Atlanta radio station 790 the Zone has fired the three radio hosts involved in an on-air skit mocking former Saints player Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS. A swift Internet backlash led to angry calls flooding the station, and the trio was initially suspended indefinitely. Hours later, they were terminated.
"We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on 'Mayhem In The AM' on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS," Rick Mack, 790 The Zone senior vice president and general manager, said in a prepared statement. "We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS."
The Falcons also issued a statement on the matter.
“The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning. The content concerning Mr. Gleason was completely inappropriate and is not representative of the views of the Falcons organization, nor does it represent the way we conduct our business on and off the field. To single out Steve the way he was this morning is totally lacking in taste and discretion.”
If nothing else, this reinforces the point that in today's world of tweets, Facebook updates, Tumblrs, and blog posts, there is no such thing as local news.
One of the hosts, Nick Cellini, offered his apology before he was fired.
My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid.— Nick Cellini (@NickCellini) June 17, 2013
Former NFL player Scott Fujita, who also happens to be close friends with Gleason, tweeted earlier Monday that, "I'm going to reserve judgement until I hear this morning's playback from @790TheZone. But right now I'm enraged." Later he tweeted this:
Gleason penned the latest Monday Morning Quarterback with his eyes, detailing what it's like to live with ALS. He says it took him four hours to write the 4,500-word piece.
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