The American commercialization of the fall of the Berlin Wall is continuing into 1990.
While post-Christmas sales advertise pieces of the wall available for purchase, a local radio personality has decided to take advantage of the thawing of the Cold War to ignite romantic sparks between her Southern California listeners and Germans.
Susan Block, who for three years has hosted a weekly call-in dating program called "Match Night" on KFOX-FM (93.5), will broadcast her New Year's Day show from West Germany. The show airs Mondays from 9 to 11 p.m.
Block has told her listeners that her intent is to "celebrate love, liberation and the fall of the Wall," though she will host the show from studios in Stuttgart, not Berlin.
"It's a dream come true for a matchmaker like me," Block said. "We'll be at the world's center of love and reunion this New Year's. It's part love, part matchmaking, part history."
The "aphrodisiac powers of freedom" will be the topic of the show, she said.
The self-described "hostess of the most personal show on the airwaves" is hoping to inspire amorous adventurers from East and West Germany to come to the United States to find love with those she introduces them to over the air. Or at least strike up some long-distance friendships.
A regular listener, who has twice been "matched" unsuccessfully on Block's show, said she hopes to meet an eligible German male by calling in.
"I think it's an interesting way to meet someone," said Jacquelyn Taylor, a 33-year-old saleswoman who lives in Glendale. "With all this going on in Berlin, I think there's going to be a lot of really good-looking German men coming over here."
Block, 34--and single--is confident that her dating formula can be translated overseas. She doesn't speak German but plans to broadcast from the Berlitz Studios in Stuttgart.
"Meeting over the radio is convenient," she said. "You don't have to dress up, you don't have to go anywhere. And the phone is just a real relaxing way to reach out and touch someone. Everyone's so exhausted these days . . . and meeting people is so stressful."
This is not the first time Block has ventured out of Southern California to play matchmaker. Three months ago, she broadcast a show from Paris.
"Come on, leap across the continents, baby," Block said to open the show. "I'm here with several interesting, eligible Parisian men and women-- les hommes and les femmes --and they want to get personal with you. Some of them will be traveling to Southern California in the future and they're eager to make new California friends live over the airwaves tonight."
The format of the German show will be much the same as the local version: Callers describe themselves and their interests and are then introduced to prospective dates who have been screened beforehand to get a sense of their compatibility. The couples discuss their views on romance and are given free dinners or tickets from advertisers.
Brian Gilstrap, a 29-year-old party disc jockey who called in and was matched up with someone in November, said he likes the anonymity of the radio program.
"It kind of reminded me of 'Love Connection' without the embarrassment of getting on TV," said Gilstrap. "If it didn't work, you didn't have to make a fool of yourself and nobody really knows about it."
"You can't tell physical chemistry over the air, but you can tell personality and certain bits of chemistry," Block explains.
The Yale-educated Block got started as a broadcast matchmaker four years ago, shortly after writing a book entitled "Advertising for Love: How to Play the Personals." She began guesting on television programs plugging her book and suggesting how singles could meet someone of the opposite sex. Her own matchmaking show seemed the logical next step.
"I thought, 'Hmm, this would be a very interesting talk format, plus it would be a service for the community,' " Block said.
The first show, sponsored by the L.A. Weekly, debuted in 1985 on KIEV.
Since then, Block said, she has done 162 shows and introduced an estimated 5,000 people ranging from their teens to their 60s, the majority in their 20s and 30s and "mostly yuppies."
"It's busy people that I'm interested in," she said. "People on the move who don't have time to meet each other. I find that people don't want to put themselves in crowded rooms that much anymore. And if they are in a crowded room, it's usually for business, and they don't want to mix business and pleasure. . . . This is an opportunity to use communications technology in this very basic, primitive thing of meeting people."
She says some have found spouses via the airwaves.
Carolina Cisneros, a 36-year-old hotel manager from Corona, is getting married in February to Warren Fonseca, a housepainter from Riverside, after being introduced on Block's show about a month ago. She said it was virtually love at first listen.
"I never felt like this towards anybody else in my life," said Cisneros, who is divorced. "It was very fast, but we have so much in common. We both hate pickles on our hamburgers, can you believe that? My family is all shocked. My friends think it's neat. They asked me for the number so they can call in, too. "