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Published October 18, 2012, 11:30 PM

Y-94 gets mileage from ‘deer crossing’ call, but veteran radio host says bit sounds familiar

FARGO – Over the past few weeks “Donna the Deer Lady” has gotten laughs across the country, but the call could keep Y-94 smiling into February.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

FARGO – Over the past few weeks “Donna the Deer Lady” has gotten laughs across the country, but the call could keep Y-94 smiling into February.

While the DJs who answered last month’s call from Donna, who thought deer crossing signs encourage deer to cross the road rather than warn drivers, insist she’s legitimate, others suggest it may be a publicity stunt.

“Moose” Johnson, morning show host on 107.9 the Fox FM, says such “bits” are often used by radio personalities to entertain or just get attention.

“If I had to make an educated guess, I would say that was completely staged and completely planned out,” Johnson said of the “Donna” call. “It sure sounded like it.”

Johnson said bits and on-air promotions are particularly popular in ratings periods, the current one stretching from Sept. 13 through Dec. 5. The next Arbitron ratings will be released in February.

The call from “Donna the Deer Lady” came in mid-September.

“I know that particular bit was actually done on a station down in Texas,” Johnson said. “It’s funny that if it really did happen again that it happened in the exact same way that it happened before.”

What is even odder is that according to the website, a letter expressing the same view about deer crossing signs was published in Munster, Ind., last year. That letter was eventually read by Jay Leno on the “Tonight Show” and posted on actor George Takei’s humorous Facebook page.

Johnson has had his share of fake bits meant to sound like real situations to readers, a favorite being when he pretended to block up his toilet in preparation for a flood only to have the bowl explode, with help from sound effects. Another gimmick was pretending to use Nair instead of shaving his head, then using costume scabs for pictures posted to the station’s Facebook page.

“We’ve had all different kinds of fun throughout the years,” he said.

But the Y-94 DJs, Rat and Zero, said Donna is a legitimate caller.

“As far as we know she is,” said Rat. “She called into us, and after talking to her afterwards, she is a legit lady.”

Zero said she’s a regular caller and has won contests on the station.

“That is by far the most interesting thing she’s said,” Zero added.

“We talked to her on Tuesday,” Rat said, referring to a second call. “I think she’s ready to move on with her life.”

He added that Donna has been teased by friends and neighbors for the call.

The DJs are surprised by the buzz the clip has received, in part because someone not affiliated with the station took the audio, made a video and uploaded it to YouTube. By 4 p.m. Thursday, 10 days after it was posted, the clip had more than 2.4 million views.

Zero said that by noon Wednesday they’d received more than 200 emails about the call just this week alone.

“There’s no way to predict or plan something like this,” Rat said. “Donna the Deer Lady is something we had moved on from quite a while ago, then it blew up on the Internet, and we had no idea and no control over anything. If anything, it gets you a little attention.”

“If they got 2 million hits, that’s unbelievable. That’s huge,” Johnson said. “Just like anything, the more exposure the better for any radio station.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533