Courtenay's blog | Live Wire Radio

Our opening show on September 26, 2015 had the theme, "Going Viral." Our head writer, Courtenay Hameister, has some experience with this.

Going Viral on the Reg.

I can turn anything into cancer. 

I’m like the world’s saddest magician.

Most people see a mole on their shoulder change a little, and they think, “Uh-oh. Could be cancer.”

That is rookie bullshit.

I can have a pain in the second-to biggest toe on my right foot, and think, “Bone cancer. It’s probably bone cancer. Yes, the chance of bone cancer is significantly lessened in adults without other cancers but that’s exactly why Scott’s friend got it because the doctors didn’t think to look for it and now they haven’t looked for it in me and here it is, in my toe that weirdly hurts even though I didn’t do a thing to it.”

The thing about hypochondria is that unlike most things that you need to work harder at as you get older, convincing yourself you have some sort of illness or infirmity gets significantly easier once you hit 40.

Now there are so many new pains and unexplained marks and bruises on my body that the list of diseases I could have has skyrocketed, so I no longer need to create new-and-undiscovered illnesses like “healthy-feeling-fever” or “latent tibula fracture." In my 30’s I mostly worried about cancer and schizophrenia or that might be a sociopath, but now I’ve had shingles and herpes and the plague and a heart attack, all in my head.

That’s the funny thing about hypochondria—our brain can’t really tell the difference between when we’re imagining something or actually experiencing it—it reacts almost identically, so when I’m talking to someone who had a heart attack, my impulse is to say, “Oh, I did too,” because of that time when I had gall stones and I was sure I was dying. In my head, I was going through the exact same thing he did, I was just wrong.

And now, hypochondria has an assist in the internet, to the point that there’s now a colloquial term for people whose hypochondria is escalated by looking up their symptoms on the web: it’s called Cyberchondria.

WebMD is essentially Pinterest for hypochondriacs—all they need to add is the ability to create boards of your favorite disease families, like "dermatological disorders I probably have," "New viruses that are definitely going around my office" and "Cute cats that just gave me the first human case of feline leukemia."

There are about 25 million searches for the word "cancer" on Google per month. About a million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer in a month, so that's approximately 24 million people searching for cancer who probably don't have it. (I'd like to apologize to all the hypochondriacs out there for that cancer statistic. That's just the type of thing to send them into a tailspin, so you have to remember that there are 7.3 billion people in the world, so only .0001% of them are getting diagnosed each month. I hope that makes you feel better. It made me feel better. But what that also means is that if you tell someone they're one in a million, you're telling them that there are 7,125 other people in the world exactly like them. Statistics are a complicated double-edged sword.)

As for me, it turned out that I'm not a hypochondriac, I've just had generalized anxiety disorder my whole life, which I just discovered recently. But for all the hypochondriacs out there, I know it's frustrating when you keep thinking you have something and it turns out you don't. It may be comforting to find out that even if you don't have anything else, hypochondria is a bonafide mental illness listed in the DSM-5. So you were right. You DO have something. Congratulations?

by Courtenay on October 6, 2015 - 10:08am.

he part-time (0.6 FTE) Managing/Development Director will be responsible for overseeing the operations of the Live Wire Radio organization and spearheading all development activities.  This position is supported by the Executive Producer, Marketing Manager, part-time operations staff and a part-time grant writer (contractor).

Development Duties 
Development efforts focus on corporate giving and sponsorships, individual giving, grants and fundraising events designed to ensure Live Wire’s continued growth. 


  • Develop and execute a formal strategic plan and initiatives to engage potential donors.
  • Solicit and secure financial support from individuals and corporations.
  • Develop and track proposals for foundation and corporate foundation requests, in coordination with the grant writer. Create project budgets related to grant applications and write reports.
  • Manage and grow the League of Extraordinary Listeners (LOeL), a budding individual giving and membership program. Administer benefit fulfillment.
  • Maintain and improve the donor database on Salesforce.
  • Oversee the comprehensive planning, organization, and implementation of special events.
  • Prepare and send appeals for donations (on-line and direct mail).
  • Ensure organization is compliant with all donor and sponsorship acknowledgments including, but not limited to, donor lists for show program and other printed materials and in digital media.
  • Lead board development committee. Facilitate calls/meetings, set agendas, track assignments and follow up.

Managing Duties  
Managing efforts include oversight of governance, finance and operations.


