The people running those accounts are of no importance to me, so their opinions do not matter in the least. By the same token, my opinions should not matter to them either. Who the hell am I to judge anyone about anything? I’m no better than anyone else, nor is anyone better than me. We’re all at the same level until we know each other on a personal basis.
I prefer a home remedy for such cases of RCP: after succumbing to the negative voices in my head, I give myself a mental slap and carry on with my day realizing that even if I WERE being screened, it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Who cares?! Unless I can prove it, there’s no point in getting my panties in a knot. And if I could prove it, I’d file a report. 😉
If you or someone you know suffers from RCP, either on a regular basis or on rare occasions, please know there IS help. You are not unusual and you are not alone. This is an all-too-common syndrome that has seen a surge in cases since the invention of call display. With more research, a cure can be within our reach in the next decade.
But first we must talk about it and end the stigma. To join our support group or find one in your area, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, keep trying and happy dialling!