Every few months, a local radio personality takes South Florida’s sports fans, scoops them up, twists them into a little ball and then flicks them across the dial, laughing about what a good joke he’s just pulled.
Excuse us, once again, if we don’t join in.
Wednesday, it was WKGR and morning personality Sea Bass. At around 8:05, Sea Bass told his listeners that Jimmy Johnson was leaving the Dolphins after an awful tiff with team owner H. Wayne Huizenga. Even better, Don Shula was returning to coach the team.
Sea Bass, who does not reveal his real name and has been at the station for less than a year, presented it as a news item - a scoop. That so many people fell for it is almost as ridiculous as the story itself, but around here it’s sort of understandable. In South Florida, the Dolphins are serious business, whether it’s a coaching change or a missing chin strap.
That’s something you just know about this area. It’s something the management at WKGR should have remembered.
Instead, the station decided to play what promotions director Marc Elliott called “an early April Fool’s joke.”
The hoax sent much of South Florida into overdrive.
The Dolphins received hundreds of phone calls. So did WKGR. So did the Sun-Sentinel and other local media outlets who had nothing to do with the prank. Switchboards were jammed. It’s amazing that one rumor on one radio station reaching only half the South Florida area received so much attention when school board meetings sit empty, but it did.
When he heard about the frenzy, Johnson just shook his head and chuckled. The rest of the Dolphins organization wasn’t as amused.
“Look, I understand that this was supposed to be entertainment, but a radio station also needs to have credibility,” spokesman Harvey Greene said.
Greene has been here before - it wasn’t too long ago that he was attacking another radio personality, WIOD’s Phil Hendrie, for his “hoax” about then-Dolphins linebacker Bryan Cox and his family. Last summer, WQAM drew similar heat for duping listeners into an insulting impersonation of Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo.