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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

It's always funny until someone gets hurt. Or dies.

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Admit it.  You laughed.

You and a lot of the rest of the world thought that an Australian radio duo's little prank involving Princess Kate and a London hospital was great fun--the couple pretending to be the Queen of England and Prince Charles, asking about the pregnant wife of Prince Harry who was being treated for severe morning sickness, actually getting through to a nurse who told the two that Kate "was no longer retching."

Tee hee.  She said "retching."  I thought it was funny, too.

And then someone died.

One of the nurses who fielded the call is dead, the thought being that she probably committed suicide.   The radio duo is in hiding, off the air and getting counseled.   And a lot of the same people who laughed, who thought the bit was hilarious while wondering how the nurses could be so stupid as to be dumped in such a primitive manner are now tongue-clucking about it's inappropriateness.

Having been on the business end of my share of radio stunts in my past professional life, I can only offer this: when partner Bob Reitman and I pulled such things, our mantra was always the same--never be mean.  Sure, we embarrassed our share of wake-up call victims and probably angered a number of folks who didn't groove on our brand of radio.   The thing that put us on the map--the Cabbage Patch Doll Drop--ended with people actually showing up at County Stadium to see if a World War II vintage plane would actually drop toys from the sky into the arms of credit-card-holding listeners in the parking lot.   We never thought anyone would actually BELIEVE such a thing was going to happen.  A few did, though, enough to turn a day-after-Thanksgiving on-air thumb-sucker into one of our signature moments.

I'm sure the Australians who called the London hospital didn't think the routine would end up like this.  And, for a few days, they were the hottest thing in the business, no doubt sparking the interest of countless imitators waiting to do something similar when they'd get a chance. 

If there's any outrage, it should be over the fact that there weren't protocols in place at the hospital to keep such a thing from happening.   Anyone ever hear of something called a "password"?   And what about the obsession many of us in the U-S have over royals who have absolutely no impact or influence on our lives?   Network morning shows on this side of the ocean lead their newscasts with stories about Kate's new hair style or latest purse and went into overdrive when word got out about her pregnancy, sending correspondents overseas as if we'd invaded London.   If we didn't watch, they wouldn't do it.

We ate it up, though, and couldn't wait for more.   We laughed when the radio stunt first happened.   And then, someone died.

It's always funny, until someone gets hurt.   It's not funny that so many who at first giggled are now acting as if this was a bad idea from the get-go.   It's phony, after-the-fact outrage.  

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