Australian Radio Head Defends Death Jocks

Update:  The new spin is that the pranksters are “in hiding” and freaking out.

The two Australian DJs pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles are off the air for the time being but won’t be fired for scamming a nurse into blabbing about Kate Middleton‘s condition.  UK Telegraph.  The nurse committed suicide two days later.  UK Daily Mail.

Michael Christian’s Facebook brag:  “Less than a week in the job & I’ve already peaked.”

The Australian radio station owner refused to say whether the British nurse gave permission to the jocks to record that “lazy and artless” prank call that rendered the nurse “inconsolable and distraught.” Nearly 5,000 outraged people have signed a petition demanding the duo be fired.

Prank has its privilege.

“We followed procedure and we’re satisfied that procedure was met. We’re confident we’ve broken no rules. Prank calls as a craft in radio have been going for decades and decades.  They’re done worldwide.” Sydney Morning Herald.

(h/t Sydney Morning Herald)

My radio career started in 1971 at an ABC O&O in Detroit (WXYZ) where prank calls were a staple of legendary morning personality Dick Purtan.

Dick and his sidekick Tom Ryan recorded and broadcast hundreds of calls with clueless targets.

Should the Australian jocks be fired?

Related:  Jacintha Saldanha’s teenage daughter on Facebook:  “I miss you.”  The 46-year old nurse was married with two children.   NYDN.

Saturday, December 8, 2012 @ 9:06 AM

  • Anon

    The problem with the whole shock jock shtick is that each shock has to outdo, or out-shock its predecessor, which requires the shock jock to degenerate worse and worse as he tries to maintain his shock quota. I mean, seriously, does anyone think a shock jock would ever contrive a stunt where he committed an act of kindness?
    In this instance we see two card-carrying sociopaths taste the thrill of psychopathy and actually enjoy it, which certainly shocks me but for different reasons than they intended, I am sure.
    So to answer your question, “Should they be fired?” No, I think station manager should be terminated and the station razed to the ground, while these two should be publicly flogged, drawn, and quartered, and then held up as examples to anyone who may be tempted to adopt their bullying means of how healthy societies purge psychopaths from their midst.

    • Marty Davis

       But the ratings! 

    • John Cobb

      You will get higher ratings doing it Anon’s way. I am for it.

      But, just for ratings of course.

    • Marty Davis

       But of course!

    • Jimbotalk

      The problem shock jocks face, besides not having any taste or ethics, is the management mantra:
      E D G I E R!!!!!!!!
      Too edgy.  You’re fired.

    • Marty Davis

      You think they’ll get canned?

    • Jimbotalk

      Maybe not this time, Marty, but that’s what shock jocks always have to do:  dance close to the edge of the Grand Canyon…closer…closer…OOOOOOPSSSSSS!!!!

    • Marty Davis

      I see their Hot30 show has been canceled and the station “suspended” pranks.

      Can’t wait for the wrongful death lawsuit.

  • Roger Hawcroft

    Mel and Michael are not “shock jocks” those are people such as the outstanding bigots of Australia – those such as John Laws, Steve Price and the ultimate piece of ….. Alan Jones.  These are the ones who spread prejudice, hatred and disharmony for their own benefit.

    As any mental health worker or mentally ill person can tell you, it is highly unlikely that Mel and Michael caused the nurse to commit suicide.  At worst, their actions may have been a trigger but in all probability that trigger was her being thrown to the wolves by the hospital management ( a common occurrence by hospital executives and the bullying and prejudice she almost certainly received as part of nursing and hospital culture but also because she was Indian.

    Even if, her reaction was a direct result of the phone call, it cannot be blamed on Mel and Michael but should be layed fairly and squarely at the feet of the mindless worship of an anachronistic and parasitic monarchy which has no place in 21st Centry society.  That fact is that this incident would proably have gone virtually unremarked if “royals” had not been involved.

    It’s time we got the facts straight and supported these two.  At worst they are guilty of following a trend in daytime radio of playing pranks and they have nothing whatsoever to berate themselves for.

    I am just as empathetic to the sadness felt by the family and the tragedy of the nurse’s suicide but 24000 children DIE EACH DAY in the developing world, of starvation euphemistically called “malnutrition” – Malnutrition?  I’ll say.  It’s like calling suicide an unfortunate onset of illogical thinking that resulted in fatal consequences.

    The Australian Government should get some guts and tell the Poms to butt out and stick their potential legslation and charges up their arse.  And, at the same time and before we get another prime minister with the IQ of a fencepost and even less comassion, let’s get rid of Queenie and make this country a republic – it is long past time.

    • Marty Davis

      It seems as though the nurse was ridiculed by the hospital staff for falling for the ruse which appears to have led to her self-demise.

      As a radio veteran myself, I will concur, Roger, that Mel and Michael hardly meet the standard, if one wants to call it that, of “shock jocks.”

      At the time they were just morning show hosts. 

      Years ago I worked at a Detroit, Michigan radio station where the morning jock routinely made such phone calls. 

      It truly is unfortunate that the nurse killed herself but the jocks were merely the catalyst for a routine radio ruse gone awry.