April Fooled: How We Got Robin

Robin Young was a good sport when we pulled our April Fools' prank on her.
Robin Young was a good sport when we pulled our April Fools' prank on her.

by Kevin Sullivan, H&N producer

In case you missed it, we pulled a great April Fools' Day prank on Robin Young (and many of you in the audience) with our story, "Social Media Experiment: Twitter Takes Over Radio Airwaves."  Be sure to listen to the story all the way to the end, where we finally let Robin in on the gag.

The premise: a small, public radio station on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (my old stomping grounds) decided to turn over its airwaves to its Twitter stream.

First, I had to build some credibility for the story. So, I copied the formatting from a well-known news organization, and created a story in Microsoft Word. Here's a snapshot of what that looked like:

Fake Twitter article

Looks convincing, right?

Then, I pitched the story to our managing editor, Chris Ballman and senior producer, Kathleen McKenna (who thought the radio station manager was a fool, but liked the story). Once I revealed to them it was a joke, they were in!

Next, I needed an accomplice. Our former colleague, Jon Peck, turned out to be a willing partner in crime. Jon suggested a website called Xtranormal, which creates movies based on information that you type. For my purposes, I could type fake tweets and the website would read them in an automated voice (it even lets you add music). Perfect!

I was afraid Robin would want to check out the station herself, so I created a fake Twitter feed for the fake radio station. Simple, but effective.

Then it was time for the interview.

In case you missed the full story, be sure to give it a listen. And knowing Robin, I will need to be careful of her turning the tables on me NEXT April 1st.


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