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Even though it seems likely to me that this unfortunate woman in England had a lot more going on in her life than the aftermath of a radio prank, it’s a good argument for a voluntary ban on radio hoaxes visited upon civilians. I have never seen the point of them, and in all my 16 years of goofing around on commercial radio, I never did one.  I think people who choose to live in the public eye are fair game for japery. I think people who call in to a radio show are, implicitly, joining the game, But regular people minding their own business should be off limits.

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15 thoughts on ““Pranks”

  1. Bill

    I recall many years ago, WRTC radio Trinity College played a practical joke on April 1. They mentioned that the then President had been shot – I think they said killed. It was either Reagan or Bush. After I realized it was a prank, I pulled my own prank and called the station pretending to be the regional FCC director in Boston. I demanded the station cease broadcasting immediately and that my agents were then on the way down from Boston to seal the station off and investigate.

    I don’t know if I was the cause of the station going off air, but it did.

    Later I called the station and and announced April Fool. I didn’t know if I could get into trouble so I immediately hung the phone up.

    I count that as one of my finer moments. I am glad I did it and I hope I scared the daylights out of the student who pulled the prank.

    1. Bill

      BTW, I pulled a few other practical jokes in my younger days some of which I am not so proud.

      I will never do those things again because playing such a joke is intended to make someone feel stupid.

      1. Bill

        Well, I might as well let this one into sunshine since it happened in the mid 1970s. Yes, I called the American embassy in Moscow and I can’t remember what the prank was but I remember that the phone number I was calling from was in the name of the previous tenant. As if this technical point would save me from trouble. I never did get into trouble for it. Yikes…

      2. Cynical Susan

        “…because playing such a joke is intended to make someone feel stupid.”

        Exactly, Bill. It’s not one of the finer human characteristics, but this desire to — what — feel superior? is too prevalent today in mainstream culture (including blog commentary, alas).

      1. Bill

        Thank you. I couldn’t view the link on my IPad but will try on later on my PC.

        Sat prank to confess. It was standard in my family in my childhood for mother to play one on us kids on April Fool’s Day. In the mid 1980s, Michel Jackson was playin Hartford on April 1st. In early morning, I called my then aging mother and told her that Jackson had been kidnapped and police had sealed off several blocks around the downtown Hilton. I knew she would call my sister from her downstairs apartment and by the time I drove over to the house, both of them were flicking the channels on the TV searching for news without success.

        I got them both real good that dmorning.

  2. V

    What this sad incident makes me think about is the issue of shame.

    Why some people feel it so deeply, especially when it appears to be so needlessly self-punishing, and others, whose actions one would think really merit shame, seem to feel none?

    I think often of John Rowland. I tune in to WTIC, and hear him giggling about Malloy’s supposed mismanagement. I hear him making fun of people who are “ripping off the system” by applying for mental health and substance abuse care benefits. I hear him criticizing the way “People these days” raise their kids or conduct their family life. I’m stunned by what seems like a lack of–shame? remorse? Humility? It’s almost frightening; that crazy, giggling arrogance in the face of his own deep failures.

    I’m so sad though, to hear of this nurse’s suicide.

    1. Bill

      WOW. I don’t know how to respond. If I was the husband putting that prank up, I would always fear that the wife would have the last laugh by probably screwing others and maybe even women just to really seal the deal. I wonder if the marriage held.

      Very odd.

    1. Bill

      I just listened again and I actually missed her saying how she screwd her husband’s brother.

      Now I am sure the husband has visiting rights to their child.

      Oh my God.

  3. Todd Zaino

    At least your prack as a FCC Director didn’t cause a divorce, and horrible relations between two brothers. I would have loved to have been a fly on wall at WRTC that day…imagine the scrambling, and racing out of the office that day.

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