Radio Host Fired and 2 Co-Hosts Suspended Following Racist On-Air Exchange
A radio show host for the Buffalo, New York-based 97 Rock was fired, and two others suspended, after they took part in a racist on-air exchange the station's parent company said was in "violation" of its principles.
A spokesperson for Cumulus Media confirmed to PEOPLE in a statement that The Morning Bull Show host Rob Lederman had been "swiftly terminated" in light of comments he made comparing the skin tones of famous Black women to numbered toaster settings.
"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 statement read. "We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show's on-air talent. We apologize, and deeply regret the incident."
In a 45-second audio clip shared to Twitter by EPSN reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques, Lederman says, "I may get into trouble for this," before going on to mention stars like Serena Williams, Halle Berry and Gayle King.
Lederman's co-hosts Rich "Bull" Gaenzler and Chris Klein, both of whom did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment, were suspended following the conversation, The Buffalo News reported.
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Lederman, who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, told the outlet that he was "horrified" when he listened back to a recording of the broadcast.
"I could easily see how someone could be offended by that. I get that," Lederman said. "It sounds terrible, and it is terrible... Now, can I take back those words? No. If you listen to them, were they meant to be hurtful? Absolutely not."
Lederman added that he hoped to "learn from" the incident, and offered an apology to "anybody that would be hurt" by his comments.
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On Wednesday, the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation announced that they had canceled their advertising with 97 Rock.
"Immediately upon learning about this exchange... Roswell Park, the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and the Ride for Roswell pulled all ads and marketing from this station. The comments this morning conflict with our values and culture," said the statement, which was posted to Facebook. "We embrace actions that respect the dignity and equity of all people, and forcefully reject any and all forms of racism."
Pegula Sports & Entertainment, meanwhile, fired Gaenzler from his role as the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits' arena host.
"All organizations across the Pegula Sports & Entertainment umbrella strongly condemn racism in all forms. We are deeply disturbed by the comments made this morning by a co-host on Rich Gaenzler's radio show," the organization said in a statement. "They were unacceptable, inappropriate, and there is no place for them in our community. The Sabres and Bandits therefore have made the decision to terminate him from his duties as our in-arena host."
Gaenzler was also relieved of his duties as public address announcer at the University at Buffalo.
"The University at Buffalo Division of Athletics is committed to sustaining a culture of diversity and inclusion and strongly denounces racism in all forms," the school said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "Rich Gaenzler is not currently under contract with UB Athletics. We will move forward with selection of another public address announcer for UB football games next season."