Hide your kids, hide your wife, cause we trollin’ everybody out here.
Gonski, race riots, asylum seekers and strikes. We’d tried it all. Nothing was working. In GOVT2603: Media Politics, we had been tasked with an assignment to get excited about. It was simple. Call into as many radio stations as possible, get past the gatekeeper, and document your successes and failures. After confidently promising our tutor that we could easily surpass the three calls that made it to air last year, “…we’ll get like twenty!” we were now sitting in the Merewether courtyard – 0/8. Some of our calls hadn’t even managed to make it to a producer to get rejected. We were on hold to Ray Hadley for over an hour before being told that there simply wasn’t enough time to put us on air. However, Ray did have time to deal with the pressing issues of the day, like the woman whose letters had not been fully inserted into her letterbox by Australia Post.
Then the news broke: another GOVT2603 student, worried about engaging in unethical conduct, had reported his prank for the same assignment to its intended recipient: Honi’s UNSW equivalent, Tharunka. Finally, an issue that we could make our own.
Realising that soon all of Sydney’s media would be made aware of the hoax, we made a last ditch attempt to gather some data. Alishawrote an impassioned email to 2UE, filled with superfluous exclamation marks and caps lock labeling the Media Pol assignment as a “DISGRACE!!!” Within minutes, the producers called. Presenter Paul Murray raised the issue immediately, and as he did, Alisha fed some lines to a conveniently placed friend who then called in. All in the name of the assignment.
Coincidentally contacted to comment on the subject, Alisha realised her number would awkwardly be on file under a fake name, and offered to pass them on to another student, Natalie. Little did 2UE know, they’d been passed on to yet another member of Alisha’s assignment group – HD here we come?
After three priming sessions, Natalie, alias ‘Rebecca’, was scheduled for a guest appearance on Paul’s show the next morning. Quickly, we recruited some ‘opposition’ for Nat, to test whether we could take over Paul Murray’s segment. The stage was set – Law Lawns, 9.40am, 13 13 32 in speed dial.
The following morning, ‘Rebecca’ giggled politely through her interview as Paul made digs at everything from the Media Pol lecturer to 702 Radio, joining in Paul’s celebration at his victory over liberal trolls. Waiting approximately 20m away, Finn Keogh, AKA ‘Matt’, rang in to confront ‘Rebecca’, raving about the ‘sound pedagogical basis of the assignment.’ As soon as Paul tired of Finn, another group member, Lee, made it past the producer to back him up.
In the fifteen-minute piece, three quarters of the calls taken were from our group. We had created our own issue, retained editorial control and all the while, 2UE was under the impression that they had unearthed a scoop. Thanks to our calls, an internal email was sent to all 2UE staff, warning of our assignment, as well as a good half an hour of dedicated coverage over two days. We had escaped with all the data we could have dreamed of. As Paul Murray helpfully put it: “You’ve now been interviewed by me… Does that make you top of the class?”*
* No seriously. Not kidding. Please give us a good mark.
See here for more coverage of the pranking Tharunka assignment.