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Joy FM’s April Fools’ prank and matters arising

Fri, 8 Apr 2016 Source: Francis Doku

Joy FM did it again. They pulled a big All April Fools’ Day prank on their listeners.

This time though, it seems they bit more than they could chew and the backlash has been coming in thick and fast from all quarters.

Even the journalism profession’s umbrella body, the Ghana Journalists Association, failed to see the humour in the prank that the station orchestrated and delivered on the morning of April 1 and has made known its view in a statement signed by its president.

“We consider that type of prank to be an expensive joke with no entertainment value,” you could hear President Affail Monney bellowing in the statement.

“GJA is deeply disappointed that a radio station of Joy FM’s caliber could decide to stoop so low and indulge in such broadcast vulgarism that has the tendency to undermine media trust, public security and generate unnecessary political tension.”

That kind of feels like trying to impress your dad with a grand event and then, after all is said and done, he calls you in front of your siblings to lambast you on your conduct on the very event and then tries to let you know you have brought the name of the family into disrepute.

You know the facts already, don’t you? Kojo Yankson, the host of the morning show, while on air was picked up by people purported to be operatives of the National Security or to be specific BNI.

The station’s signal went off momentarily and then came back with him in the host’s chair.

Many people, especially on social media wanted to know whether it was true or being April 1, it was one of those pranks that Joy FM has over the years mastered in playing on its listeners. It turned out the latter was the case.

One of the biggest April Fools ’ Day pranks planned and executed by a radio station in Ghana was done by Joy FM. Komla Dumor, when he was in his peak and was yet to marry together with Mawuko Zormelo, planned the most audacious prank ever.

Komla announced on air that he was getting married and that it would be held on the premises opposite Joy FM (where Multi TV now occupies). His supposed bride was put in the wedding vehicle with a big entourage and they paraded the streets of Accra.

Many people took the bait and responded to Dumor’s invitation to attend his wedding only to find out that the supposed bride was actually Mawuko Zormelo and that there was no wedding.

I was in the crowd and as disappointed as we were, I will have you know that we didn’t spare the “small chops” and drinks on offer at the fake wedding.

It was a big one and so the letdown was massive. We had not seen an April Fools’ Day prank of such magnitude and perhaps, the reason for the shock and awe that it evoked. I should add though that, till this day, I have not seen another one conceptualised and executed with such perfection.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Joy FM has a penchant for playing such pranks. Over the years, there have been many such attempts to wind-up listeners on April 1st. While some have been good, others have been abysmal.

Two years ago, the station tried to deceive us that Nii Ayi Tagoe was taking over as host of the morning show. No sooner than that did Kojo Yankson take over.

Then on the same day, Doreen Andoh was supposed to have left the station after almost a week of announcing it.

Last year, Kojo Yankson brought in supposed officials from the ECG and the Water Company to talk about customer related issues.

The two were intentionally caustic leaving many listeners to be fuming only to be told that it was an April Fools’ prank.

So this year, the station decided to go harder and the result was the National Security scare that was orchestrated last Friday.

As previously mentioned, many found the joke to be in bad taste and apart from the GJA, other people have slammed the station and the host for that.

It must be noted that all over the world, April Fools’ pranks are rife and happens in different forms from both individual and corporate insitutions.

For example, during this year’s April Fool, the state of Texas in the United States announced that the old currency of the state would become legal tender again and would run concurrently with the Federal dollar.

Another example is Virgin Australia announcing a “Kids Class” — “the first kids-only aircraft cabin” in which the aisles are giant hopscotch boards and a “customised teddy service” offers young fliers their choice of stuffed animals to cuddle with.

But there are times when even April Fools’ prank can go wrong as happened to Google this year.

The global search and email giant apologised Friday for an April Fools’ Day prank that inadvertently caused some users to send animated GIFs of “Minion” characters in important emails.

“Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year,” Google software engineer, Victor-bogdan Anchidin, wrote in a blog post.

The company had attempted to mark the day with a temporary Gmail feature called Mic Drop. The feature added an orange “Send” button that would add to your message an animation of a Minion dropping a microphone and automatically archive any responses — giving you the illusion of the last word in any conversation you were participating in.

“Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs,” Anchidin also wrote. “We’re truly sorry.”

I think just like Google, Joy FM totally burnt their fingers with this year’s April Fools’ day prank. The response from social media, mainstream media and from different organisations indicate that although they may have meant it as a harmless joke, people took serious exception to it. The main argument is that joke with any and everything, but steer clear of National Security issues.

I think the message to be picked from this year’s response to the Joy FM prank is that in everything and especially in pulling pranks on listeners, there is the need to apply the KISS acronym. Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Columnist: Francis Doku