Longform

PHONE CALLS FROM HELL

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Another KSLX telephone prank gone seriously awry was an April Fool's Day stunt inspired by an actual dispute over a proposed freeway to be built on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

We came on at six o'clock in the morning and told everyone who was up at that hour that we were going to play a joke on all the listeners who don't tune in until seven o'clock," explains Bell. Sort of a Native American version of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast, the gag required early risers to telephone the station with bogus eyewitness reports" of an Indian uprising on Pima Road.

We gave the listeners the premise and they took it to the moon," says Bell. We had people calling in, saying that they were on their way to work and had seen Indians on horseback squaring off against the police on Scottsdale Road. Someone else called in to warn everyone that classes at Scottsdale Community College had been canceled because Indians had surrounded the place. Then we got a call that ABCO was on fire."

Scottsdale police brought this simulated war party to a close when they charged into the station and ordered the station's morning team to can the scam. Alarmed listeners had reportedly melted" Scottsdale's 911 number.

Last year the KSLX morning team went over the top. Somebody got the bright idea to place a prank call to Scottsdale police, an act that's about as advisable as telling your flight attendant you're a terrorist.

According to Bell, radio partner John Giese telephoned the police station in an attempt to have Jeanne Sedello (the distaff side of the morning team) arrested for violating an archaic law forbidding cohabitation. The woman who answered the phone thought it was funny, but she turned the call over to an officer who did not think it was funny at all," Bell recalls. John wouldn't give up, though-he kept insisting that the police should be investigating Jeanne's living arrangement.

Finally, the cop said, `This is stupid. There are many laws we don't enforce.' John said, `Like what?' And the guy said, `Like the law that says you're supposed to tell somebody when they're on the radio.'

The cop reported us to the FCC."
Bell says that his contract with the station now forbids him from calling anyone on the air. It wound up costing us $10,000 in attorney's fees, plus the FCC fined the station $5,000."

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Dewey Webb