Hiring a "shock jock" at a radio station always comes with a certain amount of risk. The lines of good and bad taste are usually drawn up arbitrarily, and punishment for crossing this imaginary line is usually enforced when a certain segment of listeners, advertisers, or executives are personally offended by a wince-worthy comment.
ESPN 1250's Mark Madden, stuck his tongue on the hot rail when he made an ill-timed Ted Kennedy remark. He was, at first, forced to apologize and disciplined with suspension ... and now just been let go by the WWL.
The offending remark was as follows:
"I'm very disappointed to hear that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Senator Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated."
This is, according to reports, one of the worst of many horribly inane and hurtful comments Madden has spit across the airwaves during his time at the Pittsburgh station. Of course, he was also one of the most popular morning talk show hosts in the region. So...somebody likes him.
Just like the Don Imus situation last year, it seems silly to start firing people over taste issues. Sure, both Imus' and Madden's attempts at humor were more shock-oriented than comedy oriented — but isn't that their job in the first place? And if they really wantd to fire him — why wait so long? Why make him apologize on the air, have the station manager, Mike Thompson, go on the record and say he's not going to be fired, and then, after Bristol weighs in, take it back and then fire him. Stand up guy, that Mike Thompson.
One person who's overjoyed by Madden's dismissal is the Washington Post's cranky pants sports columnist Leonard Shapiro, who had this to say about the industry in general:
Perhaps ESPN's proper but somewhat belated dismissal also will serve as a warning to some of the mean-spirited, frequently irresponsible shock-jock broadcasters who talk sports, politics or whatever in radio studios all across the country (are you listening Michael Savage?) Maybe they'll now think twice before spewing their venomous remarks.
Yeah, probably not.
Madden Removed From Air By ESPN [Post-Gazette]