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Clarksville, TN – I know a thing or two about the public airwaves. I spent nearly forty years as a broadcaster, DJ, announcer, talk-show host, whatever they’re called now. I know firsthand how easy it is to “open mouth insert foot.” I also know how sacred the public airwaves are, spending the last 18 years of my career as the owner of a radio station.
Which makes this latest story even more disgusting to me.
During “Mayhem in the AM,” an Atlanta morning radio show, the hosts decided it would be “funny,” or “cute” to make fun of someone suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a debilitating disease that ultimately claims the life of anyone who suffers with it.Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints football player, was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Since his diagnosis, he has been a champion for ALS treatment and diagnosis.
IT’S NOT FUNNY! IN NO SHAPE OR FORM!
Well, “Mayhem in the AM,” on 790 the Zone, featuring Chris Dimino, Steak Shapiro, and Nick Cellini, thought it would be funny to do a “skit” in which they pretended that Gleason was a caller to the show and set up a fake caller with a robotic voice, because the disease has robbed Gleason of his ability to speak. Then they wondered out loud, ON THE AIR, whether Gleason would be alive by next week.
How does anybody think that would be funny? Really? I have never been so disgusted in all my life, and I’ve done some pretty stupid things on the radio myself.
This, along with the Australian DJ’s caught up in the Queen of England disaster, damages an industry that’s been limping along as it is.
The Atlanta radio market is awesome, always has been. Loaded with talent and very competitive. Millions of advertising dollars hang in the balance.
These three guys will never work in radio again, and the management of this radio station will have a hard time recovering from the publicity this little stunt has generated.
More heads could roll.
The media, in all shapes and forms, has gotten so desperate for listeners, readers, viewers, you name it, that they will stop at nothing short of disgusting to attract an audience.
Have you watched the network news lately? Lost as last year’s Easter egg.
But the underlying story here is, where is the compassion for our fellow man? How can you possibly think it’s ok to make fun of someone suffering like that? Then to abuse the public airwaves and the responsibility that comes with it, by broadcasting it for all to hear?
I’m not perfect, far from it, and like I said, I’ve said some things I wish I hadn’t, all in the effort to be funny or cute, but this little “skit” was a bad idea the moment it was conceived. And the fact that they went ahead and did it anyway just churns my stomach.
I don’t feel bad for someone who throws away a career this way. They should have known better.
Hank Bonecutter is a retired broadcaster and media consultant based in Clarksville, Tennessee.
His career includes stints at WKDA/WKDF and WKQB Rock 106FM, WLAC-AM in Nashville.
He concluded his career as owner/talk show host at WJZM-AM in Clarksville.
He has also performed stand-up comedy at various comedy clubs around the region, including Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville, and The Comedy Catch in Chattanooga.
Currently the President of Bonehead Promotions, he’s an advertising consultant and media strategist.
An avid motorcyclist, Hank blogs about his travels exclusively at Clarksville Online.
You can follow Hank on Facebook and Twitter, @bonecutter01 and @boneheadnews.
Topics790 The Zone, ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Announcer, Atlanta Georgia, Atlanta Radio, Australian DJ, Broadcaster, Chris Dimino, Clarksville TN, DJ, Mayhem in the AM, Morning Show, Network News, New Orleans Saints, Nick Cellini, Public Airwaves, Queen of England, Steak Shapiro, Steve Gleason, Talk Show Host
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