April Fooled: How We Got Robin

This article is more than 8 years old.
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.

This program aired on April 1, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Support the news

+Join the discussion

Support the news