  • Oversee day-to-day operations. Seek to make improvements as the organization grows to expand infrastructure and resources.
  • Develop and manage annual budgets and policies. Forecast and track financial performance against budget on a monthly basis. Code invoices and deposits for the bookkeeper.
  • Work with the organization’s Board of Directors, assisting in the preparation of agendas and documents for board meetings. Archive attendance records and minutes created by the board secretary.
  • Manage Human Resources for the organization, including new hire paperwork, IRS forms, and employee contracts.
  • Act as a representative of Live Wire in the non-profit arts community, attend cultural and community events.


  • Two years or more of relevant experience.
  • Knowledge of Live Wire Radio and enthusiasm for our mission
  • Experience in and understanding of the non-profit world, comfortable in small office environment.
  • Knowledge and experience with standard human resources best practices and regulations.
  • Proven development and fundraising skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Detail oriented and effective at identifying ways to improve processes, set standards and grow the organization
  • Working knowledge of Salesforce is beneficial
  • BA required

Please send cover letter and resumé to by May 15, 2015

by Courtenay on February 27, 2015 - 9:29am.

Live Wire recently played host to the incredibly funny Megan Amram, Parks and Rec writer and author of the hilarious book Science: For Her! The theme of the show was "The Art and Science of Being a Lady," so I took the opportunity to expound on what I think it means to be a lady.


I’ve never liked the word “lady.”

It reeks of propriety and obligation.

The only times I can remember people using it in my presence have been to tell me the myriad things I shouldn’t be doing.

Ladies don’t belch.

Ladies don’t pass gas.

In fact, ladies never let anything go into, or come out of their bodies.

Ladies have Barbie parts.

Ladies are sexless.

Ladies are humorless.

Ladies don’t make crass jokes.

Ladies don’t make jokes at all.

Or if they do, they’re about a heated game of bridge with the Andersons and they’re never, ever funny.

Ladies don’t laugh, they titter.

There’s nothing fun about tittering.

A titter is a laugh and an apology at the same time.

The only time a laugh ever requires an apology is if your friend falls down in your presence and you laugh prior to asking them if they’re okay.

Ladies don’t skateboard, or snowboard, or waterboard or do anything with the word “board” in it.

The only sports ladies are allowed to play are tennis and golf because both involve cute skirts and the word “stroke” without any sexual connotations.

Ladies let the man set the pace in the relationship.

Ladies wear long skirts with bustles because it’s a great place to store all the anger and frustration they feel about letting the man set the pace in the relationship.

Ladies never ugly cry.

Ladies never yell, or run, or jump, or spit,…or swallow, or smoke, or twerk, or do body shots, or discover radium, or complain about sexism in the video game industry, or swear, or chew gum, or do that pully-squatty combo that’s required when the crotch of their tights is traveling to their knees.

What I’m saying is, ladies don’t really exist.

Or, I should say, they might appear to exist, but if you think you know a lady, she’s doing every single thing on this list when she thinks no one is looking.

Especially the pully-squatty tights combo.

Everyone has done the pully-squatty tights combo at some point in their lives. Even Batman.

To ask someone to “be a lady” is asking her to conform to some nonexistent, un-reachable standard in the same way “be a man” or “why can’t we just have a normal family?” is.

I say if we all want to be around women who drink and actually have bodily fluids and cackle and have sex with their non-Barbie lady parts and eat hot wings and eliminate Skynet by using old Terminators against new Terminators, we should put the term “lady” into the same dark closet that “gentlewoman” and “wench” are hanging out in.

Or, maybe the next time you see someone acting in a way that you don’t think correlates properly to the genitalia you assume they have, maybe just take all those feelings you’re having about it, and shove them into your bustle.

There’s a lot of room in there.

I should know.

I’m a lady.

by Courtenay on December 9, 2014 - 8:13pm.

Last week, the hilarious and loud Billy Eichner actually made David Letterman laugh (quite a feat!) with a great bit called "Celebrity Child or Kentucky Derby Winner"

After it aired, Live Wire's photographer, Jennie Baker emailed me and asked "On a past show, did Live Wire do a game asking someone to determine whether names on a list belonged to a Kentucky Derby horse or a celebrity's child?"

The answer is yes. In April of 2012, we recorded and aired a segment written and performed by Sean McGrath called, "Famous Race Horse or Child of Celebrity?"

Says McGrath about the coincidence: "If this was some Billy on the Street game that they did many years before I thought of it, then so be it and good for them. If not, then they should know I have plenty of ideas that are way better than that one that they shoulda stole."

They probably didn't steal the idea...comedy minds and the zeitgeist work in mysterious ways, and we're just a wee public radio show out of Portland with a podcast that can be heard worldwide. We're just saying that it sounds awfully familiar.

You can view our script and listen to our version from two years ago below. Eeeenteresting.

by Courtenay on September 19, 2014 - 12:20pm.



