'Tis the season for heat wave stories … and the experts who can discuss them. Or expert, as the case may be with Eric Klinenberg, who appeared on "On The Media" last week to describe his part-time profession as a talking head. Klinenberg wrote a book in 2002 about the 1995 Chicago heat wave. And now, he is called upon – by pretty much everyone, pretty much every time a heat wave comes along – to comment on it. He's sort of like what Robert Thompson is to pop culture stories. Or what Jeffrey Eisenberg of Pest Away Exterminating is to bed bug infestation stories. "On The Media" Host Bob Garfield acknowledged, "Last summer, we were among the news outlets that called on Klinenberg, and this year he's making the rounds again with appearances on the networks, in major metropolitan dailies and on National Public Radio – three times. Make that four." (As far as we could tell via Nexis, Klinenberg has appeared once this summer on CBS News.) Klinenberg explains:
"I would say that every July I get a couple of phone calls per week from reporters doing heat wave stories, but if the heat wave hits California, Chicago or New York, then it spikes, and I'll wind up doing several per day."And what are reporters asking him?
"Actually, they ask the same questions that they asked originally four years ago when my book came out. One of the first things that happens is a reporter calls and says they want to do a heat story, and I say, you realize that what's happening this summer is not novel and that, in fact, heat waves have killed more Americans than all the other natural disasters combined for some time now. And I think they'll say, yes, of course we know that, but they're almost always startled by that news. Then they'll ask particular questions about who's at risk, what cities can do to improve their heat emergency response. So it's not that the questions aren't substantive. It's more that the questions are the same."You can check out the whole interview here.