Did John Curley’s Fake Death Stem from A Snubbing 20 Years Ago?

The Kitsap Report publishes fake news. We’ve reported this fact before. Created by a 29-year-old self-employed loan officer from Poulsbo named Calvin Courter, the Kitsap Report, as we noted in our March 10 headline, has been “Trolling for laughs” since January. During that stretch the comedy news site has served up “breaking news” on the 2014 Gathering of the Juggalos coming to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, the collapse of the Hood Canal Bridge, and a “Naughty Drive-through Marijuana Store Opening in Gorst.”

None of it, of course, was real. That’s the whole point.

Yesterday Courter was at it again, using The Kitsap Report to publish a story about KIRO Radio personality John Curley dying in a tragic seaplane crash. “Beloved Seattle TV and Radio Host John Curley perished in a seaplane accident in North Lake Washington early this morning,” the story opened with.

It was a joke, naturally, a fact that - if not immediately clear - became obvious with the Kitsap Reports’ inclusion of a doctored tweet from celebrity Tom Hanks offering the condolence: “FUCK JOHN CURLEY.”

Still, some people bought it - just like some people always buy it. The Kitsap Report’s “news” got around, and it wasn’t long before at least a few concerned (read: gullible) people were checking in with Curley to make sure he was still breathing.

For a joke website run by one dude in Poulsbo, in other words, the stupid prank was a smashing success.

In the aftermath, however, not everyone is laughing. While Curley addressed his fake death this morning in good humor - admitting that he let people think he might be dead for 10 minutes just to gauge the reaction - at least one of his colleagues at KIRO Radio, reporter Brandi Kruse, found the gag less than humorous. Perhaps that’s the thing about fictional death stories - they’re a lot funnier if they’re not about someone you know (or if they’re about Jim Diers).

But here’s the big question I had for Courter: Why John Curley?

Turns out there’s a (totally unsubstantiated but kind of funny) story behind it ...

“The beef I have with John Curley starts back in 1994,” Courter told me this morning, clearly winding up for a doozy. “I couldn’t make this shit up.”

Courter explains that he was in fifth grade when his class was invited to a taping of the Ranger Charlie and Roscoe show - a local kids’ program produced by KSTW in Tacoma. “They had some local TV people there. ... It was like a media day,” Courter says of the experience.

One of those local TV people, Courter claims, was Curley - who he says had just taken over the hosting duties with Evening Magazine (Curley signed off from Evening Magazine in 2009, after a 14-year run). Courter remembers not caring much about Ranger Charlie or Roscoe - seeing as his family didn’t get that channel - but being very excited to meet the funny host of one of his favorite shows.

“I did watch a lot of Evening Magazine. I was a weird little kid. They would do cool stories and shit, and John Curley always seemed like a really cool guy,” Courter explains.

“So I walked up to John, and at the time I had a really bad lisp - like a speech impediment. ... I had this little pad of paper, and I asked him for an autograph. ... He just fucking busts up laughing. And I’m just a little kid.”

Humiliated, Courter says he got the autograph, but things got worse when Curley brought another local celebrity in on the joke.

“[Curley] signs my little piece of paper, then he looks over to Steve Pool, who was there too, and he’s like, ‘Steve! Get over here! You gotta hear this!’

“Then he says, ‘Hey kid, say it again!’ ... They both started giggling about how stupid I sounded. ... I’ve kind of hated them ever since.”

So there you go. Coming from the creator of the Kitsap Report, take it for what it’s worth:

A good laugh.

Unless you’re John Curley.

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