NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Kenny Strasser is a scam artist. He claims to be a yo-yo champion. The news releases he sends out from the Zim Zam yo-yo company tell tv stations that Kenny is coming to town to perform for schoolchildren. He gets himself invited on tv morning shows. What follows are bazaar and akward moments of live broadcasting.
Strasser has no yo-yo skills that we’ve actually seen on television. He talks about himself, does some free-style rap, then his cellphone goes off on-air. Sometimes he twirls his yo-yo over his head like a lasso. But no tricks… except for the tv stations that booked him as a guest.
Amy Pflugshaupt of WSAW-TV, who is an excellent reporter, seemed slow to get the joke. On the video she’s hopeful until the end that the situation will somehow right itself, and that Strasser will do something… anything… and he doesn’t. While this may seem funny, to the people on-air it isn’t. In today’s world of the internet, embarrassing moments in television news can live on forever on Youtube and Facebook. Years from now, when the rest of us have forgotten about the yo-yo prank, a future employer will do an on-line search and the video will resurface.
Radio stations could be conned in exactly the same way. Suppose a concert promoter calls. Keith Urban is adding a show to his tour. He’s available to do a live telephone interview tomorrow morning. A prankster could get on-the-air at dozens of radio stations using that scam. Howard Stern’s producers have made a running joke of doing live scams, and CNN, ESPN, and Fox News have been victims. The Kenny Strasser scam had several more layers than this. He appeared to the tv station with a company web site, a booking agent, multiple phone numbers, all of the things that made him seem legitimate.
In Connecticut one of the tv news stations had a videographer who was built like a football player, a strong, burly-looking, gruff guy. He’d always get sent out for live shots and crime scene stories. His specialty was dealing with pranksters who try to get in the background of live shots. Moments before air he’d yell or curse at people who were in the way. He’d chase people down the street after getting his footage. He’d get the face of people who were smiling or making faces while he was trying to shoot his story. He’d know what to do with Kenny Strasser. It would involve throwing him out of the studio in such a way that he wouldn’t land on his two feet. Then we could all have a laugh.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau