Fired radio host: I would have been offended

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   June 19, 2013 at 8:27 AM

One of the three "Mayhem in the AM" radio hosts fired after mocking former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason's Lou Gehrig's disease said the segment was "quickly conceived and ill-advised."

Steak Shapiro had many words, none positive, to describe the bit in which he and his co-hosts Chris Dimino and Nick Cellini imitated Gleason's synthetic voice to tell insensitive jokes.

"I would have been offended," Shapiro said, if he had been listening to the skit Monday morning. "You walk a fine line trying to be somewhat on the edge. We blew it. We blew it in a big way."

He called the segment "stupid," "offensive," "awful" and "not funny," too.

Shapiro, Dimino and Cellini were suspended within hours as listeners reacted angrily to the segment, and fired by Monday evening.

Shapiro said he and his co-hosts of the Atlanta-based show conceived of the skit during a commercial break as a way to rib the Atlanta Falcons rival Saints. Gleason was the guest writer on the popular "Monday Morning Quarterback" column on the Sports Illustrated website this week.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known more commonly as Lou Gehrig's disease, has significantly hindered Gleason's physical abilities, meaning he can't speak -- thus the synthetic voice -- and uses his eye movements to type.

All three radio hosts apologized, via a statement from the station's general manager Rick Mack.

"790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners no way endorse or support this kind of content," Mack said. "We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS."

Gleason responded, saying the apology had been "received and accepted."

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