In the wake of Monday’s effort at humor that not even Andrew “Dice” Clay would find funny from the morning drive show on 790 The Zone in Atlanta, several of you have pointed out that one of the offenders — station co-founder Stephen “Steak” Shapiro — can’t be fired because he owns the place.
Actually, he used to own the place.
In 2010, Shapiro and Andrew Saltzman sold the equity to Lincoln Financial. Which makes Shapiro an employee. Who is now as capable of being terminated as any other employee for the decision to make fun of former Saints defensive back Steve Gleason and his serious medical condition, ALS.
V.P. and General Manager Rick Mack has said that the members of Mayhem in the A.M. “involved with this incident” have been suspended. The choice of words could give the station flexibility to discipline (and possibly terminate) only those who were specifically involved in the bit.
It’s still unclear what role, if any, Shapiro had in the situation, since the audio isn’t (and likely won’t be) made available by the station. Co-host Nick Cellini has acknowledged on his Twitter page that the supposed joke failed miserably. It’s possible that Shapiro was sounding the alarm internally, and that his warnings were ignored.
Regardless, he’s as susceptible to termination as anyone else, since he’s no longer an owner.
Termination is a serious outcome, but it’s possibly the right one in this case. Broadcasters have been fired for far less, sometimes by stations that already were looking for a reason to act. Much of it likely depends on the overall reaction to the situation, which probably will be less vocal than it would have been if the audio had been posted on the station’s website.
On one hand, the audio should be posted, so that it properly can be scrutinized. On the other hand, making the offensive content available for further listening will only magnify the harm caused.