Radio shows have been in existence for as long as anyone can remember, but it was only in 1912 when the term was coined and shortened from “radiotelegraphy” and “radiotelephony.”
It became one of the main sources of news and entertainment when the public embraced the radio in the 1920s. And despite the advancement in technology and the advent of the Internet, radios continue to be an integral part of our lives—be it at home, in the office, or on the road.
And because everything is delivered live over the radio, mistakes by DJs, hosts, presenters and radio personalities are inevitable.
In fact, bloopers, slip-ups, screwups, goofs and mishaps have been in existence since the public embraced the radio.
In particular, the word blooper was first used in the early days of radio, but not as what we know now. The word surfaced between 1925 and 1930, and meant the high-pitched sound generated by a receiver that was not finely tuned; this was called bloops and the receiver was called a blooper.
Now, a blooper is known as a mistake or an error—which is usually embarrassing—witnessed by other people.
Over the years, there have been a number of famous ‘bloopers’—from ‘colorful’ language to laughing fits, from technical glitches to amusing mispronunciations—and the Internet has immortalized some of them.
Here are some of the classic bloopers or mishaps heard over the radio:
“US President Hoobert Heever”
Harry Von Zell was a famous American radio broadcaster and actor in films and television shows. But during his time early days as an announcer, he made an unforgettable verbal slip in 1931 when he allegedly referred to then US President Herbert Hoover as “Hoobert Heever” during a live tribute on his birthday. Good thing that didn’t end his career over the radio—he even lived on to become an actor.
Know more about his mispronunciation here.
The spelling game
An Australian radio station was running a competition to win a motorbike to celebrate the album of rock band AD/DC. They had a caller who wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box. In order to be part of the draw lot, the DJs asked caller named Mark to spell out the name of the band, which he spelled “AD-DC.” What’s makes it funnier is he was asked to spell the band’s name over and over, and spelled it wrong every time!
Listen to the blooper here.
WFIL radio in Philadelphia announced a public service information to the surprise of its listeners. The announcer said: “Hurry up folks and deposit your letters now. We’ll be waiting for your droppings in the box…”
This particular blunder can be read here.
Live farting on air
Last, but certainly not least, is the time when Radio Law Talk listened to Robert Durst talk about his murder charges while in the bathroom! What our hosts almost die of laughter here.
If you want to read more radio mishaps, Kermit Schafer—an American writer and producer for radio and television in the 1950s and 1960s—has compiled numerous bloopers and published book about it. You can read them all here.