April Fool's Day Radio Hoaxes
Parking Fees Reduced.
A Vienna, Austria radio station reported that the city had decided to reduce parking permit fees, and that car drivers would be able to buy permits in tobacco shops and hand them to police officers in case of need. One police officer called the radio station to ask, "Could you please give me more details on the new order as I have not heard from my superiors yet." [The Washington Post, Apr 2, 1970.]
Europeans To Drive On Left Side.
French state-run radio announced that European motorists would soon be required to drive on the left side of the road, in order to help British drivers when they joined the Common Market. Almost immediately the radio station began receiving hundreds of phone calls from enraged French motorists. As a result, the station quickly confessed that the story was a hoax.
La Fornication Comme Une Acte Culturelle.
BBC Radio 3's In Parenthesis program were treated to a roundtable discussion of a few cutting-edge new works of social anthropology and musicology. First up was a discussion of La Fornication Comme Une Acte Culturelle by Henri Mensonge (translated as Henry Lie). This book argued that "we live in an age of metaphorical rape" in which "confrontation, assault, intrusion, and exposure are becoming validated transactions, the rites of democracy, of mass society." This sparked a blisteringly incomprehensible debate, which eventually segued into an exploration of the question "Is 'Is' Is?" Finally, the audience heard a rousing deconstruction of the 'arch form' of the sonata's first motif. Listeners seemed to accept the program's discussion as a legitimate exploration of new trends in the arts. However, it was a parody.
Dutch Government Shares Budget Surplus.
A Dutch radio program announced that the government planned to distribute its budget surplus equally among tax-payers. The announcement received an excited response from listeners eager for their share.
Foley Island to be Towed.
BBC Radio 4’s Today Show also reported about a controversy involving the Island of Foley, located between Sheppey and the Kent Coast. Apparently the island was the cause of numerous shipwrecks. Therefore, authorities had decided to destroy it. However, because this decision had been protested by conservationists, authorities had decided to tow it somewhere safer instead. Towing islands has been a source of jokes as far back as 1824, when a hoaxer supposedly had the residents of Manhattan believing that their island was going to be towed out to sea.
Radio Merseyside in Britain reported about a ‘bionic’ horse. The broken leg of this horse had been replaced with a plastic leg that gave the horse more spring in its step. As a result, the horse was said to be favored to win the Grand National.
An announcement was made in Berne, Switzerland that a protest was being held outside of the parliament buildings. The protestors were said to be topless women who were demonstrating in support of nude beaches. The announcement caused hundreds of men to descend upon the parliament buildings. Unfortunately for them, they found no women there.
An Ipswich radio station reported there were plans for the construction of a tunnel under the North Sea, connecting Felixstowe in England with Zeebrugge, Belgium. The station claimed that 800 Felixstowe homes would have to be bulldozed to make way for a terminal and that digging would begin on April 1, 1981. Listeners jammed the switchboard. "We were amazed that so many people were taken in," the station admitted later.
Reagan Heads Barstow Parade.
Radio station KIOT in Barstow, California announced that a parade was to be held through the city, and that President Reagan would participate in it as the grand marshal. A few people showed up and waited in the heat for the parade (which had never been scheduled).
Drivers Must Wear Helmets.
Alison St. John, a radio reporter for KPBS, the San Diego affiliate of NPR, warned that San Diego would be pelted by hail "the size of duck eggs." Terry Boyd of Metro Traffic followed up this announcement by warning that all drivers "must wear a helmet."
NPR's All Things Considered interviewed Reed Summers, winner of a "Mouth Sounds" competition in Belleville, Illinois. Summers explained that "mouth sounders" use their mouth, tongue, teeth, lips, and vocal chords to create a variety of sounds, such as the sound of an angry cockatoo, a goose, a train, and Bach's Toccata — all of which he demonstrated in the studio. As the interview with Summers progressed, the sounds he made grew increasingly elaborate and realistic, causing host Robert Siegel eventually to declare, "If I hadn't seen you doing that in front of me just now, I would have assumed that was a recording." Summers attributed his mouth-sounding skill to the fact that he didn't speak until he reached the age of 10, but instead spent his childhood listening to the sounds around him.
The Today program on BBC Radio 4 announced that the British National anthem ("God Save the Queen") was to be replaced by a Euro Anthem sung in German. The new anthem, which Today played for their listeners, used extracts from Beethoven's music and was sung by pupils of a German school in London. Reportedly, Prince Charles's office telephoned Radio 4 to ask them for a copy of the new anthem. St. James Palace later insisted that it had been playing along with the prank and had not been taken in by it.
St. Louis Arena Fund.
Rick Sanborn, a deejay for KLOU-FM in St. Louis, revealed to his listeners that a $24 million trust fund had recently been discovered that would be distributed to local residents. The trust fund had supposedly been established by the builder of the local sports Arena in 1929. He had left instructions to distribute the money to locals should the Arena ever be torn down. Since it was torn down in 1999, his order would go into effect. The money would be paid to anyone who held a St. Louis birth certificate issued after 1929. They would receive $1000 for every year of their age. Sanborn included fake reports and interviews along with his announcement. As a result of the prank, the St. Louis Citizens Service Bureau received over 75 calls before Sanborn revealed that the story was a hoax.
April 1st To Be National Holiday.
Radio Russia reported that the Russian parliament was considering a proposal to declare April 1st a public holiday: "Telephone jokes, absurd tasks for managers, warnings that the power, light or heat is to be cut off and other practical jokes are much more extravagant then than on other days. As a result, expert analysis shows, industrial efficiency in Russia falls," the report explained. By declaring the day a national holiday, efficiency would be maintained.
Interview With President Carter.
Michael Enright, host of the Sunday Edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Corpation's radio program This Morning, interviewed former President Jimmy Carter on the air. The interview was about softwood lumber, since Carter had recently written an editorial piece in the New York Times criticizing Canada's heavily subsidized lumber industry. However, the interview took a turn for the worse when Enright began telling Carter to speed up his answers. Then Enright asked, "I think the question on everyone's mind is, how did a washed-up peanut farmer from Hicksville such as yourself get involved in such a sophisticated bilateral trade argument?"
Carter seemed stunned by the insult. Finally he replied, "Excuse me? A washed-up pig farmer? You're one to talk, sir. Didn't you used to be on the air five times a week?" The tone of the interview did not improve from there. Carter ended up calling Enright a "rude person" before he hung up. Enright then revealed that the interview had been fake. The Toronto comedian Ray Landry had been impersonating Carter's voice.
The interview generated a number of angry calls from listeners who did not find the joke funny. But the next day the controversy
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