The fired radio hosts involved in a cruel Atlanta's 790 The Zone Mayhem in the Morning segment on Monday morning were axed from their jobs on Monday night. Now one of them, Steve Shapiro, has come forward to tell CNN that he would have been offended himself -- and why he went ahead with the piece anyway.
As everyone in New Orleans and Atlanta already knows, on Monday morning Steve Shapiro, Nick Cellini, and Chris Dimino for WQXI-AM mocked former Saints player Steve Gleason in an agonizing three-minute long spoof involving a fake robot voice purporting to belong to the former Saint. Gleason suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which has robbed of his ability to speak in his natural voice.
"I would have been offended," Shapiro admitted to CNN's Greg Botelho. You walk a fine line trying to be somewhat on the edge. We blew it."
The New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons rivalry goes back many years. On one side, we have a small, poor city with a sometimes-uneven football team. On the other, we have a large, wealthy city that considers its team one of the best in the NFL.
Yet the Saints are the ones who hold a Superbowl ring.
And Gleason's 2006 blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons is one of the symbols of New Orleans recovery and triumph.
On Monday morning, according to Shapiro's account, the Atlanta radio hosts were tossing around ideas when they saw Gleason's "Monday Morning Quarterback" piece in Sports Illustrated. In that touching piece trying to raise awareness for ALS, Gleason describes how he uses technology to speak using eye movements to create sounds.
For whatever reason, the now fired radio hosts thought it would be funny to do the segment spoofing the robot voice.
"The pressure is to try to do a good radio show, and that wasn't a good moment," Shapiro confessed to CNN. "It was a horrible moment."
Gleason has since accepted an apology from all three fired radio hosts.
The radio station has the right to broadcast Falcons games. However, the Atlanta Falcons didn't know about the so-called humor segment, and they sure weren't happy about it.
They quickly issued a statement distancing themselves from the fired Atlanta radio hosts.
[Team Gleason photo via Facebook]