Rock Radio Scrapbook

For week of March 31, 2013
Edition #726

Station: CFTR Toronto
Date: April 1, 1977
Time: 6:51

(Description by Dan Haber)

It happens every April 1st – stations trying to top each other with pranks on listeners to see how many people they can take in. But of all the stunts ever pulled in Toronto, I consider this one the very best.

It came exactly two years after the federal government in Canada forced people to convert to the metric system, on April Fool’s day, no less. All current temperatures in weather forecasts were being given in Celsius as well as Fahrenheit. Speed limits on streets and highways went from miles to kilometres and the gas used to power those cars was suddenly being pumped in litres instead of gallons.

Two years in, a lot of people were still confused. And then came Metric Time, a brilliant concept first used in Australian radio and reproduced to perfection on the airwaves of CFTR. The premise: the little-known final conversion to “Metric Time” would be taking place in 1979, with the government giving Canadians a two-year “early warning” about the impending change.

The entire scenario is “explained” in this wonderful bit of tape from that famous Fool’s Day in 1977. It begins with CFTR News Director, the great Robert Holiday, issuing yet another hoax in his 7:30 a.m. newscast, this one a tried and true classic about a phone book misprint. (Remember phone books?)

It then segues into the story of Metric Time, with a “leading scientist” explaining the concept and real streeters reacting both positively and negatively to the “news.” In addition to Holiday, you’ll hear reporter Glenis Bell and Randall Stevens. The piece ends with the actual recording from the special phone line set up to explain the scheme, where the joke is finally revealed for those who hung on long enough to hear it.

A brilliant hoax that was artfully done, because a lot of people fell for it.

Enjoy CFTR's April Fool's Metric Time prank here.

(The Dan Haber Collection)

More 1977 airchecks here!


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