|Photo obtained from the Daily Mail website.|
It's probably not true that Guglielmo Marconi made the first on-air prank phone call to Alexander Graham Bell, but stupid prank calls have been part of the DJ's standard toolkit for many, many decades.
(You youngsters out there should listen to the Wolfman's telephone calls in the soundtrack next time American Graffiti is on cable. Prank calls weren't new in '62.)
So there was nothing odd or strange or malicious when a couple of Aussie DJs decided to prank call a London hospital to check up on the Duchess of Cambridge. The DJs were surprised their call got past the operator (they were doing rather bad impersonations of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles) but somehow they got through to a nurse on the floor.
That poor nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, apparently killed herself after she found out she'd been pranked.
Well, the DJs were taken off the air, and now fired, and the radio station canceled its Christmas party and has decided to donate all advertising revenues for the rest of the year to the nurse's family.
Here's my problem: Everything about this story seems so incredibly out of proportion, including in particular the nurse's apparent suicide. Why? What would drive someone to end their life because of a stupid radio bit?
And it was a stupid bit.
Personally, I think all such prank calls are stupid.
But lethal? I have a problem here.
British and Australian authorities think there may be another problem here, too. Supposedly the radio station and the hospital disagree over whether the hospital was informed, prior to the broadcast, that the hospital had been had.
The time difference alone made it impossible for the call to have been made live. After the call was recorded, the Australian station supposedly made five attempts to inform the management at London's King Edward VII Hospital about the prank call "to seek permission from Mrs. Saldanha and the other duped nurse to play the call." But the hospital not only denies granting permission, it claims that neither senior management or the company the hospital uses to field media inquiries heard anything from the station.
Somebody's fibbing. But why would anyone die because of it? Somehow I think there must be something more to this story than has been reported.