Staff Writer

Brad Smart

You can’t help but feel Mel Greig’s very public pain.

The fact that she travelled to London for the Coroner’s inquest into the suicide death of Nurse Jacintha Saldanha following the ‘Royal Prank Call’, indicates that she feels a great deal of remorse.

Given the way she has been openly reacting to date, that overwhelming sense of remorse is likely to continue haunting her for much of her life.

However, for some time, Mel and former on-air partner, Michael Christian, were part of the industry-wide culture that pushed prank and ‘gotcha’ calls as being hilarious radio, when really, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that these type of calls have always been a catastrophe going somewhere to happen.

Southern Cross Austereo and their presenters just happened to be the ones at the wrong place, at the wrong time – a case of ‘there but for the grace of God’ for many radio show hosts.

Prank calls rely on publicly humiliating an unsuspecting party for the gratification and amusement of the listeners.

Maybe they are great radio.

Perhaps, I am the only one out of touch, because I have always regarded them as dangerous and purile nonsense.

So, was I alone in thinking along the way that it’s only a matter of time until one of these prank calls targeted the wrong person and that serious consequences would likely follow.

Now, I understand that the nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, was not intended to be the target of the so-called ‘Royal Prank Call’.

In fact, she wasn’t even involved, other than by putting the call through to the ward.

Yet, however unintentional, she certainly became the victim of this particular prank.

Some people react very badly to humiliation.

I’m sure psychologists would tell us that being a victim of humiliation can provoke emotions that range from taking violent retribution to considering their own suicide.

Take US shock jock Alan Berg, who used to mercilessly humiliate listeners who disagreed with him.

He was killed when shot 13 times in the driveway of his Denver home by a humiliated listener.

Now, I understand that the vast majority of hoax call ‘victims’ may get the joke in the end, think it’s all OK and give permission for it to be broadcast.

However, it is not the vast majority of these targets you need to be worried about when you ‘poke the bear’.

It’s the one in ten thousand that takes it very personally and will either go after the presenter, or, will not be able to recover from the humiliation that is dished out and will self-harm.

Predicting who that individual is going to be, is almost impossible.

For presenters over the years, prank calls may have always been a case of playing with fire, and, perhaps we’ve just been fortunate in this country that no one has had their fingers burned, until now.

Personally, I think it’s time that prank and ‘gotcha’ calls passed into radio history, and, we grew up a bit, particularly given this new ‘politically correct’ world we now live in where it is so easy to offend and take offense.

Looking back at the outcome of the Royal Prank Call, it is now becoming clear that this call has tragically claimed two victims.


About The Author:

Brad SMART has been a journalist, consultant, author, broadcaster, film director and was the former owner of the Smart Radio Network throughout Queensland. Brad can be contacted at  on email here.





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