Goodbye to my major claim to fame: Carl Kassell’s voice on my answering machine


The man, the myth and the message

Time and progress have come to the CollateralDamage household and we are getting rid of the land-line telephone. So we no longer have a group phone. That phone line is where, for the past 12 years, Carl Kassell‘s voice has resided. Unfortunately when I wrote that script for Carl (I should really put that on my resume) I made it specific and included our soon-to-be-gone phone number. Click here to listen to Carl as he answered our calls for so long.

I won this cherished item by correctly answering 4 (count ’em FOUR) questions about the news on NPR’s quiz show Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me. (It was their first year-end show and they upped the ante on the questions. They’ve never done it again and so I remain the only person ever to have gone 4 for 4.)

Having Carl’s voice is, in fact, every bit as cool as you think it is. More than once I have received messages about how cool a thing it is from people who have called the wrong number. And once a wrong number even called back to hear it again. Carl Kassell has also helped to encourage a certain sense of humility in me. Several times I have received a phone call from friends who said, in disappointed tones, “Oh … you’re home. I wanted to hear the message. If I call back, do you mind not answering?”

People frequently asked me how I got to be on the show. It’s a question I find confusing because the answer is so obvious: I called the number they repeat dozen times each week. No secret to it. I wonder if Wait, Wait … has a policy against two-time winners? I’m going to use the same tricky maneuver I used the last time — the telephone — and try to go for the gold again.

Until that happens I will cherish the cassette tape with the Wait, Wait logo on it and all that greatness within it.


Welcome home, as it were

Welcome to the new home for Collateral Damage, that irritating blog that used to be at CMO magazine, until CMO bit the dust. For those of you new to my little menagerie of stories — this is where I, yet another opinionated blow-hard, go on at length about business and marketing and vainly attempt to be funny.

About me: I’m Constantine von Hoffman, a senior writer for BrandWeek magazine and standup comedian.

Here is what in journalism parlance is called the “nut graph” about me. A veteran journalist with more than 20 years professional experience, I am one of the few people to have worked for both the devil (AKA Rupert Murdoch when I was city editor at the Boston Herald) and The Deep Blue Sea (associate producer for National Public Radio’s environmental news show Living on Earth).I have covered everything from fires to sewer committee meetings to science to the arts and A LOT of business stories. Prior to BrandWeek, I was senior writer for CMO magazine and before that I was a freelance writer. My work has appeared in a whole bunch of magazines, including the Harvard Business Review, Sierra, Boston Magazine and CIO.