Purpose: This article analyses an Australian commercial radio talkback show that deployed prank as a strategy to scoop royal news to entertain an Australian audience, often commodified for popularity ratings and sponsorship dollars. Design/methodology/approach: Using textual analysis, the study empirically examined the crisis that followed the 2Day FM’s prank call to the Duchess of Cambridge at King Edward VII Hospital, London. The article engages with the media-made disaster from the lens of issue and crisis management interrogating social conversations and news stories across three countries, i.e., Australia, Britain and India. Findings: Findings reflect that the media, in this case, radio, far more than any other public entity, is subject to public scrutiny and has a moral obligation to practice with public interest at heart. Both news and social media played crucial roles in the escalation of the crisis that ignited a range of public issues. While social media narratives were abusive, condemning and life-threatening, news stories focused on legality, ethics and privacy. Practical implications: The prank broadcast invited news and social media attention and raised public concern over the ethics of Australian radio entertainment. Crises, whilst often damaging, contribute to the rethinking and rejuvenation of organisational and professional values and practices. Originality/value: This project is significant in that it is the first to use a radio talk show as a case to engage with issue and crisis management literature and interrogate radio practice in Australia. Further, the project identifies this crisis as media-made and develops an innovative crisis lifecycle model.
Journal of Communication Management / Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.56-74