Nov. 1, 2005
Listeners to WXSS-FM (103.7) the last couple of days have been
wondering what's going on with a supposed hacking of the Web site for
the teen-skewing station better known as Kiss FM.
If you went to www.1037kissfm.com on Tuesday, you saw a picture of a
piece of paper with the hand-scrawled message reading: "I've got your
10 grand . . . I'll be in contact."
Listeners heard stories of $10,000 being held for "ransom" and the
supposed suspension of one of the morning gang, Wes McKane.
Relax, it's just another wacky radio stunt.
"It's called 'The Fugitive,' " explains program director Brian Kelly.
"The first listener to find the fugitive will win $10,000."
Kiss did a less elaborate version of the contest last year.
By late Tuesday afternoon, Kiss deejays were dropping more hints about
the competition, although the Web site remained held captive by the
And while we're talking stunts, Kiss' sister station, WMYX-FM (99.1),
aired a wacky holiday radio stunt last year, broadcasting a bogus spot
for a bogus power cooperative claiming that a ban on Christmas lights
would feature fines levied "per bulb."
The first rule of radio listening is that if you hear something that
sounds weird, switch to another radio station. If they're not talking
about it, it's likely to be happening only on that first station.
Of course, the goal of these wacky radio stunts is to keep you
listening. That's also the goal of radio contests.
THE RULES FOR WACKINESS: The Federal Communications Commission has
pretty loose guidelines about such stunts.
FCC guidelines deal specifically with "broadcasting false information
concerning a crime or a catastrophe," according to guidelines you can
find at ftp.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/falsebroadcast.html.
They're allowed, unless the broadcaster knows they're false, it's
known before the stunt is aired that it will cause "substantial public
harm" and the stunt actually does "directly cause substantial public
Interestingly, these rules date back to an incident that occurred 67
years ago this very week, the Oct. 30, 1938, Orson Welles broadcast of
a version of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" that was made to sound
like a news broadcast. It led to panic from radio listeners who
thought Martians had actually invaded.
If those folks had just turned to another station, they wouldn't have
been quite so scared.
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