Nothing funny about prank - Taranaki radio man

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
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Former The Most FM station manager Dave Haskell.
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The ex-station manager of Taranaki's The Most FM has added his voice to the global condemnation of the radio station whose prank ended in the death of a nurse in Britain.

Australian broadcasters Michael Christian and Mel Greig of 2Day FM prank-called King Edward VII hospital claiming to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, and were told details of the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who was suffering from acute morning sickness.

The pair's call was forwarded to the duchess' hospital ward by nurse Jacintha Saldanha.

Saldanha later died in an apparent suicide after the call gained worldwide notoriety.

Station manager at The Most FM for 11 years and former DJ at The Rock FM, Dave Haskell, said he failed to see the funny side of the prank.

"It's bad taste. If these people were trying to gain credit through the sickness of my wife, I'd be very upset. Someone's pregnant and in hospital, royal or not, it's a serious time."

He said it was very difficult to determine a rule of thumb for radio pranks.

"Where is the line, it keeps moving.

"I think this is the line."

He said there was simple rule DJs could follow.

"If in doubt, leave it out.

"I'd say there would have been some doubt in this one."

He said the incident would probably see the tightening of policies and procedures regarding pranks for radio stations across the New Zealand and Australia.

"They've learnt a bloody harsh lesson."

But radio shock jock Iain Stables said most people in the entertainment industry would have played that phone call, himself included.

"Every time you open the microphone you run the risk of destroying your career. It's part of the adrenalin rush of being on air.

He said the media industry would not admit it but humiliation got ratings.

"Exploitation and humiliation are the biggest money-makers other than sex. Prank calls are not going to stop."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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