Holy Cow! History: The Great Hiney Radio Hoax

Terry Dorsey needed a gadget, and he needed it fast. Something clever and really funny that would make people laugh.

The 32-year-old morning DJ had just moved from a radio station in Dayton, Ohio to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Dorsey hit the big time in 1981, okay. But whether he would stay there depended on his ability to turn around the struggling morning show he inherited.

Like many of his on-air colleagues, Dorsey’s life had been an interesting journey. Born and raised in Cincinnati, he graduated from high school just in time to be drafted into the Vietnam War, where he helped defuse landmines as a combat engineer. It was a serious responsibility for a guy known for his jovial, outgoing personality and lightning-quick sense of humor.

Rising through the ranks of the radio industry from small markets to the big city, he found that being funny made him stand out from his competitors. During his Dayton days, for example, he made listeners laugh with outrageous comedy bits presented seriously, as if they were real.

Desperate now to salvage his coveted morning slot in the Dallas market, Dorsey once again turned to this technique. He dug into his fertile imagination – and came up with pure comedy gold.

He produced a series of real-sounding advertisements for the totally fictional Hiney Winery. It was one-sided humor, one fraternity joke after another playing on “hiney,” the socially acceptable slang word for behind.

Knowing a good thing when he saw one, Dorsey exploited the joke for all it was worth. He created more spots promoting the winery’s purported slogan, “You only go around once, so take all the hiney you can.” Listeners were told that Hiney’s wine had been “inspected by a crack inspection team”.

Dorsey couldn’t help it. The more listeners called in to say they liked the ads, the more wacky details and embellishments he added. Like saying the winery was founded by old Uncle Harry Hiney, who first made things at home until his nephews – Big Red Hiney and Thor Hiney – convinced him that “his hiney was too beautiful to be kept to himself”. Their sister, Ophelia Hiney, joined them later. (To fully appreciate this track, imagine hearing his first name spoken in a thick Texas dragline.) Cousin Seymour Hiney finally arrived, too.

And it worked. People were listening. Phone calls poured in every time the fake ads aired. Many people found the commercial parodies hilarious. But a surprisingly large number of listeners wanted to know where they could buy a bottle of Hiney Wine. (Remember, that was decades before tech geeks came up with the idea of ​​Google. You couldn’t just go online and find the Hiney Winery didn’t exist.) they were told it was all a joke, some callers adamantly refused to accept it. The True Believers insisted that their friends had told them how good Hiney was, and they demanded to know which liquor stores sold him so they could try him for themselves.

Dorsey had the good sense to realize he had stumbled upon a gold mine. He and station manager TJ Donnelly began syndicating the concept to radio stations across the country. Each received new commercial scripts each week to read from local advertisers, lending an air of authenticity to listeners. The advertisements were located saying that the Hiney winery was located in a real small town nearby. For example, a Virginia station reported being headquartered in the hub community of Butts Station. In Vermont, a station said nearby Hinesburg was Hiney’s home. Natives were perplexed when visitors showed up asking for directions to a business they had never heard of.

Then there was the swag. Although the winery was not real, the merchandise bearing its name was. Hiney Winery baseball caps, t-shirts, buttons and more have been purchased by enthusiastic fans.

Things really took off when famed Los Angeles DJ Rick Dees (who gave the world the 1976 hit “Disco Duck”) started to cut loose. Dees was mad about it, which further increased his popularity.

Nothing lasts forever, and as the 1980s drew to a close, the Hiney Winery hoax had run its course. He got the last laugh in the 2010s when Skylite Cellars in Washington state produced “Big Red Hiney,” a blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot that oenophiles said was pretty good.

And so the Hiney Winery took its place with the great radio pranks. Although not as famous as Orson Welles’ classic “War of the Worlds” show in 1938, it made people laugh at its simple stupidity.

Because, as advertisers coast to coast have proudly said, “If anything can make you smile, it’s a little Hiney.”

Holy Cow! The story is written by novelist, former television journalist and die-hard history buff J. Mark Powell.

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