It’s time to call time on stupid radio pranks

IS there anything lazier or lamer than a radio "gotcha" prank?

You know the ones, where a person is led to believe something - and has no reason not to believe it - before being exposed as a gullible fool by a gloating presenter.

It's the radio equivalent of extending your hand to someone to shake, then whipping it back. It's not clever, it's not original, and the humour, such as it is, is derived from the other person looking like a dummy for taking in good faith what someone else was telling them. Sucked in!


Today's example is pretty minor on the scale of things.

Adelaide Crows captain Tex Walker was told he was to interview Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers for Triple M in Adelaide. He was actually talking to The Chaser's Andrew Hansen, who proceeded to make fun of Walker's name and generally behave like a jerk. Cut to the reveal - Ha ha! You're not talking to Brandon Flowers at all, you big dummy!

Slow clap.

I've never understood the point of these pranks. If they're directed at the pompous and the hypocritical they can possibly be classified as satire. Ali G in his original form probably just squeaked into this category. But when comedian Sacha Baron Cohen came up with Borat and stated pranking generally well-meaning and polite people just trying to help him or do their jobs I was out.

Tex Walker thought he was talking to Brandon Flowers.
Tex Walker thought he was talking to Brandon Flowers.

When Kyle and Jackie O moron "Intern Pete" crashed a press conference with a devastated Australian cricket captain Steve Smith to ask a stupid question about Married at First Sight he was immediately condemned by pretty much everyone (other than Kyle himself, quelle surprise).

A mean prank on New Zealand radio last year which caused a national outcry left one producer in tears after she unwittingly arranged an interview with what she thought was Tom Cruise for a host, but turned out to be a Tom Cruise impersonator organised by a rival radio station.

In the catalogue of things wrong with the world radio pranks rank pretty low, but there's no doubt they're a form of low-level bullying.

And of course, they can have tragic consequences, like the infamous royal prank which saw a London nurse take her life after being convinced she was talking to the Queen and divulging information about Kate Middleton's medical condition.

The dumb stunt Triple M played on Tex Walker this morning was no big deal, really. There's a good chance he doesn't even care.

But I really can't think of anyone who actually gets pleasure or entertainment out of the mild humiliation of someone who's done nothing to deserve it, so why do radio stations keep serving it up?

There's a lot of airtime to fill and huge competition for attention and ratings, but it can be done without this kind of meanness.

Hamish and Andy managed it with very few exceptions throughout their radio career.

I would honestly rather listen to dead air than someone undeserving being made to feel a bit of a dick.

There's no human on earth who can't instantly cast their mind back to a time when they felt a fool, and it would take a peculiar kind of sociopath to enjoy seeing that happen to someone else.

So let's pull the plug on these dumb pranks.

Stick some Ed Sheeran on instead if you can't think of anything else to do.