DJs' 'Dihydrogen Monoxide' April Fool's Prank Results In Suspension And Possible Felony Charges

from the is-actually-<strike>Dolan</strike>-water dept

April Fool’s Day. Either you love it or you hate it. There’s not much middle ground. As a writer on The Internet, April Fool’s Day is a 24-hour deathtrap composed of plausible stories that will set you on fire the moment you press the Publish button. It turns even the most cheerful of writers into a deeply cynical curmudgeon, one who approaches each possible scoop with more suspicion than the heavily-bearded guy down the street who’s building a bunker under his garage and frequently answers the door wearing nothing but a shotgun. (Much of this reverts back to normal following the “holiday,” but each year adds another layer of resentful suspicion. In fact, if you cut open a writer, you can simply count the rings to determine how many years they’ve been in the business.)

For many people, though, April Fool’s Day is a 24-hour period filled with lighthearted pranks and sub-Onion quasi-satire. They love cheerful shenanigans and they love being fooled. Except when they don’t. Then it’s suddenly “gone too far” and concerned foolees start pressing for “something to be done about it.” This is one of those stories, the kind where you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, but you can temporarily fool enough of them that someone gets seriously pissed off.

Florida country radio morning-show hosts Val St. John and Scott Fish are currently serving indefinite suspensions and possibly worse over a successful April Fools’ Day prank. They told their listeners that “dihydrogen monoxide” was coming out of the taps throughout the Fort Myers area.

If you’re not familiar with the term “dihydrogen monoxide,” you’ll be thrilled to know that the compound is damn near everywhere. Not only that, but its ubiquity has prompted many a petition to be signed fervently in favor of banning the dangerous-sounding substance completely. No one’s really sure what makes it so dangerous, but anything containing two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen can’t be completely safe.

Of course, anyone who’s paid attention over the last couple of decades (at least) knows that dihydrogen monoxide is water. What’s surprising is that a couple of pranking DJs could find enough people unaware of this fact to a.) pull off the prank and b.) possibly face felony charges. Wait… what?

[A]pparently, the station, the water works, and perhaps the authorities are still trying to figure out if the two hosts could face felony charges for, again, reporting that the scientific name of water was coming out of the pipes. “My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue,” Diane Holm, a public information officer for Lee County, told WTSP, while Renda stood firm about his deejays: “They will have to deal with the circumstances.”

It seems unlikely the DJ duo will actually face felony charges, but they are currently suspended after being yanked off the air in the middle of their morning show. Apparently, enough people expressed their concern about dihydrogen monoxide leakage that the local water utility was forced to issue a statement.

These reactions to an April Fool’s prank that occurred on a day when pranks are to be expected seem rather overblown. The DJs are suspended indefinitely for technically telling the truth and the station has indicated the pair are facing additional punishment. Sure, nobody wants to feel like a fool, but that is the totality of April 1st. If this many people can’t take being taken for a ride on the foolingest day of the year, then it’s a clear sign that the national sense of humor is in critical condition. (We’ve already eulogized the national sense of proportion and scattered its ashes across a variety of moral panics and Terms of Service outrages.) To put it in more familiar terms, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, the terrorists win.”

[It appears the terrorists have won. (Again.) A poll on the radio station’s website (warning: ads frickin’ everywhere even with Adblock) shows that 78% of the respondents believe the DJs should return to the airwaves “never.” (Poll is no longer live, but an “indefinite” suspension could technically lead to returning “never.”)]

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “DJs' 'Dihydrogen Monoxide' April Fool's Prank Results In Suspension And Possible Felony Charges”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
IronM@sk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Adblock

Very weird. I came to post that I didn’t see any ads in Firefox, then saw you were using Chrome, so was going to then post about that instead, but then I fired up the site in both browsers and it looked exactly the same in both, ie, sans ads.

I also run NoScript in Firefox, but not in Chrome and it still looked the same. I got nuthin’

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Wait till people learn about the amount of dioxygen in the air. It’s been responsible for mass extinctions, and is highly linked to forest, home, and business fires. It has also been known to cause rust, accounting for billions of dollars of economic loss every year.

I recommend that everyone who was concerned about dihydrogen monoxide should immediately put in place measures that prevent exposure to dioxygen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Did you know that they put IRON in some foods?

No wonder I’ve been getting so heavy! I keep telling my doctor: it’s not fat, it’s all the Iron they put in the foods these days. Of course, he won’t listen to me. He just tells me to move my fat arse and lose some weight.

Stupid doctors…

Anonymous Coward says:

How the water company should've handle this

Water Company Guy: *picks up the phone* Hello?
Concerned Citizen: Hello? Yes, I have a question regarding the water quality.
WCG: Go on…
CC: I’m concerned that it might be contaminated with Dihydrogen Monoxide.
WCG: You are aware that Dihydrogen Monoxide is water correct?
CC: But the guys on the radio said that it was dangerous!
WCG: Are you familiar with the concept of April Fools?
CC: I…uh…
WCG: Jackass… *hangs up phone*

AB says:

Re: Re: How the water company should've handle this

I did a stint as a technician and dealt with the same thing. I had one customer who would call at least four times a week needing us to come over and either unjam or reload their tractor feed printer. That particular customer was a secretarial school.

If only their were a way to isolate these people and prevent them from breeding.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: How the water company should've handle this

Unfortunately, our society is not selecting for intelligence.

When you go on a date, do you prefer the highly attractive person who may not be very bright or do you prefer the ugly but highly intelligent person?

If you won’t date ugly people, you probably won’t ever get to later relationship stages with them, won’t marry them and won’t have kids with them. This de-selects unattractive people. Attractive and intelligent people still reproduce, except…

Intelligent people often have careers. Some make time for kids, but a lot don’t. That removes them from the gene pool.

Meanwhile, attractive stupid people are often confused by how birth control works or don’t believe in it. They don’t have careers that get in the way of having kids. And as a result, they breed like rabbits as a demographic group.

In the end, natural selection might just kill us off as a species.

AB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 How the water company should've handle this

When I was looking for a potential mate I always started with the eyes. If I didn’t like the eyes that was the end. The other requirement was intelligence, but interestingly I never have met a stupid person with what I consider attractive eyes.

As a result I may have missed out on a lot of dates with attractive and stupid people, but that’s okay. I choose very wisely and don’t have any regrets. 🙂

But I do understand your point, and it is all too true in general.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: They have a right to be concerned

Actually, it’s not. Drowning is caused by a lack of oxygen reaching the lungs because it’s blocked by something else. The most common form of material causing such a blockage IS dihydrogen monoxide, but it’s not the only one.

Pure nitrogen environments, direct exposure to Halon, aspirating whipped cream (during a pie in the face incident) and other things can also drown you.

So no, dihydrogen monoxide is not responsible for 100% of all drowning deaths.

SquidlyMan (profile) says:

What about the date?

Uhhhh…. It was April 1st. Didn’t anyone in the state of retirement bother to draw upon the years of experience for this day and remember it is Aril Fools Day?

There was a similar situation many years ago in Seattle with a Country radio station (something about varmints parachuting off the Space Needle) which ended badly for the DJs and I believe that was on April Fools Day as well.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Update: They're back on the air

The indefinite suspension didn’t last very long for the Florida morning-radio hosts who played an April Fools’ prank gone wrong?or right, it’s kind of hard to tell?and according to an official at the local health department they also won’t be charged with a felony.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s been debunked. The guy who made the Supersize Me movie falsified his research. You cannot reach the calorie counts he claimed without violating the rules he claims he followed.

Someone who actually does follow the rules claimed in Supersize Me tends to maintain or even lose weight on a McDonalds diet unless they are a total couch potato.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s been debunked. The guy who made the Supersize Me movie falsified his research. You cannot reach the calorie counts he claimed without violating the rules he claims he followed.

I suppose that it’s possible he faked his data.

Someone who actually does follow the rules claimed in Supersize Me tends to maintain or even lose weight on a McDonalds diet unless they are a total couch potato.

