HRM isn’t happy about a Q104 radio prank that involves a fake advertisement telling people to take down their Christmas lights, or face city fines.
“We aren’t amused that it’s created confusion for our residents,” said HRM spokeswoman Katherine VanBuskirk. “It isn’t true. There is no bylaw related to the timing around when you have to have your Christmas lights taken down from your house,” she said.
The fake commercial purports to be an HRM-sponsored advertisement, and states offenders will be fined per bulb, up to a maximum of $750.
“It does sound very real,” VanBuskirk said.
HRM’s call centre has taken about 30 calls from residents so far, and has had some online inquiries.
Q104 on-air personality B.J. Wilson said the intent was to get people to call HRM. “If they weren’t getting calls, then we would have failed.”
“What’s sad about this is that people have lost so much confidence in city council that this is believable,” he said. “Council has done enough things in the past to tick people off that when they hear this they think ‘Are you serious? Now they’re doing this?’”
Wilson said the station has had numerous calls, Tweets and Facebook posts from listeners outraged that HRM would dare tell them when to take down their Christmas lights.
One listener, who had already taken down his lights, threatened to put them back up again in protest.
Q104 plans to officially “give up the joke” tomorrow, Jan. 27.
Wilson said starting Friday, listeners will be directed to a website for more information, and to report an offender. When they go the website it will become obvious that the whole thing has been a joke.
“It has been fun,” Wilson said.
HRM doesn’t plan to take any action against the radio station
“We recognize that it was a joke, and we’re taking it as such,” said VanBuskirk.