Redskins Flagship Hosts Suspended For Anti-Transgender Comments

Two sports radio hosts have been suspended for comments made about transgender basketball player Gabrielle Ludwig. The radio station, WTEM/”ESPN 980″, is owned by Daniel Snyder, who also owns the Washington Redskins.

The afternoon drive duo in Washington, D.C. known as “The Sports Reporters” are silent this week in the wake of a firestorm brewing from remarks that the hosts made on their program the previous week.

On the December 6 edition of the show, hosts Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin had made jarring comments mocking Gabrielle Ludwig, a 50-year-old women’s basketball player who is also a transgender; she had also played college basketball earlier in her life as Robert Ludwig.

The audio excerpt, posted by the gay-oriented sports website Outsports, presents Czaban and Pollin making jokes such as the Austin Powers line, “it’s a man, baby”, and using the pronouns “he/she” and “it” to describe Ludwig.

On Tuesday, the radio station that employs the men, WTEM, known on-air as “ESPN 980,” had suspended them for their remarks, which WTEM parent company Red Zebra Broadcasting believes “crossed the line… Such intolerance and insensitivity will never be tolerated by this company.”

The suspension is reported to be for just two days (Tuesday, December 11 and Wednesday, December 12).

In addition, ESPN added their own response, stressing that while the remarks of Czaban, who in the past was a popular personality on Fox Sports Radio, and Pollin are “completely against ESPN’s company culture and values… the two are not employees of ESPN and made the comments on an affiliated radio station that controls its own local content.”

As previously mentioned, “ESPN 980” is run by Red Zebra Broadcasting, which is owned by Daniel Snyder – who also owns a team you might have heard of called the Washington Redskins. WTEM, as well as a handful of suburban FM stations, serve as the Redskins’ flagship network.

Some may view this incident as a bit more serious than an episode from 2004, when Don and Mike, the afternoon drive show on the Redskins’ old flagship, WJFK-FM, uttered the word “bulls***” on the air twice. (WJFK is currently an all-sports station and thus a rival of WTEM.)

If you ask me, even more offensive than what Czaban and Pollin said about Ludwig is that they’re only going to be sidelined for two days, according to the station that gives them three hours a day to voice their opinions on sports.

Earlier this year, Scott Kaplan lost his morning radio gig at “XX 1090” in San Diego after going on a diatribe about a female personality on a regional sports network, the since-folded “The Mtn.”, being a “sasquatch of a woman” and less appealing than “Holly Rowe’s giant butt.” Kaplan has since started hosting a show for a video channel powered by a local newspaper.

Meanwhile, that joker Bruce Jacobs is still on the air in Albany after his nonsensical rant about the WNBA.

As for Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin, well, here’s the website for their show. Let me ask, when was the last time they updated this thing? The first picture you’re greeted with is one of Brooke Hundley, the ESPN producer made famous for her tryst with former ESPN analyst Steve Phillips – some four or five years ago. There’s also a photo of a supermodel with a reference to Terrell Owens, who is no longer active in the NFL. And when you finally get to a video commemorating the “30th anniversary of the Miracle at the Meadowlands,” that tells you that, yes, they have not updated their website since 2008 – or four years.

Yet they’ve managed to set back society forty years with their choice words about a transgender athlete.

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NBC Fail, Pro Football Talk Edition

Pro Football Talk, a property of NBC Sports, erroneously reported that Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe resigned his post as a blogger for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He had actually been writing for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.

Remember during the London Olympics when the #NBCFail hashtag was all the rage?

Sadly, it’s time to dust it off as one of their sports properties, and a respected one at that – and for that matter, one that rarely gets it wrong – has made two boo-boos in one post.

On Saturday morning, Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings punter and noted gay rights activist, abruptly ended his blog for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, in the wake of the paper publishing an editorial on the state’s marriage amendment, which Minnesota citizens will be voting on this Election Day. The content of the editorial apparently rubbed Kluwe the wrong way, and he tweeted that he “will not be associated with any organization that tries to pull some bullshit like that.”

Fast forward to Saturday evening, and the bullshit that ProFootballTalk.com apparently pulled.

