- Atlanta radio station sacks "Mayhem in the AM" hosts
- Their station apologizes to ex-Saints player Steve Gleason, who has ALS
- Fired host calls bit "stupid," says he "Got what I deserved"
The hosts of an Atlanta sports talk radio show were fired Monday after mocking a former football player who's battling Lou Gehrig's disease during their morning show.
Steak Shapiro, Chris Dimino and Nick Cellini aired a spoof of former New Orleans Saints defensive back Steve Gleason, who is battling the neuromuscular disease formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The segment on their "Mayhem in the AM" show featured an imitation of Gleason, who speaks with the aid of an electronic voice synthesizer, telling knock-knock jokes with punchlines like "Smother me, do me a favor."
The AM station 790 The Zone "suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment," Rick Mack, the station's general manager, said in a statement posted online.
"790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS," Mack wrote.
There was no immediate reaction from Dimino, Shapiro or Gleason, who had just written a column for Sports Illustrated that recounted his life with ALS. But via Twitter, Cellini said he had apologized to Gleason's wife, Michel, and called the segment "a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid."
"I was ignorant and it was the right thing to do. Got what I deserved," he wrote.