Cheating hubby radio ruse: Object lesson or publicity ploy?

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Is there a difference between a prank and a hoax? A Washington, D.C., radio host accused of perpetrating the latter insists that there is, claiming he was merely indulging in the former. His critics aren't so sure.

Last week, media domestic and foreign took note of what seemed to be an extraordinary example of marital retribution: A Virginia man was seen standing at a busy intersection wearing a large sign reading "I cheated. This is my punishment." The man, identifying himself as William Taylor, gave an exclusive interview to the host of The Kane Show on 99.5 FM.
Among the people who heard about the story was radio-industry veteran Justin Kratzer, who suspected it was a put-on -- having taken part in a nearly identical stunt for two other radio stations. Kratzer tipped off The Washington Post, which forced Kane (as the host calls himself) to admit it was a ruse.

But a ruse to what purpose? A lofty one, Kane claimed: On his show, he insisted the stunt was meant to call attention to the media's sensationalism, pack mentality and lack of skepticism. But a cynic might point out that The Kane Show's ratings surely benefited from the attention, in a week when the death of Ted Kennedy otherwise dominated the news, and that Kane didn't pull back the curtain on his experiment until forced to.

As criticism mounted, Kane took to Twitter to justify himself, writing, "MEDIA: ur getting it ALL wrong. if it was publicity, I'd have my name on it. YOU made it a story by not checking your facts. Don't blame me."

But if Kane were as smart as he seems to think himself, he'd know that radio jocks who indulge in enough chicanery eventually end up making fools of themselves. That's what happened to Erich "Mancow" Muller, who made a show of having himself waterboarded and loudly proclaimed himself moved by the experience to condemn the practice. The media blog Gawker quickly established that Mancow's waterboarding was, in the incautious words of his publicist, "a hoax."

Then there were the morning hosts at Sacramento radio station KDND-FM who orchestrated an on-air water-chugging contest. Despite being warned that drinking huge amounts of water can be deadly, the hosts went ahead with the contest -- and were fired after a contestant died of water intoxication.

Shock jocks Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia, a.k.a. Opie and Anthony, were also dropped by their station and syndicator when, in 2002, they conducted a contest of their own daring participants to have sex in public places. Catholics were outraged when a producer from the show encouraged a couple to copulate in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Kane didn't respond to calls from DailyFinance. A message left for the program director of Hot 99.5 also went unreturned.
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