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Radio personalities apologize for prank call to duchess's hospital

By Brad Lendon, CNN
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Christian says he's "gutted, shattered and heartbroken"
  • It's "gut-wrenching" that the prank apparently led to a nurse's suicide, Mel Greig said
  • The pair says the decision to air the recorded prank call was not theirs

(CNN) -- The two Australian radio personalities who made the prank phone call to a British hospital caring for the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge made tearful apologies Monday for making the call, which may have led to the suicide of a nurse who spoke to the pair.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian, both crying at times, told two Australian television shows Monday that their thoughts are with the family of Jacintha Saldanha, the 46-year-old nurse who put the prank call through to the ward where the duchess was.

Saldanha apparently committed suicide Friday.

"I'm very sorry and saddened for the family, and I can't imagine what they've been going through," Greig said on the program "Today Tonight."

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Christian described himself as "gutted, shattered and heartbroken."

"For the part we played, we're incredibly sorry," Christian said on "Today Tonight."

The pair said the idea for the call came out of a production meeting before their 2DayFM show, the idea being to capitalize on what was the hottest topic in the news, Catherine's pregnancy.

The prank has drawn public outrage, which has snowballed since the nurse's death.

"This death is on your conscience," reads one post on 2DayFM's Facebook page. Several posters accused Greig and Christian of having "blood on your hands."

But in their interviews Monday, both stressed that while they made the call to King Edward VII Hospital, they did not have a say on whether it went to air. The call was recorded and then went through a vetting process at their network, Southern Cross Austereo, before it was broadcast, they said.

"This was put through every filter that everything is put through before it makes it to air," Christian said in an interview with the program "A Current Affair."

But Christian said he did not know what that vetting process entailed.

"I'm certainly not aware of what filters it needs to pass through," he said.

"Our role is just to record and get the audio," Christian said.

Greig and Christian said they never expected the prank call to be successful.

Death casts glare on 'shock jocks'

Posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, the pair said they thought their bad accents would give them away and whoever answered the phone at the hospital would hang up on them.

"We wanted to be hung up on with our silly voices," Greig said.

"We assumed that we'd be hung up on, and that would be that," Christian said.

But they were put through to the duchess's ward and given some details of her medical condition.

"It was never meant to go that far. It was meant to be a silly little prank that so many people have done before," Greig said.

It was Saldanha who put the call through.

"If we played any involvement in her death, then we're very sorry for that," said Greig, who described how she found out about Saldana's apparent suicide.

"It's the worst phone call I've had in my life," she said, fighting tears.

"There's not a minute that goes by that we don't think about her family and what they must be going through, and the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching," Greig said.

The pair have been taken off the air by their network, which has not said when they might return.

"I don't even want to think about going back on air, to be honest," Greig said.

"I'm still trying to make sense of it all," Christian said. "We're shattered. We're people, too."

Greig said she'd willingly face Saldanha's family if it would help bring them closure.

"If that's gonna make them feel better, then I'll do what I have to do," she said.

"I've thought about this a million times in my head, that I've wanted to just reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry," Greig said. "I hope they're OK, I really do."

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Prank call tragedy
December 12, 2012 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
As the family and media search for answers, a picture emerges of a generous, caring woman who was caught up in a media maelstrom.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
Two DJs responsible for the prank call speak of their sorrow that a nurse caught up in the call apparently killed herself.
December 8, 2012 -- Updated 2156 GMT (0556 HKT)
Two DJs are under fire after the death of a nurse who received a hoax phone call. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
In this whole tragic affair Jacintha Saldanha was truly powerless, Ross Stevenson writes, explaining why airing the call was wrong.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1042 GMT (1842 HKT)
The apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha has provoked outrage, sadness and demands for retribution in all corners of the media.
December 10, 2012 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
An Australian radio network defends its prank DJs, saying the media around the world has carried out a "witch hunt" against them.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
The hospital where a nurse committed suicide after being duped by a hoax condemned the station responsible in a strongly worded letter.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
The chairman of the Australian radio network has called the apparent suicide of one of the nurses duped by the prank "truly tragic."
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Many social media users were quick to point fingers at the two radio hosts who made the call and then promoted it on Facebook.
December 7, 2012 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Two Australian radio DJs made a prank call to the hospital where the duchess is staying, claiming to be Queen Elizabeth II and her son, Prince Charles.
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