Hey there,

Host Courtenay Hameister here. As some of you may have already heard, after nine (amazing, life-changing, wonderful) years, I've decided to step down as host of Live Wire. 

The thing is, I've just finally come to realize that I am simply not a person who is built for getting up in front of 400 people for three hours twice a month. I've always loved being head writer, reading my essays and performing with the sketch comedy troupe, but doing interviews and being the sole conductor of the freight train that is our live show was causing me undue stress that I finally decided was too unhealthy to sustain. (After having minor surgery to remove a rather angry gall bladder, I was told that stress may have caused the issue, and I'm pretty sure I don't have that many expendable organs left. My spleen is already giving me dirty looks.)
I am so proud of what we created with this show, and I think a testament to that is that Luke Burbank was able to walk in with very little notice last show and host without a hitch. (That's also a testament to Luke's talent, our amazing cast, crew and Executive Producer Robyn Tenenbaum, who responded to my decision with a tremendous amount of empathy and understanding.)
I'll stay on as Head Writer and Co-Producer and hopefully finish the book of essays I've been working on for (coincidentally?) nine years.
I am grateful to our Portland audience for accepting me and allowing me to find my footing as host - these have been the most rewarding years of my professional life, and I know I was incredibly fortunate to have the job. I'm sure a lot of people will think I'm nuts for stepping down, and so do I, a little, but I know this is the right thing for me. I'm calmer already. I'm napping right now, actually.
We're hoping to have one last show with me as host if my organs allow. Stay tuned, and thank you so much for all your support throughout years. I'm so grateful, and so lucky. 
by Courtenay on April 3, 2013 - 8:47am.

So, y'know how you watch shows like "The Donna Reed Show" and "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Brady Bunch" on TVLand, and you say, "Y'know what? Screw you, Hollywood! No one's mother is that perky or sweet or supportive, or always baking and smiling and wearing awesome get-ups."

Well, I beg to differ.  This is my mom, Sally.

Sally in October.

What? Why yes, that IS a sequined effing Jack-o-Lantern on her sweater. And YES, those are Jack-o-Lanterns hanging from her ears. So, suck it, Donna Reed. BEAT THAT.

This is what Mom wore on a shopping trip last year:

Shopping Sally

Did it bug me that my mom looked about 20 times cuter than me that day? OF COURSE NOT, WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK THAT?

But I digress. What I need to let you know is that if you've never tried my mom's baked goods, then you really haven't lived. And now's your chance. To live. And then die from ingesting too much butter.

"Sweets From Sally" will be up for auction at Live Wire's "Wave of Light" benefit at Rejuvenation, and if you don't bid on it, I'm sorry to have to use this language, but you're kind of a giant dumbhead. There. I said it. What are "Sweets From Sally, you ask? They're once-a-month deliveries of platters of baked deliciousness for SIX MONTHS. She emailed me a list of possible items, and they include the following:

Butter Pecan Rolls
Cherry Macaroons
Katherine Hepburn Brownies
Orange-Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
Pistachio Bread
Kiss Cookies (the chocolate confection, not the band)
Raspberry-Cream Cheese Brownies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Texas Cake
Old-Fashioned Oatmeal/Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mini Frosted Cinnamon Crescent Rolls
And one Big-Ass Holiday Platter of Various Delectable Tidbits in December, delivered by a wee elven woman in a Christmas sweater (my mom).

There will be a platter of Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies at the event that'll go to the highest bidder on the package. 

There will also be bloodshed.

You can get tickets and more information here.

(Oh, and thanks, Mom, for kicking Donna Reed's ass at every turn. I know how lucky I am.)


by Courtenay on August 15, 2012 - 10:16pm.


If you weren't already aware, the wonderful folks at Rejuvenation have agreed to host another benefit for us in August, and this year, the bar has been raised. I mean, the actual bar will still be the exact right height for you to get your special Live Wire cocktail, but the figurative bar will be somewhere near the ceiling. Why? Well, because some extraordinarily generous people have donated some items to our live auction this year that will blow your mind, like:
1. Bali Baby! One Week Vacation in Bali for 2
Includes lodging, some meals, $500 in traveler's checks, massages, snorkeling, and BEING IN BALI. Suggested activities: lounging, mai tais, lounging WITH mai tais.
2. Mother's Bistro & Bar Package Dinner for 6
Dinner for 6 at Mother's Bistro - THE place in Portland for mouth-watering slow-cooked, upscale comfort food. Includes wine and alcohol, excluding gratuity. Plus, Lisa Shroeder's amazing cookbook! Damn. Now I'm hungry.

