790/The Zone management suspended its morning show Mayhem in the AM for a bit this morning which made fun of former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who has ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.)
UPDATE 6:41 p.m. EST, Monday, June 17, 2013: The station fired them a few hours later. Details here.
Nick Cellini played Gleason and his colleagues Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino "interviewed" him using a computerized voice a la Stephen Hawking, according to a listener. I don't know what was said or how it played out but clearly, some folks were upset.
Word got around the web, first on a Saints message board, and one of Gleason's teammates Scott Fujita even referenced it on Twitter. Now it's national news. (See USA Today, for instance.)
Gleason, 36, recently wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated about life with ALS, which may have inspired the bit. You can read it here. He now can only communicate with his eyes.
There's now a healthy debate on the Zone Facebook page over whether they should be fired or not. I presume most of the folks (like me) have not heard the bit - and unless someone taped it by happenstance, probably never will.
Cellini, after the show, sent out a Tweet apology.
My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid.— Nick Cellini (@NickCellini) June 17, 2013
But that clearly wasn't enough. At 1:25 p.m., his boss Rick Mack, general manager of Lincoln Financial's Atlanta radio division (which includes Star 94), posted this on the Zone web site:
"We deeply regret the comments made by Mayhem In The AM this morning on 790 The Zone regarding former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason. 790 The Zone, Lincoln Financial Media, our sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support the unfortunate and offensive commentary concerning Mr. Gleason this morning. The members of the show involved with this incident have been suspended indefinitely pending further management review of their actions."
Cellini did not answer his phone when I called moments ago. I left him a message and texted him as well. Given the maelstrom, fair or unfair, I'm sure he was told to keep his mouth shut.