Wednesday, March 22, 2006

       St. Louis Radio Host Fired For "Coon" Remark
By Dino Costa
March 22, 2006
I didn't hear the remark - I've never heard the radio host previously - but in reading his comments after being fired, I believe his uttering of the word "coon" in relation to Condi Rice, was indeed an accident.
The reason why I'll give St. Louis talk radio host Dave Lenihan the benefit of the doubt - is because I cannot fathom anyone being as stupid as one would have to be, to do what he did on the air today in an intentional manner.
Lenihan didn't refer to Condi Rice as a coon - he said that her resume and her ethnicity as a black women would be a "big coon", as far as Rice possibly succeeding NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue - a position which Rice has previously expressed an interest in.
Lenihan quickly caught himself, realized he had made a major mistake, and quickly corrected himself, telling his audience that he was very sorry and that he meant to use the word "coup" instead.
In this sickening politically incorrect world run amok that we live in, Lenihan was fired by the station, KTRS, the brand new flagship home for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The apology would do no good - and Lenihan's two week run at the station was over. This guy was dead meat no matter what kind of an apology he made. He could have agreed to a lifetime worth of sensitivity training, he was still gonna be on the unemployment line no matter what.
Yes there are underlying circumstances that led to Dave Lenihan's exit from KTRS - chief among them would be the fact that the Cardinals baseball team owns the station, and going into their first year on the station after many years of being on KMOX in St. Louis, the last thing the Cardinals were going to do was to allow this situation to end up any other way than what it did.
It is unfortunate that the talk show host in question could not have gotten a reprisal of sorts - - - that would have allowed him to sincerely apologize and explain the slip of the tongue he made.
"Sorry" in this day and age is a word that is accepted only under certain instances that favor certain individuals. Many folks aren't able to utilize the word with the same license that others can - and do.
Unfortunately some will now label this man a racist and say that nobody should ever hire him again. That however in my opinion is narrow minded thinking by people who are convinced that this guy was looking to slander Condi Rice with a word that I truly don't believe he intended to say.
I won't indulge you at this time with comparative words that I have heard used by other talk show personnel - words that are as insensitive as the one that led to Mr.Lenihan losing his job - by talk show hosts who are still gainfully employed.
The following story is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Talk show host fired after on-air racial slur

A radio personality at 550 KTRS was fired on the spot this morning after using the word “coon” on the air in a
conversation about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Dave Lenihan was dismissed after what he called an inadvertent slip of the tongue. Within 20 minutes, station CEO Tim Dorsey apologized on the air to listeners and announced that Lenihan, who had been with the station for less than two weeks, had been let go.

“I don’t know what was in Mr. Lenihan’s mind,” Dorsey said in an interview. “I know what I heard. I know it was reprehensible.”

Lenihan’s comment was made during a discussion about Rice’s credentials to become commissioner of the National Football League, a topic that has been fodder for sports talk radio since the current commissioner announced he would retire later this year.

Lenihan was listing what assets Rice could bring to the league, including her tenure as a top academic officer at Stanford University and the fact that she is African-American.

“She’s just got a patent resume, of somebody that’s got such serious skill,” Linehan said on the air. “She loves football, she’s African-American, which would kind of be a big coon, a big coon – oh my God, I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that, OK? I didn’t mean that. That was just a slip of the tongue.” Lenihan later said he meant to use the word "coup."

Reached at home, Lenihan said he was still trying to figure out what happened, and was drafting a letter of apology to Rice.

"I was trying to say 'quite a coup' but it came out 'coon,"' he said. "I caught myself and apologized. It wasn't anything I was meaning to say. I never use that word.

"I think she's a fantastic woman. I was even talking about if she ran for president, I'd work on her campaign."

He said his biggest fear is that his choice of words tarnished the image of St. Louis and the baseball team, which is a part-owner of the station.

"It was my dream job," he said. "Ratings were going well. It kind of stinks."

Lenihan, who had previously been with radio station WGNU, was part of the recently reshuffled lineup at KTRS since half of the station was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals. He had a morning talk show.

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