3. Timbers Match Extravaganza for 4

Includes four club seats (August 31st Timbers match), four Lapel pins, four Timbers T-shirts + a Burgerville Gift Card (Walla Walla Onion Rings are in season!). If you know what #RCTID means, this is the package for you.


4. Bob Dylan VIP Tickets

Two VIP tickets to Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler on October 15th at the Rose Garden. Feel free to make up your own Bob Dylan quotes after the show, a la Jonah Lehrer! Includes cocktails and appetizers at Toro Bravo. 


5. Dinner for Six in Your Home
Dinner, wine and beer for six with a floral centerpiece from Did we mention there is also live string music? There is live string music. 
6. Portland Center Stage Package
Two flex passes for PCS' fantastic 25th anniversary season, which includes Sweeney Todd, The Santaland Diaries, and the world premiere of Lauren Weedman's "The People's Republic of Portland." (8 admissions to shows of choice for each person).  

7. McMenamin's Gearhart Hotel Package

One night stay for two at McMenamin's beautiful Gearhart Hotel, a short walk from the beach, an even shorter walk to the links, and not a walk at all to the in-hotel pub! Breakfast and dinner and round of golf included. It's a golf-and-beer-lover's dream!


8. Fine Wine Package from

You know Oregon makes great wine, right? Well, has the goods.


Yeah, so that's some good stuff. Also, Faces for Radio will be performing a little somethin' somethin', the Doubleclicks and Blue Cranes will be performing, and the hilarious folks from Spicy News will stop by. Plus, a fella some of you know as MAYOR SAM ADAMS will be there. Get your tickets here, or be bummed out later.

*If you cannot make it to the event but still want to bid on any of these items, please email with your minimum and maximum bid and you will be virtually there!

** Purchase your tickets between August 7 and August 15 and you will be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Tasty n Sons.   

by Courtenay on August 1, 2012 - 12:18pm.

                Cold Turkey

Thanks to everyone who attended our last show of the season on Saturday! It was the perfect way to end a wonderful season. Our Flash Fiction prompt this show was "My New Year's Resolution," and as usual, our audience came through. Here are some of our favorite that didn't make the air:

I am giving up cold turkey.
- Sarah B.

I will choose my ruts carefully.
- Mike L.

I hereby resolve: no more resolutions.
- Marj R.

I resolve to stop eating vegetarians.
- Derek R.

I'd like to eat exotic meat. [Ed. note: at first glance, this looked like "erotic meat," which is...different.]
- Katie C.

Be less of an *sshole. Sometimes.
- Geoffrey C.

Be really really really really succinct.
- D. H.

More Live Wire, fewer restraining orders.
- Stephanie S.

Stop smelling my belly button fuzz.
- Amy P.

See places, learn more, occupy something.
- Stephanie H.

I will learn my times tables.
- Boon H., 8

I'll teach Boon his times tables.
- Allison M.

Expand our taxidermy. Add a deli.
- Jim R.

Make more art instead of worrying.
- Nicole A.

Build time machine, invest in Apple.
- Dan W.

Stop writing songs about Andrew Harris.
- Suzanne T.

This year; a Brazillian, no tears.
Stu S.

Test theory; walruses ticklish? Hire intern.
- Deborah G.

I will achieve honey-do list zero!
- Noah K.

F*ck it! Buy a larger size!
- Deb

Make a fuss. It's about time.
- Louise F.

Eat fruit. Scones are not fruit.
- Megan H.

Get full body holiday sweater tattoo.
- Simon J.

Eat all the gluten I can.
- Kelly A.

Improve on perfection? I think not.
- Teri F.

No more cake...well, starting tomorrow.
- Katie H.

Never tell anyone my age again.
- Ann

Ain't takin' guff from no one.
- Steven M.

To fit in these chairs next year.
- Taylor K.

Clean the gutters of my mind.
- Bob P.

Remember to get to Live Wire earlier.
- Ann W. (from the back row)

Stop funding library with overdue fines.
- Ingrid P.

...and the last one, well, it's not six words, but we liked it:
Make viral YouTube video, monkey riding pig, if not already done.
- Adam M.

Thanks again for SO much fun this season, and we'll see you in February!



by Courtenay on December 20, 2011 - 5:50pm.

Saturday night was quite a show! Some light Oedipus chat, a Battle of the Similes between House Poet Scott Poole and Paulann Peterson, and one heckuva giant finale with the 13-piece powerhouse Typhoon. You'll hear it all in upcoming weeks, but until then, here's a taste of our favorite Flash Fiction entries from the show. We asked our audience to write their life stories in 6 words. Here's what we got:

Missed the boat. Built my own.
     - Lauri S.

