O'BRIEN: April Fool's Day puts us all on guard for pranks

Posted: Apr. 1, 2014 7:48 am Updated: Jun. 24, 2014 8:15 am

The ruse Jeff Dorsey and Dennis Oliver dreamed up worked to perfection. It was April Fool's Day and the morning guys on Y101 radio wanted to have a little fun with their listeners a few years ago.

When it was time for their usual shift to start that day, two other Y101 employees took to the air. Those guys had to tell all of the listeners of the popular morning show that Oliver and Dorsey had been canned, their contracts not renewed. Not only that, but the station had undergone a format change overnight. It was now Disco 101, playing all of the disco hits from the 1970s.

Callers were outraged. They wanted their old radio station back. One caller in particular wanted to know what was happening. Oliver's mother was listening in Pittsfield. She called the station and asked to speak to Oliver.

"Our receptionist answered the phone, ‘Hello, Disco 101,' " Dorsey said. "We told her to tell everyone the same story. But Dennis' mom wanted to know if Dennis was there. She got upset when she was told that he didn't work there any more. That's when we had to let her in on the prank."

There's nothing better than a good prank, especially on April Fool's Day. And the boys at Y101 have pulled some doozies.

A few years after Disco 101 died after a six-hour on-air stint, Dorsey and Oliver pulled another prank. They had one of their engineers act like he was from the state of Louisiana. The man's firm was working on a pilot project with the city of Quincy for energy saving stoplights.

"He used this southern drawl to tell people about his engineering firm that had been working with the city for weeks about saving energy," Dorsey said. "If you were sitting at a red light and there was no one coming the other way all you had to do was hit your horn and the light would turn green. He said is was a prototype program and Quincy was one of the first cities to get the technology."

Soon after they ended the segment, Oliver and Dorsey rushed outside their studios near 24th and Broadway.

"We went outside and horns were honking all over the place," he said with a laugh.

It's getting harder and harder to pull off April Fool's Day pranks. The days for great hoaxes like Sports Illustrated's Sidd Finch story from 1985 are long gone. People look at today's date and they're more aware not to get punked. You should always be a little skeptical of anything you read on social media. That is especially true on April 1 every year. Before you know it, you'll buy into rumors like Michael Jordan making a return to the NBA or Miley Cyrus saying "yes" to a marriage proposal from Justin Bieber.

One place you can be sure not to get pranked this April Fool's Day by are the boys at Y101. Dorsey said the corporation that owns the station has told its disc jockeys that all pranks must go through them first. He said they didn't have anything planned.

Then again, maybe Dorsey is just setting up another elaborate ruse.


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