The Mommy Diary
Rebecca Coates Nee on what's relevant in the real world.
April 29, 2002
While radio and television news directors were in Las Vegas
other they've still got it, I was dutifully documenting my
viewing habits in
one of those little diaries advertisers use to decide whether
again in the morning.
It all began when the phone rang during one of my weeknight
which involves pureeing carrots while dodging Tupperware being
thrown by my 1
"Hi, my name is Ted and I'm calling from (major TV research
firm) and we're
doing a survey of media viewing and reading habits. Do you
have a few
I dropped the carrots. "You bet."
"Great. Are you or anyone in your family currently employed
by a radio, TV,
newspaper, cable or other media outlet?"
"Great," Ted continued. "Now, may I speak
with the youngest person over 18 in
"That would be me."
"Great," said Ted. "And what is your age?"
"41." Not quite as young as they like 'em, but then
the key demographics
began pouring in to Ted:
Married, mother, self employed, graduate degree - and the
"Do you do most of the shopping for your household?"
"Are you kidding? My husband goes to the store as often
as the Bush
"So that's a yes." Ted was smiling now, I could
"OK - I'm going to ask you about your radio listening
Yesterday, did you listen to the radio from 5 to 5:30 am,
6 to 6:30 am ."
"Ted - stop. I didn't listen to the radio yesterday."
"Well, let me remind you that includes your alarm clock,
being put on hold on
the telephone, riding in an elevator, background music ."
"My daughter is my alarm clock, we don't have many tall
buildings here and I
work out of my home. But wait - I did run to the store yesterday
milk and I guess I had the radio on."
Ted pinpointed my listening time to 4:45 pm - 4:50 and then
station I had dialed in. "Um, let me think. 96.9 was
on when I started the
car, then a commercial came on so I switched to some Tampa
exactly what the advertisers want to hear.)
"Do you know the number, call letters, catchy phrase
or slogan of the Tampa
"Do you remember what they were playing?"
"I think it was a song from the 70s."
"So - an oldies station."
"I prefer not to think of it that way, Ted."
"OK - let's talk about newspapers."
Ted discovered I only subscribe to the local paper. "But
I get Newsweek and I
read the Post and the Times online." Ted didn't care.
"When was the last time you read the local paper?"
"Well, I tried to yesterday by closing myself into my
bedroom with my
daughter. But the cats got locked in too, causing one of them
to use our
bathroom as a big litter box. Then, my daughter smashed her
hand in the
debris before I could clean it up. So I only got to page 2.
Does that count?"
A few days later, the rest of the survey arrived by mail.
After all the years
I spent in TV news scouting for "Mommy Stories,"
I was now one of the most
powerful mommies of them all: a mommy with a diary.
But my private viewing habits won't be very salacious to the
On most days, I averaged between 20 and 40 minutes of local
and national news
- all of it in the morning, before my live-in alarm clock
kicked off. Aside
from an occasional Oprah, the West Wing and Frasier, that
was pretty much it.
Like many moms, I am trying to abide by the American Academy
guidelines by shielding my daughter from the evils that lurk
behind the TV
screen. Aside from that, I don't have the time or interest
for much of what
goes on the air these days. I guess I really do believe if
important, I'll read about it the next day. That's a pretty
drastic shift for
a former TV news junkie.
One local morning news show tried to get my vote with a segment
beauty aids. But I was more interested in the competition's
live coverage of
a fire in a historic building than the benefits of slathering
egg whites on
my face - especially since just taking a shower passes for
luxury time these
What's relevant to a mommy with a diary? Weather - especially
here in the
tropics. World peace. The unidentified black mass floating
in the Gulf of
Mexico. Crime that MAY affect me or my family (which excludes
chases or drug deals gone bad). Education, the economy and
impacts the future of our society.
I also realized during my week with a diary that I couldn't
care less about
the clothing tastes, facial features or hairstyles worn by
those bringing me
So my mommy diary will show that I'm not much of a news viewer
like Ted Koppel, I like to know you're still there when I