Last week I watched the Current Affair interview with Michael Christian and Mel Greig – the two radio presenters responsible for the 2Day-FM ‘royal’ prank call with such tragic consequences.
Apparently, both the hosts are fragile and ‘shattered’ or ‘gutted.’ Not half as much as the family of the nurse who committed suicide after receiving the prank call and being ridiculed on air mercilessly for days afterwards.
Regardless of what I think of their sincerity – and it did look like management had trotted them out and told them to be repentant – there remain a number of serious questions, which Tracy Grimshaw failed to ask.
What ensued was what we can call The Nuremberg Defence – we only did what we were told to do. Neither host could say exactly who came up with the idea and who was responsible for allowing the call to go to air. We were also told that other people make that call and that all the hosts do is record the segments. As if!
Aren’t they working with a producer? If not the producer, then surely the station manager must take responsibility. (And, by the way, don’t you have to pity people who work in a radio setting where they have no say over the content?).
2Day management claims that someone (also unnamed) tried at least five times to contact the hospital in question and get permission. As the hospital spokesman pointed out they should have tried 500 hundred times if that is what it took to get the clearance.
Michael and Mel told us that no-one could have foreseen what happened as a result of their prank call. That is very true – and it is exactly what I tell Screen & Media students studying radio. It means you have to be very careful in what you say and what you do because you never know who is listening and what effect a careless remark will have.
(It is amazing the number of times that I have made a humorous remark on air only to have someone think I was serious. For example, I might mention that I bought something on Amazon and later have someone ask me when I am heading off to South America!).
In the case of 2Day-FM, however, it is fairly clear cut: the radio station (producers, managers etc) failed to get permission to use the prank call. Now the announcers will have to live with the consequences of the decision (or indecision) of someone else.