However you want to imagine the place - that's how it looks. I do know this: I sit at a long boomerang-patterned formica counter; the cups are porcelain, the jukebox is from the mid-50s, and the phone on the wall is a classic rotary-dial payphone with a nice loud bell. No air conditioning; the windows open up so you can hear the crickets, conversation, cars passing by. The menu has every staple food you'd want, and the chef takes requests - ask for gogh, served live, and you'll get a wiggling plate.
Conversation tends to wander. Whatever I start the night blathering about takes a right turn within the first ten minutes, and we're off. A typical night will begin with a question about who first publicly ate a tomato to prove it wasn't poisonous, and will end up discussing a little known Archie 3000 A.D. comic book. In between, various reports from the regulars - Habanero Jim describes his attempts to woo a mysterious lady, Rich the Ex-Green Beret gives a chortling comment on the subject of the day, Lon from Eagan checks in to report on his basement cyclotron, and Lance calls to add a detail to some obscure pop culture reference. And so on until midnight.
In the earlier version of this site I described how my main goal was to hit the post at top of the hour - say the station ID just as the news came on. This is no longer possible. Every night the clock is off a few more seconds, and every night I end up talking over the news or stopping a second too early. It's never perfect, but it's exactly the kind of show I always wanted to do. It won't last, but that's fine; on the first night, I said that the Diner was here before I arrived and it'll be here after I've left. I don't work there and I don't own it. I'm happy they let me in the building every night.
Spoken like a man whose livelihood doesn't depend on the ratings, eh?