Public radio has a long history of pranking listeners on April 1st. Like the time listeners complained in droves to NPR about a story on farming whales in huge pools in Bellesville Illinois. And that time Weekend ATC reported the exciting discovery of Beethoven's lost 10th Symphony.
Here at NHPR, we've had our own good time infusing a little April Fool-ishness into our content. Here's a list of our favorite April 1st radio pranks we've played on you throughout the years.
Smartphone App Targets Public Radio Freeloaders.
Jon Greenberg filed this convincing story in 2011 about "ShowNTell," an app allegedly developed by Portsmouth-based Pokos Communications that used biometrics and data to rat out non-contributing public radio listeners.
The story convinced more than a few listeners concerned about privacy...but as far as we know, didn't convince any of them to give.
So Long, Zach, And Good Luck
In 2013, Word of Mouth Producer Zach Nugent produced a charming story about New Hampshire ice skater Kaitlyn DeRoy, a cast member of Disney on Ice. While he was interviewing Kaitlyn (on skates!), he convinced her to pretend to be super-impressed with his skating skills on tape. This was tape he used on April 1 to convince listeners of Word of Mouth that he was leaving the show, having been recruited to join the Disney on Ice touring company.
To this day, people ask whether Zach's skating career didn't work out. Maybe they were convinced by our on-air farewell tribute, or maybe it was the photo we posted on the web.
New Hampshire's New Old Man?
The discovery of the so-called New Portsmouth Man, human remains purported to be 15,000 years old, was a groundbreaking find in 2009. It was also completely fake.
Dan Gorenstein's story began with tape of "Dave Anderson and Dan Tucker," two hunters from Sutton who allegedly discovered the remains on land owned by The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, who were completely in on the joke. The idea was that because of New Portsmouth Man's importance in the record of human history, a movement was afoot to replace the fallen Old Man in the Mountain with his image as the icon for the Granite State.
The original story solicited a bunch of calls and no shortage of web comments, some praising the prank, others...not so much. In either case, Dave and Dan's accents still have us cracking up. Listen and judge for yourself whether you'd have been fooled.
Square Trees Grow In New Hampshire
You know you're listening to a public radio story when you hear it...it's that particular combination of "boots-on-gravel" natural sound, earnest field interviews, and yes, a topic you probably haven't heard about elsewhere.
All of these elements were part of the mix of our all-time favorite April Fool's story, reported by the straighter-than-straight Amy Quinton in 2008. It's about a secret project to grow square trees in the woods of New Hampshire...and you just have to hear it to understand why it had so many people fooled.