Nope, sorry, I probably wouldn’t believe this statement with a mountain of data to back it up.

And just a side note: as I recall, he wasn’t having as much trouble with weight gain as he was with liver damage…

Greevar (profile) says:

The next threat...

Adenosine triphosphate. It’s in every living thing on the planet. When it is broken down in our cells, it becomes adenosine diphosphate. These two substances affect your metabolism. The process of breaking down ATP into ADP can cause oxidative damage to cells. The only solution is to consume plenty of antioxidants such as dihydrogen monoxide, a substance that can kill you if you get too much of it in your lungs.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: The next threat...

The process of breaking down ATP into ADP can cause oxidative damage to cells.

It can help cause involuntary muscle contractions as well.

The only solution is to consume plenty of antioxidants such as dihydrogen monoxide, a substance that can kill you if you get too much of it in your lungs.

Even swallowing too much of it is toxic.

Paul Harrgus says:


The high “NEVER” response on the article was due to listeners of the Opie and Anthony Show on SiriusXM going to the website and purposefully slanting the poll’s (not scientific) results on Tuesday morning. It has nothing to do with the jocks’ popularity or lack thereof.

These same listeners also left some delicious appendage photos on the station’s facebook page, which were eventually deleted.

Let me babysit your children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Blown out of proporation

Just like every good practical joke on April 1st.

“My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue”

They never called it in. They just spread the harmless rumor that actually forced the workers at the water center to get a few more phone calls than normal.

Now if only the water company could set up adds and make a profit off all the extra traffic, everyone would be happy.

The real question is though, what prank will they use next year to outdo this one? Chances are I’ll be listening in….

radarmonkey (profile) says:

A few observations:

1. Anyone who uses morning-show DJs as their primary source of news (especially life threatening news) should be classified as ‘non-sentient’.

2. I would love to see the DJs forced apology to read “We’re sorry for our April Fools Day broadcast. We had no possible way to believe people would be stupid enough to believe a 7th-grade joke.”

3. Further, I believe the DJs should quit, because their listeners *ARE* stupid enough to believe a 7th-grade joke!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: RE: The next threat...

ill say it again, H2O is an unstable chemical compound which starts to decompose when exposed to air and heat.

no I am not just talking about water changing from liquid to vapour. What I said is what I said, it is true.

I also hazard a guess that 2000+ Degrees C, IS A HEAT RIGHT ????

do you think 2000+ Degrees C is not heat ???

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 RE: The next threat...

possibly not so much with air, but water is an excellent solvent, which means it does break up and form different molecules that H2O, it also naturally breaks down or sublimate but far less then what occurs in the evaporation process alone..

water will break down or gain extra molecules very easily, that’s why it is an excellent solvent.

So yes it is strictly accurate.. liquid water turning into water vapour is not what I am talking about, it’s still water.

But water placed in a car battery quickly ceases to be water, it is not a stable molecule.

Jim G. (profile) says:

I can’t believe everyone here thinks dihydrogen monoxide is harmless. Don’t you realize this dangerous substance:

-is the major component of acid rain.
-contributes to the “greenhouse effect”.
-may cause severe burns.
-is fatal if inhaled.
-contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
-accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
-may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
-has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

Lord Binky says:

“My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue”

I guess stating that your tap water contains an increased amount of pure water is a water quality issue then. Imagine the problem if they reported that the domestic water supply contained chlorine, hydrofluosilicic acid, or sodium silicofluoride that was added at the water treatment plant.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

This stunt wasn’t even original. Penn & Teller did a Bullshit episode about how everybody is ready to ignorantly jump on anything that sounds environmental and had people passing around petitions to ban dihydrogen monoxide. Same clueless people were signing that fall for the global warming hoax. One single volcano produces more CO2 than man made causes can in decades but everybody is falling for this crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“One single volcano produces more CO2 than man made causes can in decades but everybody is falling for this crap”

NOT TRUE !!!!.. yes, volcanos do release CO2, but not as much (from even the largest volcanos) produce as much CO2 as mankind would product in a year.

