BOB GARFIELD: We're back with On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. When the Federal Trade Commission's "Do Not Call" list went on line late last month the telephone-answering public rushed in. By early this week, more than 23 million frustrated telemarket-ees had signed on to be left alone, and that's one way to deal with the annoyance of unwanted sales calls. Another way is Tom Mabe's guerrilla approach. As Bob learned in a conversation from a couple of summers back, Mabe has recorded and released his efforts to torture telemarketers telephonically. [CLIP OF TOM MABE ALBUM PLAYS]
WOMEN: We're a non-profit organization--
TOM MABE: Mm-hm?
WOMEN: -- and we're calling you today in hopes that you'd be willing to help someone less fortunate than yourself.
TOM MABE: Ah-- oh! You just hit my heart, you know? I do so much charity work; I pay the conjugal visits down at the prison-- Don't get me wrong - some of these guys just need to be held.
BOB GARFIELD: Tom Mabe, I guess the question that all of America is asking is what the hell is the matter with you?!
TOM MABE:[LAUGHS] I got tired of MCI calling me more than my friends and family did. You know I'm financially embarrassed waiting for the phone to ring, you know, being a musician and working on a house -- and it kind of -- said well I got this, you know, I'm a -- I like having fun. I just started -- on my little thirty-seven dollar answering machine I hit the memo button and, and started recording.
BOB GARFIELD: What's your favorite one?
TOM MABE:Low self-esteem - the first cut is kind of like my Sweet Home Alabama -- everybody knows me by that cut, you know, hey yeah that -that's the - kind of the hit off the CD.
TOM MABE: Hello!?
WOMEN: Is this Mr. Mab-e?
TOM MABE: Yes, it is.
WOMEN: This is Cheryl [BEEP] calling on behalf of [BEEP]--
TOM MABE: Tell you what, ma'am - I just got a call from my, my boy at school - his school counselor called up and said that he-- he had low self-esteem and-- he needed more encouragement at home. And I tell you what - I try to encourage him all the time to be half as good as his brother, but go ahead.
WOMEN: Okay, sir. The reason for my call-- [NOISE]
TOM MABE: Ooooo! Ooo!
WOMEN: -- is as a valued card member in the next two to three weeks you will be receiving a thirty day no risk trial of--
TOM MABE: Thirty days no risk trial? Well I wish to hell they had that kind of guarantee on my boy!--
WOMEN: Is he sitting right there with you?
TOM MABE: He's right next-- [SHOUTING] Sit down there! Quit your crying and be quiet!
WOMEN: Sir, maybe he needs a little more encouragement--
TOM MABE: [SHOUTING] I told you -- encouragement!? I encourage him all the time to be half as good as his brother!
WOMEN: Well, sir I, I am a mother of three, and--
TOM MABE: [BURPS] You're a mother of three?
WOMEN: -- they are - your talking to him is, is not very encouraging-- [LAUGHTER]
BOB GARFIELD: Why does this strike such a chord, such a resonant chord with listeners?
TOM MABE: Well because right now when people are listening to us there's, there's a lot of 'em being interrupted by telemarketers. I mean -trying to feed the baby - trying to have dinner - I mean geez, they call at the most inappropriate times.
BOB GARFIELD: Was there a single moment, a single moment of inspiration that you're most proud of that you feel like God touched you?
TOM MABE: Yes. First CD -- it's called "Tom Fires A Telemarketer."
WOMEN:Before we continue I need to tell you that our supervisors periodically monitor these interviews to ensure quality and courtesy. Do you currently have a paid job?
TOM MABE: Oh, yeah!
WOMEN: And are you--
TOM MABE: -- I'm a porn star!
WOMEN: [LAUGHS] That's funny. I'm surprised I haven't met up with you cause I'm a porn star too.
TOM MABE: Are you really?
TOM MABE: What movies have you appeared in?
WOMEN: All of 'em.
TOM MABE: All right then!
WOMEN: Okay! [PHONE RINGING]
WOMEN: [....?....] Candisi - can I help you?
TOM MABE: This is Dr. Thomas Mabe; I'm trying to get a hold of an employee of yours -- Theresa [INAUDIBLE]
WOMEN: Oh, hi. She won't be in till one o'clock.
TOM MABE: Okay.
WOMEN: Doctor do you have her home number?
TOM MABE: No, I do not have it on me - that's why I'm calling her work.
WOMEN: Okay, so let me - I can give it to you.
TOM MABE: Okay, thank you so much.
WOMEN: Okay. So let's hold on one second-- here we go - okay - and her number is 5 6 3 --
TOM MABE: Okay--
WOMEN: -- okay?
TOM MABE: Thank you so much. [....?....].
WOMEN: [....?....]. Bye bye.
TOM MABE: Bye bye. [DIAL TONE]
TOM MABE: Woo!! [DIAL TONE/INPUTTING NUMBERS] [PHONE RINGING]
TOM MABE: Yeah, Theresa?
TOM MABE: Theresa, this is Tom Wrightson; I'm calling from [....?....] Research Corporation?
TOM MABE: I work in a quality control p--department. We had monitored a call that you had a couple of weeks ago-- where you were claiming to be in the porn industry, and the company has a problem with that because the name is representing you with the porn industry, and we can't have that.
WOMEN: I don't remember saying that.
TOM MABE: Well we have it on tape and-- unfortunately we're going to have to - we're going to ask you to - not to come in to work and we'll mail you your check.
WOMEN: My God! You're serious aren't you!
TOM MABE: Yeah, absolutely! Yeah!
WOMEN: Okay. Bye.
TOM MABE: And then I had to call her back and say hey -just, just a prank.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Tom Mabe of "Revenge on the Telemarketer" fame. Next month he takes the pranks even further on his new album in which he follows telemarketers to a convention and calls them in their hotel rooms in the wee small hours of the morning. [MUSIC]