12/15/1986 at 01:00 AM EST
It's Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 26, and Randy Hall has been sitting at the turntables of Casper, Wyoming's KGRQ-FM almost continuously since 7:30 the previous Saturday night. The station owner/deejay tends zombie-like to the tapes and records, moving as though underwater, at times seeming mystified as to what he is doing.
For 94½ hours (the station broadcasts at 94.5 on the dial) Hall, 32, has beseeched his audience to give to the Casper Cares Campaign for the United Way. It is his way of helping the busted oil-boom town (pop. 47,000), whose jobless rate is 10 percent, feed its have-nots. "It's a shame for anyone to go hungry on Thanksgiving," he says. Listeners stream into the station to contribute a ham or a turkey, some canned food or a few dollars—enough, all told, to feed at least 500 families on the holiday.
In the four-day-and-night period, Hall has taken three two-hour naps—five minutes of sleep for each hour of activity. He suffers periods of deep depression and complains of a few "peripheral hallucinations—you know, where you think you hear the door open and someone walking in. Then you check, and no one's there."
As the clock hits 5:58 p.m. and We Are the World goes out on the airwaves, Hall puts his head down on the control board and bursts into sobs, then quickly composes himself and joins a champagne-popping celebration with the station staff. Before he signs off a guest asks him if he's going to repeat the marathon to spur contributions for Christmas. "No," Hall says with a heavy-lidded stare, "I'm going to walk to the North Pole for Christmas."
Get the guest room ready, Santa.