Worse, it is the Sulphur Dioxide gas and particulate matter that is more damaging than the CO2 emissions.

and no a volcano does NOT release anywhere near what mankind can put CO2 into the environment.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Anyone can, if they try, that these guys did not in any way question the quality of the water with claims of ‘dihydrogen monoxide’ coming out of water faucets. (this is actually an old joke of which the upper staff at WTSP should feel bad at not recognizing)

One could also claim that it is good to question the quality of any source of food or water regardless of some silly government claim of fitness. Questioning government is good at every level. This would of course require common sense and that is extraordinary these days but its still a valid concept for any democracy.

This was what? An April Fool’s joke presented on April fools day? LOL! Now watch some preposterously stupid prosecutor present this as coming from out of the blue and shocking. (I hope there are TV cameras in that courtroom)

Was it shocking to anyone? GOOD! Every radio and TV broadcast must be questioned and verified by other means hopefully at least 3 independent sources if only for basic human behavioral reasons that most stories are skewed if not totally bent by special interest groups or worse by government agencies protecting their own arses from whatever scandal/mistake/pogrom cover-up of the time(s).

It is up to the individual to do this hopefully easy research. To rely on any once source of info is to be spooked by the ghosts/fears of others repeatedly. It facilitates living a life of fear raised by others who may not have your best interests at heart.

Anyone can remember the Orson Wells’s War of the Worlds alien invasion from Mars April 1st broadcast which panicked several towns and entertained thousands of others. Such a great lesson of group cultural awareness can rarely be obtained in the classroom. Hysteria is its own lesson and our cultural awareness levels up by experiencing such. Even trying to be harmless and fun some would panic anyway and that is the lesson/wisdom gained.

Questioning the gossip one hears over the backyard fence it good. Questioning the rumors heard from friends is good. Questioning ANY news overheard from radio, TV or Internet is good. Questioning anything ANY government says regardless of presentability or apparent fitness is GOOD and HEALTHY. Such self verification breeds a culture that loves facts not fiction.

Because just saying such a thing as ?,felony to call in a false water quality issue,” is ridiculous in the first place its another law that should be thrown out. On the face of it we criticize water quality all the time and worry about it to much calcium/lead/fluoride/volatiles/suspended-solids/rust/etc. harm us every day and sometimes we are wrong and other times right! Making such a law prohibits public debate about water quality matters of which are vitally important to both public health and understanding.

The DJ’s from WTSP were basically questioning the validity of water being healthy or even necessary to human life is good and healthy but no way can be considered criminal. Even if they are not ultimately charged just the brouhaha raised brings to light much self critical insight.

So if it is considerd a felony or punishable offense by WTSP or its listeners… Shame on the involved parties. Pants on fire? Nose too long? Brain dysfunctional? Likely! Since the average listener seems likely to kick someone rather than laugh one might reconsider any property values in the area.

Bergman (profile) says:

I feel a little lame now

I only played fairly minor pranks on April 1st. A phantom keystroker on a friend’s laptop was the most severe one (and I moderated it by attaching a bag of chocolates to the thing).

Most of the pranks I played consisted of a pad of post-its and a pen. I wrote 3.14159 on the post-its and stuck them the the foreheads of everyone I met that day. About half of them got the joke. One of them even asked for a few extra to pass out (via foreheads) to their friends.

A local scale panic due to hihydrogen monoxide? I am in awe.

thnidu (profile) says:

a song about it

There’s a song about it, dated 1997, to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic: you know, “Glory, glory, Hallelujah…”. (Full disclosure: I wrote the lyrics, and it’s on my website at .) It starts:

There’s a chemical that poses deadly danger to us all
If we don’t eliminate it, we are headed for a fall
But our governments refuse to see the writing on the wall
They’re going to let us die!

Ban dihydrogen monoxide!

Ban dihydrogen monoxide!

Ban dihydrogen monoxide

Before it kills us all!

Anonymous Coward says:

Personally I’ve always been a big fan of the dihydrogenmonoxide joke. Even participated in one of them myself in Sweden, collecting signatures to stop the polluting industries.

