3 radio hosts fired for mocking athlete's disease

by: Tom Regan Updated:


ATLANTA - The three hosts of the 790 The Zone morning show, "Mayhem in the AM", have been sacked for a skit mocking a former pro football player with a terminal illness.

ALS, the terminal neurodegenerative disease, is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Hosts Nick Cellini, Stephen "Steak" Shapiro, and Chris Dimino staged an on-air mock interview Monday with former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed, and cannot speak as a result of ALS. In the skit, one of the show's hosts speaks in a computerized voice, posing as Gleason and asks to be "smothered" as a favor.

The ALS Association of Georgia told Channel 2's Tom Regan the skit was insensitive and an insult to ALS patients and their families.

"Certainly if anyone there had a personal connection to a family member or friend, they would understand ALS is no laughing matter," said ALS spokesperson Liz Nordmark.

An ALS board member who lost her husband to the disease said people need to understand the impact it has on the afflicted and their loved ones.

'It was a horrible thing to think he was going to be trapped in this body and that he couldn't do anything, but he was fully functional in his mind. He knew exactly what was happening to him," said ALS Georgia board member Shirely Lucia.

The manager of 790 The Zone issued an apology for what he described as "offensive" remarks on the show. He also said all three members of the "Mayhem in the AM" show had been suspended and then terminated from their positions.

The three former show hosts issued apologies on Facebook, Twitter and other social media and have pledged to work for a charity established by the former player called TEAM Gleason to battle ALS and increase global awareness.

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