National Public Radio and, this year, American Public Media, have taken a cue from the BBC and presented "news stories" on April 1st that turn out to be April Fool's jokes. Years ago, the BBC did a deadpan "news report" about the spaghetti tree harvests in northern Italy. And a few years back, one of NPR's April Fool stories dealt with an underground pipeline, being constructed between Seattle and New York, through which people could receive lattes and cappuccinos through spigots in their homes. I always look forward to these diversions, and last Wednesday awaited the annual presentations with great anticipation.
I was not disappointed. This year's April 1 story, on NPR's All Things Considered, reported a burgeoning whale-farming industry, with a sidebar telling us how groups of whales were being taught to sing in barbershop harmony. One of the "whale farmers" had even managed to construct an entire back porch out of whalebone! There also followed a reference, with no further explanation, to a lawsuit that some people were planning against the makers of the Kindle reader, claiming eye injuries from pop-up 3-D books. Maybe this was for real? No follow-up.
The program following ATC, American Public Media's Marketplace, also did itself proud with a piece about the current real estate market. They claimed that some realtors, attempting to sell houses in neighborhoods that had been largely vacated owing to foreclosures or various other misfortunes, hired actors to play fake neighbors and dog walkers, bake cookies, and hold barbecues to make the area look occupied. They also staged church services and Little League baseball games, hiring teams from other towns to pretend that they were local players. They did a pretty good job of making it sound like a real news item at first, but my suspicions were finally aroused by the church and baseball references.
The photo accompanying this is totally irrelevant. April Fool!