The radio hosts insensitive comments didn't go unnoticed and neither did the other co-hosts' complaceny in not calling him out on it.
We are living through a period where racial injustice, sexism, and hate crimes are running rampant, and those of us concerned for unity are trying hard to make it through another day without losing it. Civilians as well as those who have the power to influence need to pick their words carefully to ensure the divisiness doesn't deepen. And this is when a radio host, whose primary job is to talk to thousands of people, decides to make a blatantly statement revealing his inherent racism. He went on air and compared black women celebrities to burnt toast! It comes as no surprise that his statements caused outrage in the community.
Rob Lederman has been a long-time host for 97 Rock’s Morning Bull show in Buffalo, New York. According to The Buffalo News, in a 45-second audio clip posted on Twitter by Marcel Louis-Jacques, a Buffalo Bills (sports team) beat reporter for ESPN NFL Nation, the host went on to make blunt racist and sexist statement, which initially began as a talk about making a toast.
That's when Lederman said, "I may get into trouble for this," before explaining, "I have them (toaster settings) to the attractiveness of women that I find to be attractive. I will never go to a Serena Williams level, but I’m very comfortable with a Halle Berry level." As if that weren't bad enough, he added that he required a "little bit of mulatta," which is a now-dated word meant to describe mixed-race women, "coming through." When asked by co-host Chris Klein about what he thought of CBS News anchor Gayle King, who is black, Lederman responded, "Gayle King is not even on my toaster level."
Didn’t hear this live but internet keeps receipts. @97RockBuffalo morning hosts compared how they like their toast to black women’s skin tone. So just in case y’all missed it too, take a listen pic.twitter.com/6nVolu5a23— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) March 24, 2021
Cumulus Media, which owns the station, swiftly took action and fired the radio jockey. They also released a statement saying the company “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. We apologize, and deeply regret the incident." Lederman wasn't the only one who faced punishment though. Klein and a second co-host, Rich Gaenzler, were also suspended and the incident resulted in some advertisers boycotting them and the radio station.
In another tweet by Louis-Jacques, he said, "There’s already an unfortunate and undeserved stigma attached to dark skin — so for Rob to take something undesirable like burnt toast and compare it to the skin color of any person is reprehensible and feeds into that stigma."
There’s already an unfortunate and undeserved stigma attached to dark skin — so for Rob to take something undesirable like burnt toast and compare it to the skin color of any person is reprehensible and feeds into that stigma https://t.co/TJKe20XtE2— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) March 24, 2021
The sports reporter was only one among many who voiced their displeasure over the conversation. Former WKBW-TV investigative reporter Madison Carter said on Twitter, “This made my stomach physically turn," while the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists wrote on the same platform, "We are extremely disappointed and disgusted. Station leadership @97RockBuffalo can expect a follow up from our board."
Even Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown's office released a statement regarding the issue that kept gaining traction. It read, "The racist commentary made on 'The Morning Bull' show on 97 Rock is outrageous and intolerable. There is no place in our society for these statements or beliefs. I strongly condemn what these individuals said on the radio this morning."
Actress Halle Berry, who was one of the women mentioned in the conversation, also took to Twitter to voice her anger. She wrote, "Disgusting. It’s ridiculous this type of nonsense is still being broadcasted across airwaves. ALL Black women are beautiful and worthy, Rob Lederman. GTFOH (Get The F*** Out of Here)."
Disgusting. It’s ridiculous this type of nonsense is still being broadcasted across airwaves. ALL Black women are beautiful and worthy, Rob Lederman. GTFOH. https://t.co/9qMrLysjy2— Halle Berry (@halleberry) March 26, 2021
After the broadcaster, comic, and club owner was condemned by many, he issued an apology. Speaking to The Buffalo News, Lederman said that he was “horrified” when he heard what he had said in a recording. “I could easily see how someone could be offended by that. I get that. It sounds terrible, and it is terrible. I never saw myself as anything close to even thinking a racist thought. ‘It’s just not who I am. So when I heard that, and heard how it sounded, I was like, 'Oh, my God, that sounds terrible.' Now, can I take back those words? No. If you listen to them, were they meant to be hurtful? Absolutely not."
He also took to Twitter to share a longer statement, according to HuffPost. In it, he stated that he wants to “learn from this,” and apologized “to those who were hurt” by what he said.
After his firing, he spoke to 2 On Your Side's Scott Levin, and when asked what he would want to say to people who heard the comments but not the live show, he responded, "I wish you knew me. And I wish that you were not judging me by any ignorant comments that I made in an attempt to be funny. That failed miserably," according to WGRZ.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Kevin Winter (R) Al Bello