January 09, 2013
Radio Stations Practical Jokes
The purpose of my paper is to discuss the ethical obligation radio stations, their owners, sponsors and employees have to the listening audience when practical jokes are played on someone unsuspecting. I would think there have been practical jokes as long ago as humans first discovered a sense of humor and they will continue until the end of the world. I could only hope that those who dream up these many times funny and embarrassing situations would use common sense to try and minimize the damage that could be done.
One of the oldest radio pranks was played on America in the 1930's. Radio plays were popular in those days and are a lot like television sitcoms or daytime drama. The only difference is that everything had to be heard and our imaginations were put to more use. "Invasion from Mars" was played on the radio as a Halloween joke on October 30th, 1938, which ended up freaking out most of the people who heard it. The script was that invaders from Mars landed in New Jersey and were destroying our people and land with death rays. Most people believed it to be credible because it was broadcast as real-time news. Thousands of Americans after hearing this "news" were sent flying out of their houses, into their cars, and jamming up the roads with traffic for miles on end. In the state of New Jersey itself, there were families tying wet cloths around their faces to escape gas attacks. People also phoned the newspapers, CBS, which was the station that aired this radio program, and even police to ask what they should do about the invaders and how to stay safe. At the end of "Invasion from Mars", the quote, "If your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian... it's Halloween" was said. However, you can imagine how most people would not have heard this as they were in a...