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The FCC has charged a Pittsburgh radio station a $6000 fine for a Thanksgiving day hoax in which the station told listeners they were giving away one-million dollars to the thirteenth caller. There wasn't actually any money, but they kept one guy on hold for 45 minutes, making him believe he had won.

I can see the FCC's point. A million-dollar prize isn't something that's inherently unbelievable. So for the radio station to claim it had the money when it didn't isn't exactly an amusing hoax. It's more like a blatant lie.
Categories: Radio
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 06, 2009
Comments (10)
Following up on last week's post about the confrontation between US and Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, the mysterious threat that the U.S. ships received -- the one in which they heard someone say "I am coming to you... You will explode after... minutes" -- is now being attributed to the "Filipino Monkey."

The Filipino Monkey is apparently a prankster who interjects obscenities and threats into ship-to-ship radio communications in the Persian Gulf. Or rather, it's many pranksters. The name "Filipino Monkey" now serves as a generic term for rogue radio operators in the Middle East.

I became intrigued by the Filipino Monkey phenomenon, so I did some research into it and posted what I found in a brief article in the Hoaxipedia.

Apparently the "Filipino Monkey" dates back to around 1984 during the Iran-Iraq War. It was probably originally one person, but he soon spawned many imitators.

It's a surreal prank, to say the least. You have heavily armed military ships engaging in tense standoffs, and during these very serious situations you suddenly have an idiot bursting on the radio with exclamations such as, "Come and get my ba-NAAAAAAN-a!"
Categories: Military, Pranks, Radio
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 15, 2008
Comments (9)
Status: Publicity stunt
When I first read this article I thought it was an example of satire masquerading as news. Now, however, I think it's just a publicity stunt:
Kingsburg-based KFYE, FM 106.3, offered Christian programming until a week ago. In a neck-snapping, did-I-really-hear-that? turn of events, it now provocatively calls itself "Porn Radio" — presenting a mix of music, moans and suggestive announcements... The station's titillating playlist runs from "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" by The Beatles, to "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye, to "Strokin'" by Clarence Carter, to "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred and "Nasty" by Janet Jackson — a bewildering, genre-bending array of tunes sewn together by one bare thread: sex. Even when the sexual suggestions in a tune may be a little vague, such as in Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," the songs are often accented with recorded moans and groans of a woman who appears to be in throes of ecstasy.
Categories: Radio, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 31, 2006
Comments (9)
Former congressman and current MSNBC political commentator Joe Scarborough has had to apologize for claiming that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to blow up the moon. Scarborough had criticized Schwarzenegger for making the following remark:

"If we get rid of the moon, women, those menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get (pre-menstrual syndrome). They will stop bitching and whining."

But although it's very believable that our Governor would have said something like that, in this case he was innocent. The remarks were actually made by a Schwarzenegger impersonator on the Howard Stern show.
Categories: Celebrities, Radio
Posted by Alex on Thu May 12, 2005
Comments (9)
Every day when my wife drives home from work (here in San Diego) she tunes in to radio station Star 100.7 to listen to a show called 'The Daily Dirt' (which is basically entertainment gossip). Today she was surprised to discover that the station had abruptly switched to a 'classic rock' format that randomly plays songs from the 80's, 90's, and the present. Plus, it was no longer Star 100.7. It was now Jack 100.7. Even the DJs were different. She thought it might be some kind of belated April Fool's Day prank. But when she got home we did some research and learned it was no prank.

Apparently this is happening to radio stations across the country (and in Canada). Suddenly the management will fire all the staff, rename the station something like Jack or Bob or Doug FM (it's always a guy's name), and switch to a random-play format. Audiences aren't given any warning, so they often think it's a prank.

I think this is a scheme cooked up by marketers to maximize profits. The management tries to spin the random-play thing as them being daring enough to 'play whatever they want', but in reality they're just saving money by having a computer in shuffle-mode pick the songs. Then they fire all the staff (except for the morning show usually), and replace them with lower-paid substitutes who mumble phrases from a corporate script in between the songs.

I never listened to Star 100.7 that much, so the change won't affect me in any way. But it does seem strange that all these stations are being renamed Jack or Bob or Doug and transformed into glorified iPods on shuffle mode. I figure that it must be one company behind it all, but I don't know who it is.
Categories: Radio
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 07, 2005
Comments (87)
image Leave a message on Endless Echoes' answering machine, and for only $24.95 they'll beam it into outer space, where it will theoretically travel forever. They bill it as the perfect way to send a message to loved ones who have died (why dead people would get the message in outer space, I don't know). I think the service would be better targeted at lonely hearts in search of alien companionship (Single White Female ISO Single Green Alien). But the whole thing has a hoaxy feel to it... along the lines of those companies that offer to name a star after you, or sell people plots of land on the moon. Why not just call up a radio station and dedicate a song to someone if you really need to send out a message as a radio broadcast? At least that way someone would have a chance of actually hearing what you say.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Radio
Posted by Alex on Sun Jun 20, 2004
Comments (7)
orson welles The Toronto Star has an article about the 1938 War of the Worlds panic (the anniversary of which is today)... and they quote me in it! The article argues that the mass panic was much smaller than is popularly thought. I'm inclined to agree with this. My reasons are:

  1. being familiar with the way in which stories about hoaxes are told, I know that the impact hoaxes make is often exaggerated in order to tell a better story. So it sounds a lot more dramatic to say that one million people panicked in 1938, but the truth is that it was probably only a few thousand.

  2. I suspect that the media reported every incident of anomalous behavior that night as evidence of a panic (i.e. every speeding car, every suicide, all loud behavior), whether or not it actually had anything to do with the panic at all;

  3. there really was some chaos in Grover's mill, where the main panic was said to have occurred, but that's because a lot of young people drove into Grover's Mill after hearing the broadcast because they thought CBS might be hosting some kind of event there... in other words, they were searching for a party, not panicking.

  4. Most recollections of the panic turn out to have come from reading newspaper reports about it, not from direct first-hand experience.

Categories: Mass Delusion, Radio
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 30, 2003
Comments (0)
A radio station admits to being the creator of a crop circle.
Categories: Crop Circles, Radio
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 08, 2003
Comments (0)
Philadelphia DJ claims on air that his traffic reporter has one of the winning tickets for the $230 million Powerball lottery. A media frenzy ensues, followed by outrage when it all turns out to be a hoax.
Categories: Radio
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 14, 2003
Comments (0)
Miami deejays hoax Fidel Castro with a prank phone call. It's the same pair that earlier hoaxed Hugo Chavez.
Categories: Radio
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 18, 2003
Comments (0)
Visitor Michael Melen wrote in with a description of a radio hoax from the mid '80s:

"Baltimore had recently undergone a revival of its downtown area, centered on the Inner Harbor development. A radio ad trumpeted the newest addition to Baltimore's Inner Harbor: the world's very first underwater shopping mall called the Loch Ness Mall. The ad went on to describe how wonderful the mall would be and when it would open. It turned out to be a concoction of a radio advertising group, hoping to display the power of
radio advertising... It was a very beguiling ad!"
Categories: Radio
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 05, 2003
Comments (0)
Yesterday there was this story about radio pranksters calling up Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and tricking him into believing that he was talking to Fidel Castro.
Categories: Radio
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 09, 2003
Comments (0)
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