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Monday, April 01, 2024

KHOU 11's 1994 Astrodome moving April Fools' joke

KHOU 11 Houston viewers were pranked on April 1st, 1994, when the station reported that the Astrodome had been moved downtown! 

In some ways, it became true as the Astros later moved downtown.

Many big Houston names of the time were in on the television news prank, too!

Retired photojournalist Nathan Kvinge, the man behind the prank, has released a behind-the-scenes video that is as entertaining as the satirical news package. He even enlists KHOU 11 sports anchor Matt Musil to explain why the joke hit on so many levels with the news at the time concerning Oilers owner Bud Adam's threat to move the NFL team to Jacksonville.

"There was no pushback in the newsroom, in fact I had full support throughout the process from news director David Goldberg," Kvinge told  "Obviously there was concern about giving Oilers owner Bud Adams a chance to 'be in on the joke,' but the PR person for the Oilers was quite dismissive when I contacted him to let him know what we were doing. So I went to my former colleague Dan Patrick, who was doing sports talk on KSEV radio at the time, to speculate 'on-air' as to Adams’ likely reaction."

Kvinge notes that back in 1994, no sophisticated computer software programs were available to a local TV station to create the visual hoax of a relocated Astrodome. Instead, a very talented video production director used a series of wipes between videotapes to create the 8th Wonder of the World-worthy illusion!

"We did a a call from one viewer asking if they really moved the Astrodome, but I’m pretty sure very few viewers were completely fooled," Kvinge added.  "As far as doing prank stories on TV stations today? The term 'fake media' coming into widespread use has pretty much put the end to April Fool’s Day content for professional news organizations. I’d say it’s now mostly going to be friends pranking friends/family on social media for our April 1st fodder."

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Old cartoon explains Astrodome's 'real' origins

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