Buffalo radio station fires person for “toast” comment

 

Co-host fired, show suspended after comment go viral 

On Wednesday, a Buffalo radio personality compared two Black female celebrities skin to “toast”.

Now he’s “toast”.

Classic Rock WGRF-FM (97 Rock) Morning Bull co-host Rob Lederman was fired Wednesday for those comments, for comparing how he likes toast to black women’s skin including tennis star Serena Williams and actress Halle Berry. 

A tweet surfaced of the comment with audio on social media and as you can imagine, it didn’t take long for this to go viral: 

After an advertiser client promptly pulled out from the station, it didn’t take long for WGRF owner Cumulus Media to take action by not only firing Lederman – but shutting down the entire Morning Bull morning show, including co-host Rich “Bull” Gaenzler and Chris Klein. And the comment had implications beyond WGRF – Gaenzler also lost his job as the in-arena announcer for the Buffalo Sabres. Stating the Morning Bull was suspended, Cumulus also wiped the show from the station’s website, likely meaning the show is gone – probably for good. 

The now deposed-of duo of Rich and Rob from 97 Rock in Buffalo.

“CUMULUS MEDIA operates from a clearly-defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Rob Lederman’s comments made on The Morning Bull Show are in direct violation of those principles.” the company said in a statement. “We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show’s on-air talent. We apologize, and deeply regret the incident.” 

Cumulus owns conservative talk WLS-AM, classic hits WLS-FM and alternative rock WKQX-FM in Chicago. 

The comment drew swift condemnation Wednesday, including from former WKBW-TV investigative Madison Carter and the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists. By Wednesday evening, elected officials were weighing in, including Buffalo mayor Byron Brown. 

In a Buffalo News interview Thursday, Lederman regretted using the language he used the day before. “I could easily see how someone could be offended by that. I get that…It sounds terrible, and it is terrible.”

On Friday, Halle Berry responded to Lederman’s comment as reported by CBS affiliate WIVB

This is the latest incident in a long line of radio misconduct involving race and/or gender in the industry, even before the death of George Floyd forced the industry into dealing with these issues. 

In 1993, radio personalities Steve Shannon and D.C. Chymes were fired from WKBQ-FM in St. Louis two days after using a racial slur toward a black caller live on the air. In 2005, New York City’s WQHT (Hot 97) fired several on-air personalities after mocking tsunami victims in Indonesia and using slurs against Asian-Americans. 

In 2016, suburban Coal City rocker WRXQ-FM fired evening host and small business owner Ray Odom after appearing on CNBC’s The Profit, declaring to host and Chicago-area resident Marcus Lemonis “I’m a sexist, egotistical, racist pig on the radio.” (Lemonis obviously passed on the partnership.) 

Lederman was a long time personality at WGRF, dating back to 1991 and is a comedy club owner. WGRF was formerly part of the WGR-AM-FM-TV combo dating back to the 1960s (long separated from each other, the TV station is now known as NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV.)

It shows you how a dumb comment by one person – just one – can bring down an entire franchise, affecting anything and everyone. As a longtime radio veteran, Lederman should have known better and when you say “I know I’ll get in trouble for this”, you’re basically saying “I want to end my career” – not to mention others. 

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