Ben Christopher was a young Disc Jockey from
Indiana when he set foot in Tampa Bay as the all night DJ on Y95,
the Rahall sister station of WLCY. Ben was part of the new brigade
hired on by Consultant extraordinaire Bill Hennes (also in Where
Are They Now).
Ben’s claim to fame came on April 1st
1976, when he was asked by night jock Screaming Jay Hawkins (Phill
Hawkins, also in Where Are They Now), to take part in an innocent
April Fool’s joke. “It had the blessing of Program
Director Chuck Morgan. (it really did). Ben obliged to being part
of the bit.
It starts out with
Tedd Webb pretending to be a caller on the request line, asking
for a record by Bloodrock called DOA. Y95 did not have that song
on the play list, only the “acid rock” stations were
playing it. Jay put Tedd on the air making the request, and several
phones were aired from Tedd increasingly agitated because Jay
would not play it.
Tow hours later, while doing the weather forecast
for Tampa Bay, Jay in interrupted by Tedd breaking into the studio
with a copy of the song, demanding jay play it. A fight ensues,
Jay pretends Tedd stabbed him, and Ben comes into the studio yelling
“someone call a doctor!”. Ben’s fake distress
signal violated FCC laws.
The audience bought it hook, line and sinker.
By the time the trio came back on the radio proclaiming “April
Fools”, it was too late. Many listeners contacted the police
agencies in their part of the bay area, and squads from at least
7 law enforcement agencies arrived at the station on Gandy Blvd.
With guns drawn.
To shorten the story, Jay got fired, Tedd and
Ben kept their jobs, but placed on probation. Ben grew from that
incident. Ben started using his real last name Umberger, later
on owned his own radio station, got out of jocking. Ben now is
an Engineer with Clear Channel Communications in Tampa.