Seattle radio personalities defend Australian DJ pranksters
We’re “shattered, gutted, heartbroken.”
Two Australian radio announcers, who made a prank call to a British hospital treating Prince William’s pregnant wife Kate, broke a three-day silence Monday and cried as they described how horrible they feel after the nurse who took their call committed suicide.
Radio personalities Mel Greig and Michael Christian both say they are “so sorry” for the call that they never thought would go through.
“It was designed to be stupid,” Greig says in an interview with the Australian Current Affair TV show. “It was meant to be a silly little prank that so many people have done before.”
Nurse Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead Friday after putting the hoax call through to a colleague who unwittingly disclosed details of Kate’s morning sickness to the DJs.
A recording of the call was broadcast by stations around the world, while newspapers printed a transcript of the call.
“Unfortunately I remember that moment very well, because I haven’t stopped thinking about it since it happened,” Greig says, as she cried while being interviewed.
She says after hearing about the suicide, the first thing she wanted to know was whether the nurse was a “mum.”
Saldanha had two children.
“I’ve wanted to just reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry. I hope they’re okay, I really do. I hope they get through this,” Greig says. “I hope that they get the love, the support, the care that they need, you know.”
This wasn’t Christian’s first stunt. A couple of weeks before the prank call, he angered fellow passengers with a harmonica playing stunt aboard pop star Rihanna’s private jet.
Asked if he would do something like this again, Christian avoided a direct answer.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted what would have happened,” he says. “It was just a tragic set of circumstances.”
“There is nothing that could make me feel worse than I do right now,” Greig adds, “We are so sorry.”
The 2DayFM radio show’s parent company has received thousands of complaints about the radio duo. They’ve both been taken off air. Their show was cancelled and an investigation is underway into the radio stunt.
Seattle morning radio host John Curley, with KIRO Radio, thinks taking the radio personalities off the air is the wrong move.
“By getting rid of them, the conversation doesn’t continue and the issue is completely ignored,” Curley says. “If you leave them on the air, it leaves the wound there and it allows the audience to experience their growth, we get a chance to see them become different people.”
“The Australian DJs merely performed a staple of radio – one that has been outlawed here in the US. They meant no harm but there’s a good reason why we have to ask permission before recording phone calls,” says Arik Korman, director of The Bob Rivers Show on KJR FM. “The DJs should be suspended but not lose their jobs. They have learned an important life lesson.”
Luke Burbank, with KIRO’s late morning talk show Ross and Burbank, says he feels bad for the Australian DJs.
“We need to take a moment and realize there were probably other things going on in this nurse’s life that we don’t know about,” Burbank says, “It’s unfair to blame them [the DJs] for the death.”
B.J. Shea agrees with Burbank. “It’s a horrible tragedy for the family, but there had to be more going on that we don’t know,” says host of KISW’s BJ Shea Morning Experience.
Shea points out FCC rules in the U.S. do not allow prank calling people without their prior knowledge.
He adds that ratings success or failure is the “ultimate resolution” for any radio show.
Dori Monson doesn’t believe Saldanha’s role in the call was the sole reason she chose to commit suicide. He thinks it’s unfair the show was canceled.
“I think it’s outrageous the way their company has handled this,” says Monson. “They recorded the call. They didn’t do it live on the air. Their attorneys for the radio station listened to the call and they pre-approved it running on the air.”
I’m not surprised Seattle personalities would support their Australian peers, but I disagree with my radio friends.
I didn’t snicker along with some of the above radio personalities who played the prank call to Kate’s room repeatedly on their talk shows. I think it was appropriate to fire the DJs for the stunt, if nothing else so it’ll send a message to other wacky radio people that their actions have consequences.
We can’t know what was going on in the mind of the nurse who killed herself, but that’s the reality we face every day when we turn our microphones on.
We never know how our words will impact others, so raise the bar guys and stop thinking humor at someone’s expense is entertaining.
By LINDA THOMAS