Wonder Woman drives a mini van.
     - Lisa G.

It made sense at the time.
     - Elizabeth P.

Born in Alabama, still hear banjos.
     - Maria L.

W T F? L O L.
     - Ron S.

Pursued enlightenment. Does lava lamp count?
     - Dale A.

Left my heart on goat farm.
     - Molly T.

Seventy-six blind dates later, success!
     - Molly N.

It was neither country nor Western.
     - Daniel F.

Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll. Sweatpants.
     - Kate W.

I think I ate too much.
     - Matt R.

Born too late - missed the 60's.
     - Anne W.

Lost twelve years to vegetarianism.
     - Renee N.

Biological alarm rang; got a cat.
     - Jody F.

I have made a huge mistake.
     - Liz D.

They lied about the free beer.
     - Jason B.

Daltry perm bombed in the 80's.
     - Bob Y.

Bachelor of Fine Arts. Waiting Tables.
     - Rita B.

Happy. Happy. Happy. Happy. Happy. Dead.
     - Jon A.

Too much conscience, too little id.
     - Tim F.

A bluff, or a full house?
     - Andy B.

Army brat; theatre nerd: revenge.
     - Katie L.

Ohio to Oregon. I grow beards.
     - Jason N.

Life is not catch and release.
     - Jack H.

Farmboy escapes farm. Still a farmboy.
     - Dave

Breast cancer: fake boobs, real courage.
     - anonymous

Naps and diapers at both ends.
     - anonymous

Developed a New York accent in utero.
     - Big Lou

A private island is not forthcoming.
     - Robert P.

At least I'm not my dad.
     - Douglas T.

Let me speak to the manager.
     - Jason C.

Where'd all these CATS come from??
     - Dylan M.

....and the winner of two tickets to our next show:

You just want my email address.
     - Lynn P.

Thanks for the great submissions, y'all. Are you liking this change to Flash Fiction as much as we are?


by Courtenay on October 24, 2011 - 2:36pm.

Wow, what a show on Saturday night! We couldn't have asked for more intelligent, funny guests or a better audience. Can't wait for you to hear the shows, but until then, check out the fruits of the audience's labor: it's Lilliputian Literature! We asked our audience to write six-word stories based on the prompt, "My Life Story." Here are some of our favorites:

He said he was a doctor. 
-Molly R.

Summers off seemed worth it, initially.
- Brandi K.

You're too tall. You scare me.
- Barb M.

Things work out, unless they don't.
- Kristin L.

I live in a funeral home.
- Adrienne Daniels

Always trying to be a comedian.
- Eric M.

My sister is better at this.
- Christina C.

Hey Mom: I now like beets.
- Jeff W.

Global Warming Doubts Texas Governor Exists!
- Ron F.

Found my soulmate on porn site.
- Holly F.

Fast and furious, stumbling and heavenly.
- Cindy K.

Too busy to write six!
- Dylan M.

Could you please repeat the question?
- Melissa M.

Sleepy. Exhausted. Happy. A new father.
- Karl R.

Damn. I was 40 until today.
- Melanie W.

I still own my life rights.
- Jamie C.

A bad girl, a better man.
- Hillary J.

I like my sisters better now.
- Anna P.

I knew it'd end this way.
- Sid Tyler

Uh, gets easier, right?
- Ryan O.

Child ate dog's obedience school homework.
- Chris T.

Got it right the first time.
- Jim B.

I'm so glad I remembered to come.
- Maggie M.

But then I had cats instead.
- Hester & Yael

Being an adult really sucks sometimes.
- Ryan

And the dog dug it up.
- Rolf P.

Achieved perfection for a second there.
- Tiffany

Who knew cockfighting's illegal in Delaware?
- Marty M.

Silent bird. I do not tweet.
- J. J. M.

Send help! Stuck in alternate universe.
- Ron L.

My ruffled feathers wet with dewdrops.
- Aren M.

Bad choices reaped rewards. Now what?
- Marie S.

I am becoming my mother. Hooray!
- Christina H.
[Author's note: Not sarcastic! =)

Stole your pen. Almost feeling guilty.
- Chris B.

I couldn't care less...or more.
- Angie S.

Where am I? Who are you?
- Joanne Summers

My two dads made memorable risotto.
- Lisa D.

Recent graduate. Will work for food.
- Morgan G.

The whole mail room's a crime scene. 
- Lili Ristagno

...and this week's winner of a ticket to our next show:

Cardboard box, xBox, inbox, pine box.
- Vandoren W.


by Courtenay on October 10, 2011 - 10:51pm.