The popular football news and rumors website, an NBC Sports property since 2009, published an item with the following headline: “Kluwe quits Star-Tribune over gay marriage issue.”

One problem: The newspaper Kluwe blogged for was the St. Paul Pioneer Press, founded in 1849. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which opened for business eighteen years later, does not employ any Vikings players that we know of.

And to make matters worse, when Pro Football Talk posted the link to their Twitter account, not only did they erroneously name the Star-Tribune as Kluwe’s former newspaper, they misspelled the word “quits,” as in “quites.”

Many eagle-eyed Twitter followers noticed one or both errors – including Michael Rand, who only happens to work for the paper that PFT had mistakenly passed off as Kluwe’s former employer:

More Twitter reaction to NBC/PFT’s two fails for the price of one:

Apparently, somebody over at Pro Football Talk finally realized that there was something inaccurate about the story and the corresponding tweet, and within an hour, they posted a new link (the URL bearing the words “pioneer press” instead of “star tribune”) to a story that had all four references to “Star-Tribune” replaced with “Pioneer-Press.”

But was the respective tweet entirely corrected? Well, not quit…

Here’s hoping that if an NFL team adds kicker Neil Rackers to their roster, Mike Florio doesn’t write that the team has actually signed Neil Young.

Darren Rovell's Social Media Consultant Bullies 15-Year-Old Via Facebook: "You're Probably Just Gay"

When you visit the personal website of Meredith Kenyon, you’re greeted with this title header: “Prepare to have your mind blown.”

That being said, prepare to have your mind blown.

A current student at St. John’s University, Kenyon has been working for Sports Illustrated under the official title of “social media intern” for the last month or so. And according to her LinkedIn profile, she’s been working as Darren Rovell’s “social media consultant” at CNBC for exactly one year and counting. (Important note: I’m hearing from a very reliable source that at this time, Kenyon is not working directly for CNBC or Rovell, but only in a “brainstorming” capacity – read the description on her LinkedIn page, and you be the judge.)

At any rate, we’ll see if the counting stops for either of these gigs once the lid is blown off of this development.

This was tweeted on Friday by Brad Wolff. It’s a screengrab of a Facebook message conversation he had on Thursday with Kenyon. According to his Facebook page (not linked here), Wolff is a “blogger/radio host at FanVsFan.com – which operates the corresponding Twitter account from which the screengrab emanates.

By the way, Wolff is only 15 years old. Keep that in mind.

Anyhow. Kenyon and Wolff engaged in a Facebook message back and forth, stemming from accusations that Kenyon has made suggesting that Wolff was behind another Twitter account, @ParkerKeen. The full conversation is at the bottom of this post, but here’s the vital exchange between the two that you should read:

Wolff: Whatever, Meredith. I’m telling the truth. If you don’t believe me, I apologize. If you don’t want to believe me, sucks for me. Great that my friend thought it was funny, and it punished me. Nothing I can do now.

Kenyon: “Oh, I thought you were nuts long before we saw that account.”

Wolff: “It was not my account. What’s wrong with me?”

Kenyon: “Nothing is wrong with you.

“You’re probably just gay.

“And that’s OK.

“Or mentally unstable.”

Wolff: “Neither. You’re really classy, though.”

Wow.

I think all of that working for Darren Rovell and SI has gotten to Meredith Kenyon’s head. In fact, on May 16, she tweeted: “Working at Sports Illustrated has made me excellent at pretending to know who virtually everyone is.”

Breaking: Sports Illustrated intern and Darren Rovell’s personal coffee grabber Meredith Kenyon pretends to know who Brad Wolff is, fails.

Let’s not focus on what led up to this exchange (this is nothing like Wolff’s Facebook account being compromised and inadvertently ended up tagging Kenyon, among others, in a sneaker picture). Let’s focus on Kenyon’s response to Wolff’s openly wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”

“You’re probably just gay… And that’s OK… Or mentally unstable.”

From the sounds of this, it appears that, in Ms. Kenyon’s view, being gay is “wrong.” That’s not necessarily a badge of honor you want to wear on your sleeve when you’re representing Sports Illustrated or Darren Rovell.

