Radio station cancels programming for day of sensitivity training

A few years ago, a sports bro at an all-sports radio station in Boston compared an escaped gorilla at a local zoo to an inner city student bussed to a school in the suburbs.

He still works there. He’s had “sensitivity training” because that sort of thing plays big in one of the most racist cities in America and in one of the most vile neighborhoods on the radio dial — sportstalk radio.

That radio station is scrapping all of its live programming on Friday, it announced on Wednesday. All of its employees will be busy attending sensitivity training.

It comes after Tom Brady threatened to walk from his interview arrangement with WEEI after a host called his daughter “an annoying little pissant” and another host impersonated a Chinese accent when talking about an American- born sports agent of Asian descent who speaks perfect English.

But neither of those events is what led Entercom, the giant conglomerate that also owns three stations in the Twin Cities, to stop looking the other way.

Oh, please.

Advertisers started bailing and that’s what gets a station owner’s attention. And prior to the announcement, the Red Sox indicated they had “a growing level of concern” about the station that carries their games.

Even the state’s attorney general — not explaining why this was the last straw — suggested pulling state advertising.

There was only one thing left to do: theater. Pure theater.

“Sensitivity training for sports talk hosts is like teaching NFL players how to tackle gently,” Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers Magazine, tells the Boston Herald.

Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung, who called out the station in a column Monday, writes today that it’s a step in the right direction.

She declared this week that the station had crossed a line with its recent woes. Comparing a black student to a gorilla didn’t?

Now some of you are already asking: Why does it matter to me? I can just turn off the radio. I don’t even listen toWEEI, but their vile comments — whether it’s about women or people of color — give license to listeners to offend.

It no longer becomes a bunch of guys mouthing off in front of a microphone but building a culture of hate and acceptance of the unacceptable. It explains how locker room talk can elect a president.

I’m not espousing theories here. Look what happened when I tweeted out the Globe’s story about Fauria’s suspension. I thought the station didn’t go far enough and should have suspended co-hosts Glenn Ordway and Lou Merloni, as accessories to an offense. Listen to the tape: Their laughing egged Fauria on.

Many people told me I need to lighten up — and they were polite about it. Others decided to respond like a WEEI host:

Predictably, the listeners aren’t happy.

“WEEI has entertained me more than the Red Sox have lately,” one said.

Others have said they’ll organize their own effort to pressure advertisers… in the Boston Globe, as a penalty for printing Leung’s column.

Maybe the station should just broadcast the sensitivity training.

  • Mike Worcester
    • rallysocks

      I read the story and then made the mistake of reading the comments. Mostly ‘free speech is dead!’ and ‘we should be able to talk about counting down until we can go after that fine lady!’ and ‘but they’re handing out condoms to the athletes!’

      I really need to stay away from the internets…

  • Jerry

    And yet KFAN somehow manages to find hosts who are, in order: intentionally idiotic, annoying, idiotic again, and arrogantly condescending. I’ll take this over offensive.

    • Jim in RF

      Been a number of years, but I still remember Paul Allen joking about Hamster Night at Bay Meadows.

      • Jerry

        PA is the personality that would do the best in other markets. I don’t know if he has gotten better but he was a sexual harassment case waiting to happen.

  • chlost

    those sensitivity trainers have their job cut out for them. Good luck. I am pretty certain there will be comments about the training made either on the air or off.

  • Guest

    Folks and companies are free to be offensive…..and free to have the public respond

    • They have an FCC license requiring them to serve in the public interest.

      • Guest

        Good Point. I stand corrected

  • RBHolb

    What percentage of the audience for this station tunes in largely to hear the offensive talk?

    “Yeah, I love those guys. They aren’t worried about being politically correct.”

    • Lindsey

      Yeah, as if being polite is the worst thing a person can do.

      • rallysocks

        oh no!!! It’s the complete wussification of America!!!11!

  • KTFoley

    This comes on the day that a West Coast radio host for the very same genre lost his job over comments about Chloe Kim on Barstool Sports.
    (ETA: Sorry, I should have realized Mike Worcester’s first comment also had this link.)

    Remember, Boston: HR training is not to educate you about things you should have learned growing up. It’s to lay the groundwork for holding you accountable for your behavior.

    Let’s hope every PowerPoint presentation, small-group discussion, read-and-acknowledge procedure, FAQ lecture on Friday addresses these sensitive topics:
    – verbal & written warnings
    – ineligible for advancement/bonuses
    – suspension
    – termination
    – civil & criminal action

  • MikeB

    There will always be a market for the crass, grotesque, and the obscene. how many Sensitivity Training jokes be on the air after this?

  • Thank you MPR and public radio, for being voices of civility and truth. And for doing the right thing when you have to.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    On a local note, were any other Twins fans relieved to hear that the Twins will be back on WCCO this summer? For me the game broadcast is the same no matter which station. It’s the surrounding coverage and what they can do during the inevitable weather delays that makes a difference. ‘CCO always did that part better than KSTP and the Polhad owned FM station never really tried.

    • Jerry

      So much Imagine Dragons

      I like it because baseball sounds better with that AM crackle

    • Bridget L.

      For whatever reason, my car doesn’t tune in the AM stations so I’m a little worried. I’ll have to get a new radio if I can’t get the station because I LOVE listening to baseball on the radio. It’s how I fell in love with the game.