Thursday, March 23, 2006

I don't want to work at KTRS

From KSDK Channel 5 St. Louis:
It was in KTRS 550 AM studio D Wednesday morning that talk show host Dave Lenihan was rallying for Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice to become the next National Football League commissioner. Then Lenihan, on the job for just 8 days, says he made a career ending slip.Lenihan said on the air, "She loves football, she's African American which would be kind of a big coon. Oh my God, I totally, totally, totally, totally am sorry for that. I didn't mean that." Lenihan spoke to Newschannel 5 and said, "This morning I was on the radio and I was talking about how great it would be to get Condeleezza Rice to be the commissioner and I meant to say it would be a 'coup' and, unfortunately, I said what a coon it would be."KTRS 550 General Manager Tim Dorsey says it didn't take him long to decide what to do. "Within about 2 seconds of listening to it," says Dorsey.Dorsey fired Lenihan, and apologized to the Secretary of State saying there is "Zero" tolerance for a remark like that."More than anything else, I apologize to Condeleezza Rice and to our listeners for having to hear a remark like that," says Dorsey.

I've heard the clip. Maybe he did it on purpose, maybe not - I can't tell. That's my rub. If he did in fact, simply slip up - this is terrible. In the course of sitting in front of a live microphone for countless hours each week (something I know about) - it's unreasonable to expect a human not to make a mistake from time to time. Get on the net and search around for the Sheppard Smith FOXNEWS video of him saying "Blowjob". Everyone from David Brinkley to Casey Kasem has been caught by a live microphone. The way KTRS management reacted was waaay over the top. They fired the guy within minutes. His explanation wasn't considered. Its obvious to me this is political correctness - nothing more, nothing less. What Lenihan said was unfortunate at best. There was no pattern to his decision making. He'd been there just 8 days.
I can only imagine how my company would react to me making the same blunder. My bet is they would stand behind me. If I appologized - and mis-speaking didn't become commonplace, they'd listen to my explanation - and I'd go on. One thing for sure, if every single word I spoke could result in my firing - I'd freeze up - unable to utter a sound.
The Big 550 KTRS St. Louis. Another of the over 10,000 radio stations I have no desire to work for.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Is it prudent and proper for an employer to fire someone within 20 minutes for the utterance of a single word - any word? No 24 hour cooling off period? No sending him home without pay for a week to get to the bottom of it? Are black Americans so intolerant that they won't cut a white guy a break for a single syllable? Apparently not.

Christie said...

I feel a bit of pity for him - it’s inconceivable that he could have consciously intended to say “coon” (though let’s not forget, Australian supermarkets continue to sell cheese branded with this revolting word.) Whether it’s a freudian slip or not seems a bit beside the point as I don’t know how it could ever be practicable to expect people to regulate their thoughts, or how that could be policed.

If it was a freudian slip - as opposed to a stumbling over consonants, something I am very much prey to - then it’s perhaps harder even to blame him, because by definition an unconscious slip is pathological & beyond the individual’s control.

On the other hand, “she’s African-American, which would be kind of a big COUP” does absolutely reek of patronising tokenism. Still not something a person should be sacked for, though.

And no, I have a very hard time believing that he’d be in the same boat if he’d said she was a big girlie-girl.

Anonymous said...

The big disaster here was the attempt to correct himself. If he’d just sailed straight on, it would have been hard to dispute that he had just mispronounced “coup”.

Liam said...

Sounds like a freudian slip to me.
Still, he should not have been sacked. Even had he made a deliberate racial (or any other kind of) slur, the right way for the station to go about it would have been to stand him down, explain to him what he did wrong, and give him a chance to explain himself or make amends.
Employees shouldn’t live in constant fear of the sack if they slip up.

Anonymous said...

So now you can get fired for “Accidental” hate speech.


I don’t get it. The man was obviously immediately mortified over his tongue-slip. If it was intentional, then fine, fire him. In this case, give out a warning and get over it.

somebody said...