PHONE CALLS FROM HELL

"YOU WANT PRINCE ALBERT? I'LL CONNECT YOU. PLEASE HOLD."

After nervously laughing off some of the earlier obscenities, the miffed hostess finally blew her cool in a torrent of kittenish pique, then provided a fitting coda to the piece by abruptly seguing to a cheesy lounge jazz record. Ross, wherever she is, may take some consolation in knowing that her on-air tirade has since earned her a national following among phone-prank scholars.

If Ross has a male counterpart in local prankdom, it undoubtedly was John Sage, onetime KNIX radio personality. Operating out of a glassed-in control booth opposite Park Central Mall in the Seventies, the surly, right-wing commentator became an easy target for the KDIL guerrillas in more ways than one.

John Sage was a delight to prank," recalls Russell, who credits the commentator with nicknaming the KDIL crew The Interceptors." He was a Joe Pyne kind of guy, like an ex-Marine, and some nights when we were on a roll, you could practically see the veins in his neck pulsing while someone was giving him the business."

A psychiatrist would have a field day unraveling the weird hate-hate relationship between caller and victim, with both sides reveling in their emasculating taunts. While Sage generally had the last word (he could, after all, simply hang up the telephone), the commentator had at least one occasion to wonder who was really running the show.

While talking on the telephone with a female caller one evening, Sage interrupted the conversation to describe a police drama unfolding right outside the window of his studio: For some reason, he said, lots of motorcycle patrolmen were zooming into the station's parking lot. Ye gods!" gasped Sage to his listeners. Moments later, cops broke into the control booth to check a report that the announcer had been injured by shots fired through the window. After assuring police that he was fine, Sage gamely returned to his microphone, where he spent much of the rest of the evening ranting about his archnemeses-just as they hoped he would.

Thanks to their knowledge of the local radio scene, the KDIL guerrillas were even able to prank their way onto stations that didn't even feature phone-in shows.

part 1 of 2

PHONE CALLS FROM HELL "YOU WANT PRINCE ... v4-15-92

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