Especially if you’re a social media consultant assisting with a Twitter account with, oh, just around a million followers or so.

Now, if she were a social media consultant for Caiden Cowger, we can see her expressing that point of view. Granted, it’s still one that shouldn’t be expressed in the public eye.

The thing about sending messages through Facebook is, unlike Twitter, you can’t unsend a message as easy as you can delete a tweet. So that’s likely why Kenyon threw in the “and that’s OK” message, realizing the message that she previously hit “send” on.

Nice move, “social media consultant.”

Did she mean to write to Wolff, “You’re probably just mentally unstable” without the “gay” reference? It doesn’t make it right. In fact, it’s just exhibiting bad people skills.

Now, I ask you: Just what on Earth is a person with bad people skills doing earning a living in social networking?

Especially if she flaunts “pretending to know who virtually everyone is”?

Yet she struck out in correctly guessing a random person’s sexual and mental orientations.

The fact of the matter is, you have no business going down that road when you’re representing any high-profile company, let alone Sports Illustrated.

Imagine: A “social media consultant” taking a homophobic potshot at someone through social media.

Not a good week for Darren Rovell. First, he finds out he’s been punked by a phony pimp, and now this rears its ugly head.

Maybe he should settle down this weekend with the latest edition of Playboy.

As for Ms. Kenyon… Maybe this issue of Newsweek will do.

Is your mind blown yet?

As promised, here’s the full exchange between Mr. Wolff and Ms. Kenyon, as forwarded to me by Wolff himself, who has also issued a statement regarding this kerfuffel. (You’ll notice from these screengrabs that, unlike the original screengrab that started all this, Ms. Kenyon’s profile picture is not visible here – which means that she’s blocked Mr. Wolff since this went public.)

Mike's Off: Francesa Falsely Reports Tim Tebow Turned Down Rosie O'Donnell Radio Show Due To "Her Lifestyle"

Mike Francesa told listeners that Tim Tebow refused to appear on Rosie O'Donnell's radio show "because of her lifestyle." That was moments after this photo, showing Tebow and O'Donnell sitting within feet of each other, was tweeted by Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, O'Donnell's current colleague - and Francesa's former colleague.

Time for another episode of “Punk Fiction” starting Mike Francesa as Winston (The Sports Radio Host Who Cried) Wolf.

At the top of his Friday afternoon “Mike’s On” show, Francesa – who was broadcasting from a hotel in Indianapolis, site of Super Bowl XLVI – said that Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was making the rounds on “radio row,” dropping by several radio shows – except for Rosie O’Donnell’s SiriusXM show. Francesa told his millions of listeners, and many viewers on YES Network, that Tebow, the devout Christian known for post-touchdown praying formations that bear his name, refused to do O’Donnell’s radio show due to her sexual orientation.

Or as Francesa put it, “because of her lifestyle.”

Contrary to the new title of his show, Mike’s off on this one. Way off.

It’s no secret that Francesa has a history of making inaccurate statements on his show. In fact, right after the Giants and Patriots advanced to this year’s Super Bowl, Francesa recalled how the last time both teams faced each other in the Super Bowl four years ago (in which the Giants defeated the then-undefeated Patriots 20-17), he picked the Patriots to beat the Giants by a score of 20-17… only to have audio evidence surface that confirmed him actually picking New England to beat New York in Super Bowl XLII by a score of 35-17.

Yep, Mike’s off.

But he was off the chart with his Tim Tebow/Rosie O’Donnell “report.”

First off, Tim Tebow has not even played a full season in the NFL, and he’s already got a worldwide following amongst football fans and churchgoers alike. And when you can get two-hit wonder John Parr to re-record the bigger of his two hits to include references to you, you wear that as a badge of honor. For him to actually decide to blow off Rosie O’Donnell – who announced in 2002 that she is gay, and married her partner in San Francisco in 2004 – because of her sexuality, would be a major bonehead move on his part. Such an ignorant move would dramatically demolish his vast fan base. That certainly doesn’t sound like something Tim Tebow would do.

