The Aussie radio prank that went wrong

December 07, 2012 12:43 AM ‐ Radio

I feel bad for Southern Cross Austero. It's really sad what happened to the nurse involved in their radio phone prank.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian

Obviously this is a really sad story. Michael and Mel, the hosts of Hot30, a national nightly countdown show in Australia, pranked the hospital which Kate Middleton was recently admitted to as the news of her pregnancy broke.

Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse at the hospital took a call from the two presenters putting on accents and trying to badly pass themselves off as the Queen and Prince Charles. The nurse put the DJs through to the Duchess' ward. The prank went on to make it in to world news but sadly today, the nurse involved was found dead.

Admittedly, the prank was really bad, but I don't think in bad taste - it was very light hearted, even Prince Charles made a statement joking about the call. Their British accents were terrible, they giggled through the whole call and were totally unconvincing. It got slated in British press, probably because the joke was on us but their Aussie listeners seemed to embrace it. The next night callers to the show put on English accents themselves when voting for their favourite songs.

It was a stupid prank but it wasn't malicious and I think they were expecting it to be a failed one. I'm pretty sure they thought they would be stopped as soon as the phone was answered, but amazingly they got through to the ward.

No one could have ever predicted that such a stupid radio stunt could have had such a sad ending. Before today's news, even Prince Charles made a statement, joking about the call he said "how do you know I'm not a radio station?" - odd.

It's not the first time Austereo have pushed the boundaries and caught the attention of world press. Back in 2009, 2Day FM came under fire after a poorly researched lie detector feature lead to a 14-year-old girl making the shock confession live on air that she was raped two years prior.

We all know even bad publicity can be good marketing and the network initially cashed in on the chatter surrounding the Royal prank call and made a video tease for the next night's showing, knowing it would again get them in the press.

Following today's news both presenters have voluntarily stepped down from the show, which given the circumstances is the right thing to do. At the time of writing this, I don't think the broadcaster has released an official statement. I'd hope that the palace also do their bit to help out the family.


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