Host John Bishop went on the air with Cobby's satirical account of Northwestern undergraduates planning to tap into the Huskers' brainwaves. It's funny at first..but it points out that much of what gets reported on the air apparently doesn't get validated. And that's actually kind of scary, because listeners tend to assume that what's reported on the radio is, in fact, actually true.
Turns out Cobby's satirical article about Northwestern undergraduates planning to read the brain waves of Nebraska players to intercept play calls caught a big fish on Thursday. Namely, the popular "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" radio show on KOZN-1620 AM "The Zone" in Omaha. Brandon Vogel first tipped us off about it:
In the opening segment, host John Bishop read most of the article over the air - unaccredited, I might add - and speculated on the impact of this technology on football for several minutes. After the commercial break, Bishop checked his e-mail to find a message from an alert CornNation user letting him know that Cobby writes satire.
Sheepishly, Bishop opened the next segment of his show offering his mea culpa for being "Onioned". Granted, it isn't quite as easy as it used to be to mark articles as satire. (The topics of "satire", "bridge for sale", and "a complete lie" on the side of the page probably are too easy to miss.) But even so, you should have expected 1620 to have done some validation of the report. It's not like they haven't been fooled by this before. In December, the same station bit hard on the reports that Lady Gaga was going to perform at the Capital One Bowl.
I'm probably being too hard on Bishop and 1620 AM; they aren't a news station, but rather a sports-talk station. They start conversations and try to entertain people. Note I didn't say "inform". Certainly a little bit of research would have shown that there is no record anywhere in the Google of these students and their projects, other than the Cobby report. They simply found out something they thought was interesting, and went on the air with it. Whether it was true or not - didn't matter.
A Cobby report is all fun, but the problem is that sometimes things get said on air that aren't substantiated...and get passed off as true. Several times this week, Bishop and Mike'l Severe have discussed what other jobs Bo Pelini would be interested in in this offseason. They occasionally would give a disclaimer that they have no knowledge that Pelini is looking at these jobs, but throughout these segments, they would base everything on a belief that Pelini sought out the Miami, Penn State, and Ohio State jobs. All reports that Pelini has denied, but the station's on-air hosts assume and maintain is true.
Maybe Cobby's "onioning" of John Bishop was just a fluke. Or maybe, it's another incident of a pattern of getting the story wrong and passing off bad information as news. That, in turn, somehow validates the bad information as fact when, in fact, it has absolutely no merit behind it.