And given the source, Mike Francesa – The Sports Radio Host Who Cried Wolf – it’s no wonder the “report” didn’t spread like wildfire across the Twittersphere, let alone the news cycle, during the afternoon. Even a sports radio host with more credibility like Jim Rome – and that’s not saying much – might move the needle by suggesting Tebow would not want anything to do with O’Donnell because she’s gay.

And just when you thought this latest in a long line of lies from Francesa was sad, there was confirmation that Tebow did indeed appear on O’Donnell’s radio show for at least “30 seconds.” Unfortunately, unlike the revisionist history Super Bowl XLII pick, there’s no audio of Tebow’s appearance, but we have a photo that proves that they were within five feet of each other – because how does that saying go, a picture is worth proving a thousand fabrications of a sports radio host? Anyway, that’s Tim Tebow on the far right.

Here’s the kicker: The source of this photo was the man you see right there in the middle – Chris Russo. Mike Francesa’s former on-air partner. Just days ago on “radio row,” these two were all chummy on their respective radio shows.

The timestamp on that photo was 1:07 PM. Francesa had announced just seconds later that Tebow had denounced O’Donnell.

Would anyone be surprised if Tim Tebow filed a lawsuit against Mike Francesa on the grounds of libel or slander? Certainly, Francesa’s track record of mistruths is appalling. Yet he continues extending that track record, despite being caught in lies many, many times, to millions of listeners and viewers worldwide.

It seems the ultimate way to prove him wrong is to prove him guilty in a court of law.

Stretching the truth about a Super Bowl score is one thing.

Suggesting a popular football player is ostracizing a celebrity “because of her lifestyle” – why, even Bruce Jacobs would have to admit that’s pretty low.

In “Pulp Fiction,” Winston Wolf proclaims, “I solve problems.”

Mike (The Sports Radio Host Who Cried Wolf) Francesa? He is a problem.

UPDATE: Here is a better photo showing Tim Tebow enjoying Rosie O’Donnell’s company – further cementing how much of a habitual liar Mike Francesa is. (CREDIT: Getty Images.)

The Grammar Flag Is Out For FOX's Tony Siragusa

Broadcasters like Tony Siragusa should know better than to betray their circle of 26 friends known as the alphabet. During a playoff game in San Francisco, he was close to pronouncing the word “flag” and certainly did not earn himself a cigar.

I’m only going to post this one more time: When you’re a responsible broadcaster, be it in sports or any other field, don’t let your phonics fail you.

In other words, you’ve got 26 important friendships to mind: each and every letter of the alphabet. For if you were to neglect one of them when you really, really need it, there might be unfortunate consequences.

I’ve already had to give NBC’s Mike Milbury a type-lashing just two days into the new year. Now, I have to give a syntax scolding to Tony Siragusa.

In the second quarter of the Saints/49ers divisional playoff game on Saturday, Darren Sproles appeared to have lost a fumble after being tackled by a 49ers defensive player.

Siragusa, working the sidelines, as he is part of Fox’s No. 2 booth of Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston, announced to viewers that “the challenge flag is out.”

Except Tony left out a very important letter in that sentence… yep, the “L” in “flag.”

What boggles the mind is that Siragusa so freely pronounced an “L” less than a second prior to the word “flag” – two of them, in fact, back-to-back.

And consider this took place in San Francisco, which is known to have a huge gay/lesbian population.

Now, I’m sure Siragusa didn’t mean to offend any homosexuals with what he said (as opposed to people who crack jokes about gays on their radio show, and then follow it up with a less-than-sincere apology). And I’m sure if this was an ESPN game, Siragusa would be forced to make an apology no sooner than the next commercial break.

But I’m not suggesting that he should apologize for what came out of his mouth.

What he should apologize for, however, is betraying one of his 26 friends.

Auld Lang Sigh: Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against WIP Bigwig Another Black Eye For Sports Radio

A lawsuit filed against Marc Rayfield, who oversees several Philadelphia radio stations, including sports WIP-AM/FM, is yet another blow to sports radio in a year that has been totally out of bounds.

The former director of marketing communications for a Philadelphia news station is taking her former boss to court on grounds of sexual harassment.

