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April Fools Radio Stunt Backfires

File it in the folder marked, "What were they thinking?"

WSTO-FM Evansville, Ind., morning drive DJs Brad Booker and Diane Douglas deliver doughnuts and coffee to local businesses as part of an ongoing station promotion. Yesterday, the pair had to use that coffee to down some crow.

They apologized on air and on the station Web site for an April Fools stunt suggesting something had happened to New York Yankees batting coach Don Mattingly. Mattingly is from Evansville and has family in the area.

"On paper, we thought this would be a joke that might get people talking," Booker said in his apology. It did, but not in the way they intended.  "Our idea was to mention several times that our thoughts and prayers were with the friends and family of Don Mattingly.  Later in the morning, we planned on stating that he had nicked himself shaving and we were concerned for him. Unfortunately, we did not realize the impact our statements would have on Don’s friends and family members." 

Mattingly was on travel in Japan at the time and so not immediately reachable, which naturally increased the anxiety level for friends and family.
"When we received calls from Don’s peers and classmates of his children who were naturally concerned," Booker continued, "our hearts sank.  It was then we realized the overwhelming impact of our ill-considered comment."

Tim Huelsing, from station parent South Central Radio Group, said the pair have assure him it will never happen again. He also met personally with the Mattingly family to apologize.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.