WMAD (96.3): Stuck in a truck

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Posted by madcityradio.com on November 16, 2008 at 16:58:34:

Stuck in a truck to win a truck

Since Oct. 2, Lisa Thompson and Tommy Kempfer have sat and sat and sat and sat in a truck that hasn't moved.

They are the two remaining contestants from eight entrants in an outrageous Madison radio contest called Stuck in a Truck, a mind and body test of tedium.

They get 10-minute breaks every three hours. Otherwise, they sit in the truck around the clock. There is little room. They sleep sitting up or in a position that resembles advanced yoga. They can meet their spouses outside during the brief breaks. They get no reading materials, DVDs or computer access. Each day crawls past.

To the last person sitting in the truck, a new but well-lived-in Ford F-150, worth almost $30,000, awaits. Second place gets nothing. So they sit while every moment is Webcast live by the contest's organizer "Star Country" WMAD (96.3 FM) at www.963starcountry.com.

And Thompson, 40, and Kempfer, who turned 26 in the truck, reside in the showroom vehicle at Kayser Ford on the Beltline at Todd Drive. They have become friends and they talk cheerfully together despite the conditions.

Sleep is usually limited to between four and six hours per night, Kempfer says. Spotlights blare on them all night, so they must rest with a blanket over their eyes. A low-volume speaker plays Star Country at all times. (The most-played songs by Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift have gotten on their nerves.)

They eat, try to sleep and stare at the Beltline from their clear vantage point.

"We've got the (Beltline) traffic patterns down," says Kempfer, of Sun Prairie. "Morning and night we see the rush hours. Even at lunchtime, it gets a little backed up."

Thompson describes specific back-up times and Kempfer adds, "Except on Fridays. The traffic starts about a half-hour earlier."

Both are married and self employed: Thompson, of Westfield, owns a sewer service and Kempfer is a wireless business consultant. On Oct. 22, the third-place contestant left the truck. Star Country, like other radio stations nationwide that have held similar contests, has made it more difficult as the weeks add up. The contestants' 6 a.m. break had been 30 minutes, now it's 10.

One contest change no more watches failed to disrupt the contestants. "Time goes faster without it," Thompson says.

On Election Day, both of them were allowed six hours to leave the truck to vote. Thompson says she felt nauseous and even panicky in a moving car, but the feelings subsided.

The truck's seats are locked. There's no lounging back. Thompson, who is 5-feet tall, is able to stretch her feet on the dashboard without pushing against the windshield. Kempfer is 6-foot-1 and can't do that. Each day, they switch sitting in the seat with the steering wheel in front of them.

Watching the pair on one of four Web cams, may, at times, be jarring. The days take their toll. "I can see how if we're caught just gazing, we look like the most miserable people in the world," Kempfer says. "In reality, we're probably ready to fall asleep or something."

Can this end happily after more than six weeks? Yes, they say.

"We're at the point where we know each other and respect each other," Kempfer says. "No matter who wins we're still going to happy for the other person."

A radio station rep stays with the pair at all times. Sitting near the truck, Mark Van Allen of Star Country thinks they could last until December.

Sue Webster, a Kayser Ford receptionist, has watched the contest from her desk about 20 feet behind the truck. She's enjoying the contest and has been surprised at the final two's determination.

"It's going to end," Webster says, then adds with a laugh, "probably."

(Tom Alesia, Wisconsin State Journal)

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