Attorneys Samuel First and Christopher Wagner have filed a lawsuit against CBS Radio’s entities in New York and Philadelphia on behalf of their client, Shelley Kanther, who claims she endured a “highly offensive, discriminatory environment and culture at CBS Philly.” Kanther was fired from her position at KYW Newsradio 1060 in Philadelphia, an action that she thinks is “in retaliation for… complaints” about the “degrading and extremely upsetting” atmosphere that she and co-workers experienced while working at the top-rated all-news station in Market No. 7. “No remedial action of any kind was ever taken” at KYW, according to the lawsuit, “despite Ms. Kanther’s repeated complaints.”

Specifically identified in the lawsuit by Kanther is CBS Radio Philadelphia Senior Vice President and Market Manager Marc Rayfield, whom Kanther dubbed “one of the worst offenders” during her tenure at KYW.

In addition to KYW, Rayfield also oversees five other radio stations in the cluster, including WIP, which has been broadcasting a sports format on AM 610 for close to a quarter-century – and just this past fall, added a simulcast on 94.1 FM; the station now brands itself as “SportsRadio 94 WIP.” This is actually Rayfield’s second go-round working at WIP: in the early 1990’s, he had previously served as the station’s local sales manager when it was owned by Spectacor Broadcasting. He was hired in the same capacity by KYW in 1992, and worked his way up to station manager. Later, KYW owner CBS Radio merged with subsequent WIP owner Infinity Broadcasting, and Rayfield had assumed responsibilites for WIP.

I could go into detail about some of the graphic “locker room behavior” that is described in Kanther’s lawsuit, but I won’t. I’ll actually direct readers here. And when you read the alleged comments and actions depicted in the lawsuit, consider this quote from the same lawsuit picked up by this source:

“… Kanther once complained about the discriminatory treatment to another female employee, who in turn told Kanther that the harassment was par for the course, and that ‘that’s always how it has been here’…”

One wonders if WIP employees experienced the same “highly offensive” environment that Kanther has while at KYW. I myself am not alleging, nor confirming, that a similar workplace exists or has existed at WIP. But knowing that Rayfield manages five radio stations – actually, four, when legendary rock station WYSP flipped to a simulcast of what was then known as “Sports Radio 610” and is now known as WIP-FM, though AM 610 occasionally airs programming different from 94.1 FM at times – the immediate thought is whether or not the same behavior can be found in the work environments of all of the radio stations under Rayfield’s watch.

Not to single out WIP specifically, but when you read about the alleged tawdry goings-on at KYW, anyone familiar with Philadelphia radio may immediately ask themselves, “Is this business as usual at WIP?”

In fact, we are coming off of a year in which sports radio personalities have engaged in regrettable behavior, on and off the air. This past spring, former ESPN Radio 1000/Chicago personality Jay Mariotti, who is also seen on ESPN, was arrested in Los Angeles for assaulting his girlfriend. In August, nationally syndicated host Tony Bruno referred to Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez on Twitter as an “illegal alien pitcher” after a pitch hit a Philles player, ensuing in a benches-clearing brawl. Just this week, we witnessed another lesson in how not to use Twitter as a sports radio personality, as Pittsburgh’s Mark Madden took an unwarranted shot at all women by instructing a female listener to “get in the kitchen, have a kid, dance ’round a pole.” (While the radio station Madden works for has an alternative music format, Madden has a strong sports background.) And, of course, there was the recent fallout with Albany sports radio host Bruce Jacobs and his comments about the WNBA which invoked gay slurs, which was first reported right here on sportsrants.com.

2011 also saw another lawsuit being filed, this one specifically against a sports radio station. Back in March, Jen Royle, reporter for Baltimore’s WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan” – which is also owned by CBS Radio – hit rival sports station WNST, and its owner and main radio personality, Nestor Aparicio, with a defamation lawsuit stemming from comments Aparicio made on the air about Royle, including, among others, “that she looks like a stripper.” As you can imagine, radio station WNST, like its owner, Nestor, is nicknamed “nasty.” (Royle would drop the lawsuit right before Labor Day.)

And now, this latest lawsuit against one of the people in charge of one of the most well-known sports radio stations in the country.

