The wonderful disaster of Waterloo, Iowa

On October 5, 1978, a KJHK staffer was bored, so they decided to write up a fake story about a nuclear reactor explosion in Waterloo, Iowa. They then handed it to the news editor, at the time, as a joke then threw it away around 3:30 p.m. Later, a different newscaster saw the paper in the trash. They thought it was authentic, but they didn’t verify if it was true.  

So, on the 4:50 p.m. newscast was read on air. Then several other stations picked up the story. The next day the FCC came to KJHK to figure out what happened. They cleared the news story. They fired the staffers involved and they were cleared of their classes for the rest of the semester. The FCC ended up giving KJHK a slap on the wrist and telling them to not do it again. Bruce Linton, the journalism school faculty advisor at the time was not having any of it.

Today we’re doing amazing. We haven’t written a fake news story since.  

*Correction in video narration: Max Utsler was not the general manager at the time, rather Bruce Linton served as the faculty advisor from the School of Journalism.