The eternal mystery of the Rough Draft Diaries

I listen to the news on NPR (National Public Radio) every morning — I’m one of those people. Occasionally they advertise other programs that are on NPR at other times of the day. One program they keep talking about is the Rough Draft Diaries.

I have absolutely no idea what it’s about.

Now, I’ve never actually listened to it, so I don’t expect I should know much about it. But I have no idea whatsoever what this program is. And it’s weird, because I’ve heard dozens of little ads for it, which are specifically designed to entice their listeners, and which change from week to week. Generally even a 10-second ad (whether it’s radio, TV, web, whatever) gives you at least some idea of what the product is. Science show, game show, documentary, podcast, reality TV, horror movie, political commentary, classical music. You may not understand the product at a deep level, but you get what category it’s in. But with this show? Nothing.

I’ve tried to piece it together from the fragments of data I’ve received, which are minimal:

  • The title: Rough Draft Diaries. Are we talking about the rough-draft versions of diaries? Or diaries about rough drafts? The latter seems more plausible — I’m imagining perhaps a series of interviews with artists, writers, etc., who talk about their works-in-progress.
  • The ads often feature the host asking a guest to choose three “nominations.” The guest (invariably someone I’ve never heard of) makes three choices, which all seem to be nonprofit organizations of some kind (again, groups I’ve never heard of). The host then says “You’ll have to tune in to find out which one I picked.”

I think that’s it. That’s all I know.

But those two fragments seem completely unrelated to each other. And, absent any other context, the request to “tune in to find out which one I picked” feels almost surreal. A Person chooses among three Groups selected by Another Person; rough drafts are perhaps involved? How can you say no?!

I could, of course, simply google the damn thing and find out in thirty seconds what it’s all about. I have not yet done this, for several reasons:

  • I’m mildly stubborn on occasion.
  • The show’s content itself — from the microscopic amount I know about it — really doesn’t entice me at all. I don’t especially care about the show. I’m more just enthralled by the existence of the mystery.
  • I’m also sort of fascinated by how long this bubble of ignorance can last. The more ads I hear, the more bizarre the gap in my knowledge becomes, and it’s hard to look away.
  • I like bullet points?

If any of my readers knows the solution to the riddle of the Rough Draft Diaries, you can leave it in the comments, or let it remain a mystery — your choice. Alternatively, you can make something up and see if I’m savvy enough to tell the difference.

Happy weekend, and may all your diary drafts be rough.

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