Aside from being fun on april fools, it teaches three important things:

1) The value of a functional education system.

2) It teaches people to stop worrying about and signing things they don’t understand, and instead go do some homework.

3) It raises awareness about professional peddlers of panic. “WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!” is never a good start for making public policy, creating laws, or starting protests. The sheer amount of crap that’s been done “for public safety, for the children, to stop terrorism, to fight crime, to fight drugs” etcetera is mind boggling.

If you don’t know what things are really about, here’s a tip: Stay calm, and eat cupcakes.

Anonymous Coward says:


very dangerous substance, have too little of it you die, have too much of it.. you die.

a tea spoon of the stuff is enough to kill you (you can drown in as little as a tea spoon of water), it’s responsible for thousands of deaths a year.

It can crush you, burn you, vaporise you, freeze you, it can cut through steel!!

It’s ‘natural’ so you can assume it’s safe, just like Uranium is natural, or snake venom, or the plague.. All 100% natural..

Anonymous Coward says:

War if the worlds

“Hand cites studies by unnamed historians who “calculate[d] that some 6 million heard the CBS broadcast; 1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were ‘genuinely frightened'”. NBC’s audience, by contrast, was an estimated 30 million.”

so 1.7 million people believed it, and 1.2million people believed it but where not scared !!!!..

New that’s dumb..

Trash says:

Virus Alert!

If you receive an e-mail entitled ?Bad times,? delete it immediately! Do not open it. Apparently, this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on CD?s, DVD?s, LP?s or chiseled in stone within 20 feet of your computer. It demagnetizes the stripes on all of your credit cards. It reprograms your ATM access code, screws up the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD?s you attempt to play. It will re-calibrate your refrigerator?s temperature settings so that all your ice cream melts, your milk curdles, your ice rots and your meat reanimates. It will program your phone auto dial to call only your mother-in-law?s number. This virus will mix antifreeze into your fish tank and remove the O from your H2O. It will drink all your beer and refill the bottles with fermented Yak slobber. It will leave dirty socks on the coffee table when you are expecting company. Its radioactive emissions will cause your toe jam and belly button fuzz to migrate behind your ears. It will replace your shampoo with Nair and your Nair with Rogaine, replace your K-Y jelly with Poligrip then start dating your boyfriend/ girlfriend behind your back and bill their hotel rendezvous party to your Visa card. It will cause you to run with scissors in your hands and throw things in a way that is only fun until someone loses an eye. It will give you Dutch Elm Disease and tinea. It will rewrite your backup files and reveal your PIN number via skywriting over South Central L.A. It will change all of your active verbs to the passive tense and incorporate undetectable misspellings that grossly change the interpretations of key sentences. If the ?Bad times? message is opened in a Windows ME environment, it will leave the toilet seat up and hard wire your hair dryer dangerously close to a full bath tub. It will not only remove the ?Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law? tags from your mattresses and pillows, but it will also refill your skim milk with the rancid waste byproduct of liposuction. It will replace all of your luncheon meat with Spam. It will molecularly rearrange your cologne or perfume, causing it to smell like a wino?s hat. It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It will cause your goose bumps to rise and make you wake up screaming in the middle of the night. You will be afraid of the dark, open areas, heights, widths and anybody with the last name Beaman. It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.
And it is mutating as we speak.

nubwaxer says:


i dread the downward path through religion and right wing education agenda resulting in our shameful ignorance. the guy should be commended stupid people got embarrassed by revealing their stupidity. it’s so easy to type the term into a google search box to reveal what should have been obvious when it was stated the substance was flowing out of water taps. talk about killing the messenger.

Hopponit (profile) says:


This reminds me of years ago (alot of ’em.) while taking a remedial driving class. The state trooper teaching us told us about cleaning up after accidents. He told how there was a big tanker wreak where some of the first responders and one of the troopers on the site went to the hospital. They complained of being overcome by the fumes from the tankers load. It was carrying “laboratory grade H2O!” The other troopers didn’t let him live that one down.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...