Coming soon to a frequency near you …

Announcer: We interrupt our regular programming to bring you this special appeal from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. We now go to Barry Baritone and Dora Dulcet, who are standing by at the State House in Augusta …

Barry: Good morning, everyone. We’re here in the State House Hall of Flags, just outside the office of Gov. Paul LePage, with a very important request for all our loyal listeners. I’m Barry Baritone, director of fundraising for MPBN …

Dora: And I’m Dora Dulcet, the Voice of Maine. Before we go a second further, there’s one thing Barry and I want very much to share with each and every one of you …

Barry and Dora: 287-3531!

Barry: Again, that’s 287-3531. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the office number for Gov. LePage …

Dora: Who, as we’re sure you know by now … 287-3531 … recently submitted a revision to his proposed $6.1 billion biennial budget that would strip MPBN of its nearly $2 million in state funding for each of the next two years. And as if that’s not bad enough … 287-3531 … the governor also wants to erase the statute that authorizes funding for MPBN. And so … 287-3531 … we need your help.

Barry: That we do, Dora. We’re asking that you join the thousands of Mainers who have already done so and call the governor’s office at 287-3531 so he’ll know just how important MPBN’s radio and television programming is to you. Again, that number is 287-3531 …

Dora: Maybe your circumstances are such that you can manage only one call to 287-3531. That’s just fine – MPBN is a community of 50,000 individual members, and every single call to the governor, no matter how brief, counts. So go ahead right now and dial 287-3531 …

Barry: Or perhaps you have a little more time than your neighbor and can squeeze, say, five calls to 287-3531 into your day.

That will qualify you for our new “Feet to the Fire Membership.” The moment you make that fifth call to 287-3531, our volunteers will gratefully to send you a CD featuring the work of Maine Public Radio Deputy News Director Susan Sharon as she exposes what we in public broadcasting refer to as “false utterances” by the governor …

Dora: That’s right, Barry, Susan artfully takes us all the way from the bogus buffalo studies to the ladies with little beards. And Barry, that’s not all we have for repeat callers to 287-3531 …

Barry: There’s … 287-3531 … more?

Dora: Indeed there is. Listeners who call 287-3531 at least 10 times over the next 24 hours will be eligible for our new “Shout from the Mountaintop Membership.” That comes with this lovely tote bag – one side shows intrepid State House Bureau Chief  A.J. Higgins beneath the balloon caption “Why did you take your name off your real estate in Waterville?” and the other side depicts Gov. LePage telling our own Jennifer Rooks “I’m about ready to punch A.J. Higgins.”

Barry: And this just in, Dora. During this break only, that tenth call to 287-3531 also will earn you a just-recorded CD of the lovely Suzanne Nance, MPBN’s music director, performing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Miserables.” Let’s listen …

Voice of Suzanne Nance, accompanied by a symphony orchestra: Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people – who will not be slaves again!

Dora: Oh my … what more can I possibly add to that, Barry, but … 287-3531!

Barry: Hear, hear, Dora. I’m told Suzanne just placed her own call to 287-3531 and actually got through to the governor himself.

Our producer tells me she’s singing to him as we speak … hold on, let me get this right … Suzanne Nance at this very moment is serenading Gov. LePage with “The Alphabet Song” in B flat minor from “Sesame Street.” Breathtaking, Dora, absolutely breathtaking!

Dora: Which underscores, of course, MPBN’s long-standing commitment to provide educational programming to Mainers who might otherwise wallow in their own ignorance. By making that call to 287-3531 you can ensure that Maine Public Broadcasting will continue to enrich our great state with programming that, quite frankly, you just can’t find on the commercial airwaves.

Barry: Well said, Dora. While they play ”Survivor,” we here in Maine are living it each and every day. And while we can’t guarantee our listeners immunity from, say, higher health insurance premiums …

Dora: … or no insurance at all …

Barry: That’s right, or no insurance at all … we can offer you this rare opportunity to help steer Maine away from that oncoming cliff simply by calling 287-3531.

Dora: Excellent point, Barry. As determined as we are to restore full funding to MPBN by calling 287-3531, we’re more than happy to partner with all of you out there who perhaps might have one or two additional messages for Gov. LePage. For example, are you still upset that the governor told our good friends at the NAACP to kiss, how shall I say it, his … his posterior?

Barry: Then call 287-3531.

Dora: Or perhaps you’re a teacher or state employee who’s tired of being blamed for Maine’s economic woes …

Barry: Again, that’s 287-3531.

Dora: Or maybe you simply want to remind the governor that those of us who did not vote for him vastly outnumber those who did …

Barry: In which case, Dora, the only number that counts is …

Dora and Barry: 287-3531!

Barry: I’ve just been handed this note from the governor’s staff, Dora. It seems our permit to broadcast here in the Hall of Flags has been revoked because … let’s see here … we are “deliberately interfering with the operation of state government” by telling citizens to call their governor at 287-3531.

Dora: Oh, the irony …

Barry: So I’m afraid it looks like we’ll have to pull the plug and find someplace else to continue our appeal.

Dora: How terribly unfortunate, Barry. Perhaps we should relocate down the hall to what appears to be the meeting room for the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. In fact, I happen to have the number there as well – in case things get backed up at 287-3531. The number for Appropriations is 287-1316.

Barry: Capital idea, Dora. So please folks, call 287-3531 or, in the alternative, 287-1316. You can call one or the other. Or you can call both! But please, take a moment to call. In the meantime, we’re going back now to “Speaking in Maine” and a riveting address delivered recently to the Caribou Chamber of Commerce by former Economic Development Commissioner Philip Congdon.

Dora: Riveting indeed, Barry. In fact, by the time you’re finished listening to what Mr. Congdon had to say about our dear friends in Aroostook County, I guarantee you’ll have yet another reason to reach for your phone and call …

Barry and Dora: 287-3531!

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: [email protected]