The Polite Medium
Art ©1996 Burton W. Schlatter and Ben Jackson

In honor of the Super Bowl last January, a Los Angeles radio station ran a “Super Bowl Crazy Stunt” contest. One of the finalists was Mike Garcia, 25, whose practiced stunt consisted of swallowing his glass eye, regurgitating it and then reinserting it. But once swallowed, the pressure of the limelight kept the eyeball down, despite a huge meal and 15 minutes of self-induced vomiting, much of which was broadcast live. Rather than winning a new Ford Escort, Garcia left the station’s studios with an empty left eye socket, soiled clothing and the prospect of spending $1,500 for a new eye.

In Wanganui, New Zealand, a 21 year-old man armed with a bomb took a radio station manager hostage and demanded that the station play “The Rainbow Connection” by The Muppets repeatedly for twelve hours to “tell people how he felt.” The station complied, and nobody was hurt.

Back in 1973, the California Highway Patrol announced that the number of people flinging themselves off the Golden Gate bridge was approaching 500. A rash of attempted suicides followed, including one jumper who was wearing a shirt reading “500.” In 1995, as the magic number approached 1000, a Bay Area radio station went one step further, offering prizes to the 1000th jumper. Of course, there was a catch. The winner would have to pick up his goods at the station in person.

In Argentina, one of the country’s most popular radio programs is Radio La Colifita, or Loony Radio, which originates from the Borda Psychiatric Hospital in Buenos Aires. The program broadcasts live interviews, commentary and songs from the courtyard of the hospital, and features patients like Garces, the Emperor of Paranoia and Pujo, the Correspondent from Mars. In May, Radio La Colifita garnered one of Argentina’a top broadcasting awards in recognition of the show’s social contribution and popularity.

Translation Mutilations

When Perdue Chickens ran TV ads in Latin America, the tag line “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” was overdubbed in Spanish as “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.”

Coors beer slogan “Turn it Loose” translated into Spanish as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”

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