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Newspaper Exposes Radio Hoax: Two Disc Jockeys Suspended after Los Angeles Times Writer Breaks Story That They Orchestrated a Phony On-Air Murder Confession

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspaper Exposes Radio Hoax: Two Disc Jockeys Suspended after Los Angeles Times Writer Breaks Story That They Orchestrated a Phony On-Air Murder Confession

Article excerpt

Newspaper exposes radio hoax

Two Los Angeles disc jockeys who orchestrated a phony on-air murder confession that was exposed by the Los Angeles Times have been suspended by their station and are targets of an FCC investigation.

Kevin Ryder and Gene (Bean) Baxter of KROQ-FM apologized to their listeners in an April 12 broadcast for the hoax that set off a nationwide police hunt.

Claudia Puig, a staff writer for the Times' Calendar section, broke the story a few days earlier after a six-week investigation based on an anonymous tip.

The faked crime attracted hundreds of call-in leads by police around the country. According to station sources, Puig wrote, the murder scam was hatched last June - apparently without the knowledge of KROQ management - by the two deejays with the help of then-Mesa, Ariz., radio personality Doug Roberts.

Ryder and Baxter developed a comedy sketch called Confess Your Crime in which listeners were encouraged to reveal their wrongdoings on the air.

The pair, it was later revealed, fabricated a conversation with Roberts, who pretended to be a "whacked-out and disturbed" caller, who admitted killing his girlfriend, according to Puig. Listeners were persuaded the call was real.

In the next few days, several tv news crews descended on the Burbank radio station for interviews with the deejays, who said they were stunned by the call. The NBC series Unsolved Mysteries, which airs nationally on network affiliates, carried the phone call twice on the program, the last time in March. …

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