Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

A cautionary tale: If you're not a KPCC member, don't admit it to Rabe

John Rabe, host of KPCC's Off-Ramp
John Rabe, host of KPCC's Off-Ramp

The scene: a phone store in Glendale.

The time: this morning.

The players: "Brad" and "Lulu," 20-something clerks, and me.

I went in to exchange my phone. No dice. But Brad was very helpful and professional, and asked for my email address, which includes "," and he brightened and said, "Oh, KPCC! I love that station. What do you do there?"

"I host Off-Ramp," I said.

"Now I recognize you," Brad said. "I love that show!"

I looked at him over my sunglasses, like Bogart in "The Big Sleep..."

... and said, "So you must be a member!"

Brad shrunk about 10% and said that no, he wasn't a member.

"It's easy," I said. "You can do it online, it's a secure server, every member makes a difference, ten bucks month is all it takes."

Inspired, I motioned to Lulu, standing next to him. "She's a member," I guessed.

"KPCC, 89.3?" Lulu asked. "Yes, I'm a member."

Brad shrunk another 10%. But I drove on. "You guys must be making about the same amount, right?"

"No," Lulu said. "I just started. I make less."

"So you could give more," I said to Brad. "Twenty bucks a month."

I did not extract a firm promise from Brad, but I think Lulu will do it for me.