As you've guessed, the idea of a chatroom has definitely been discussed before. I went through the old threads and found Ron's most recent statement on the subject:
"Virtually all of the chat software needs to be run on both our server and on your local machine. When we tried, we discovered that some people could chat using one software package but not another, while others could only use a different package. It is that incompatibility that caused us to abandon the search. That's not to suggest we're not interested, but I'll admit I was discouraged from our previous attempts"
With all the changes that are being made in the forums though, maybe the idea of a chat room won't be so far-fetched in the future. Ron's a pretty fantastic guy, I wouldn't be surprised if he could make it work somehow (or pull a white rabbit from my purse, for that matter).