Twist of fate

David Parks

Photo By nick pike

David Parks was born in Illinois and raised in Iowa before moving to California in 1994 and then Chico in 1996. He met his wife, Jennifer, a few years later and they moved into the home they still live in and had two daughters, ages 6 and 2 1/2. Parks, who works as a contracted arborist for PG&E, is an avid listener to NPR. He recently entered a trivia contest on the show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, where the winner gets to have classic newsman Carl Kasell be the voice of his or her personal voicemail. The subject of the questions was, of all things, the show My Little Pony. Parks’ daughters are fans, so he’s somewhat familiar, but he didn’t answer his own questions—he got to listen while President Bill Clinton answered for him. Lucky for Parks, Clinton got all three answers right.

Are you a pretty big NPR fan?

I pretty much listen to NPR all day every day; I have their programming schedule almost memorized. NPR has their news shows all during the week when I’m working and their feature shows on the weekend like Wait Wait, which is my favorite.

What’s the story behind this contest?

Over the last couple the years the prize has always been Carl Kasell’s voice on your voicemail, and they have had listeners call in and do the trivia and I’d always thought how great that would be to win—but I knew I’d never do it because I’m such a shy guy. So my friend who I’d introduced to the show recognized this and secretly began speaking to staff members of NPR and told them I was a super-fan of the show but how I was so shy. The show aired and they introduced Bill Clinton and the part where they asked who Bill was playing for, at which point Karl Cassel said, “David Parks of Chico, California.” My jaw fell to the floor. I was absolutely stunned.

What’s the process for getting Carl to do your voicemail?

We were told to take our time and we basically have a script to create that Carl will read and then they’ll send us a disc. We have a few ideas for it, but we’re still working on it. You only get one chance for this kind of thing, so we want to make it funny and recognizable to the NPR crowd.

Were you nervous having Bill Clinton answering My Little Pony questions for you?

I was nervous but it was awesome hearing my name and being part of the show. When he got the second question right I was jumping up and down with tears in my eyes.