Again, I’m not holding WIP or any of their personalities accountable. (Even former WIP host Mike Missanelli, who now holds down afternoon drive on rival WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic.”) Yes, the lawsuit revolves around another radio station Rayfield oversees.

But to borrow an old adage, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Name-calling. Gay-bashing. Drunk-tweeting.

These are just some of the examples of things that sports radio can do without.

With all of the ugliness that has taken place amongst the sports radio landscape in 2011, what does 2012 have in store?

Hopefully, more on X’s and O’s, and not so much, T & A.

Out Of Bounds: Sports Radio Host's Right-Wing Past Catches Up With Him

A veteran radio talk show host is in hot water for anti-gay comments made on his local program on a sports talk radio station in Albany, NY.

Bruce Jacobs, who had become the afternoon drive host on Townsquare Media-owned WTMM, known on-air as 104.5 The Team, this past September, was engaging in a discussion about women’s basketball, specifically, the WNBA league. He had referred to the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury franchises as the “Los Angeles Lesbians” and “Phoenix Dyke-ury,” respectively. (For the record, there is not even a WNBA franchise in Albany, NY; the closest franchises are located in the New York metropolitan area, the New York Liberty, and the Connecticut Sun team at Mohegan Sun in southeastern Connecticut.)

Jacobs’ anti-gay comments were first reported by sportsrants.com’s own Anthony DiMoro, via the website’s weekly “Rantin’ And Ravin'” radio program. DiMoro, along with co-host Katy Mitchel, expressed disgust with Jacobs’ choice of words, to the point that Jacobs was being compared to Howard Stern and other “shock jocks.”

Jacobs told the Albany Times-Union’s Pete Dougherty that he would issue an apology for these comments on his radio show on Wednesday. “I will not apologize by saying, if I offended someone,” he said, “I will apologize for even saying it.” Meanwhile, he admitted on the station’s Facebook page late Tuesday night, “if I felt I made a mistake, I would apologize.” And while he dubbed his WNBA barbs “dumb, sophomoric and amateurish” to the Albany Times-Union, he wrote on 104.5 The Team’s Facebook page, “I personally don’t think it was a gay slur.” Also, a Facebook page asking for Townsquare Media to fire Jacobs from WTMM quoted him as saying to a listener on his personal Facebook profile, “Actually, I didn’t say ‘dyke,’ I said, ‘Dykyury’ as in Mercury, so you didn’t hear it.”

What the casual sports radio listener may not know is that Jacobs has not only been a sports radio host. While in Phoenix, he had dabbled in conservative talk radio as the morning man on KFYI (Fox Newsradio 550). His low point was in the summer of 2008, in which Jacobs presented a diatribe against the widow of a Phoenix police officer, Nick Erfle, killed by an illegal immigrant in 2007. Upon the cop’s widow, Julie, announcing she was in support of “comprehensive” immigration law reform, Jacobs likened her stance to having “amnesty for all illegal immigrants”, adding that the next time a cop is killed, she should be blamed for it. The rant even drew the ire of Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts – who, like Jacobs, is a staunch conservative. Local police have even attempted to lead a boycott of Jacobs’ show in the wake of his comments.

Jacobs was eventually fired by KFYI in June 2009. Program director Smokey Rivers called it “a business decision” based on low ratings. Though Rivers made it a point that KFYI “is often controversial” and “controversy doesn’t scare us,” he said of Rivers’ firing: “We think we can do better.”

Bruce Jacobs resurfaced on Sporting News Radio, now known as Yahoo! Sports Radio, in 2010, before joining the local sports radio station in Albany, NY, affiliated with ESPN Radio.

At one time, Jacobs also worked for Fox Sports Radio. He even co-hosted a sports radio show in Phoenix with Mike Golic, who is now one-half of ESPN Radio and TV’s successful “Mike And Mike In The Morning.”

But maybe what Bruce Jacobs really wants to do is get back to the attacks on President Obama and anti-immigration rants that he was accustomed to on KFYI.

Maybe if 104.5 The Team decides to be a team player and dismisses Bruce Jacobs, he can have that opportunity.

We think they can do better.