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The Sydney Morning Herald

Radio prank left girl in tears

Date: 11/01/1996
Words: 305
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Page: 4
A girl burst into tears when a disc jockey told her before an estimated 80,000 radio listeners that there had been a "dreadful" mistake in her HSC result - she had not scored a perfect TER of 100 because one of her papers had been wrongly marked.

Later the teenager was told by another station announcer that a nasty trick had been played on her.

The NSW Board of Studies has complained about the incident to Today FM, Sydney's highest rating FM station.

The disc jockey, David Rymer (pictured), who hosts the 7-10pm shift, had told the girl that he was from the board and that she had scored 49, not 89, for 2-unit English.

When the distressed student asked, "Look, is this a joke?", Rymer replied: "No, not at all; no, no, no, we just want to clear things up, we just want to make sure what happened with our computer today - we had a few of these things floating around. It's a little bit disturbing."

He then queried her maths and biology marks.

By now distraught, the teenage girl replied, "It's a hell of a lot disturbing."

The girl went to get her results and it was not until she returned that another Today FM disc jockey told her that she had been the victim of a practical joke.

A board spokesperson said yesterday that the incident ruined what should have been one of the happiest days of the girl's life and "the board will be discussing the issue further with the station".

Rymer denied last night that he had claimed that he was from the board when he telephoned her on air, and said that the call "was working in the sense that the girl was believing it".

However, the Herald has obtained a tape-recording of the show and Rymer is clearly heard saying that he is "Paul Black from the NSW Board of Studies".

It is understood the girl was crying and shaking during and after the phone call and felt publicly humiliated by the incident.

Rymer told the Herald that he did not regret making the call but he was sorry the girl took it so seriously.

"It was meant in the spirit of good fun," Mr Rymer said.

"There was no harm done. We detected that she had really taken the bait and we phoned her up after the call to make sure that she was OK."

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