Saturday, August 22, 2009

smile and grin at the change

A morning radio bit bummed me out on Friday. My wife and I had each taken the day off from work to bring our son back to college. We left Knoxville early enough that I was able to hear several different morning shows as we drove through Tennessee and into Kentucky. One of the shows did a segment that was either fake or illegal.

Because of the current climate in radio, I am reasonably sure that the bit I heard was faked. I can't imagine that any morning team would risk the FCC fine for a true phone scam. Pretending to be a police officer, one of the deejays placed a call to a man at work. Supposedly his wife suspected him of cheating on her. The fake cop told the man that his co-worker (and suspected girlfriend) was being investigated for theft. The girl's alibi was that she was out with the married man. The mark confirmed that he and she were at a Daughtry concert together on the night in question. Since I was convinced it wasn't real, I lost interest and changed the station.

The FCC's rules on the outgoing phone calls placed by radio stations are quite clear. The radio station must obtain permission to broadcast or record the voice of someone they call. The permission must be obtained before the person's voice is ever recorded or aired. Obviously, this rule makes it nearly impossible for a deejay to place a call and pretend to be someone else. It is not okay to record a prank phone call and then get permission to broadcast it once the joke has been revealed.

During my brief visit to Morning Show Bootcamp earlier this month, I spoke with the representatives from several showprep services. In exchange for running daily commercials, the services provide radio stations with jokes, celebrity news, audio clips and interviews. One of the pitchmen told me that his service now offers a cast of actors to interact with the deejays. The fake listeners are available in a variety of regional dialects. They were pitched to me as "phone starters," opinionated callers who can inspire real listeners to call in. I suppose you could also hire the actors to be on the receiving end of a "Candid Phone" scam.

Ultimately, I changed the station because I felt like the deejays were trying to fool me and the other listeners instead of trying to fool the husband on the phone. Audiences who like phone scams want to feel like they are in on the prank, not on the receiving end of it.

Labels: ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Anonymous Will said...

Are those FCC rules new? I know a local station that does these sorts of prank calls or at least used to do them fairly often. It didn't sound like the calls were faked or that the person had been informed beforehand.

Thanks for the information. I always learn something new on your blog.

Blogger Frank Murphy said...

No, the rules are not new. When I worked with D&M at WAVA all those years ago, we got busted on that exact rule. For years many stations would air outgoing calls and hope they didn't get caught. If necessary, they would pay the fine like you or I would pay a speeding ticket. Nowadays no station has the money to pay the fine or to pay the lawyers who have to respond to an FCC complaint.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home