View Full Version : You Can Say Coup, But You Can't Say. . .

4th and Long
03-23-2006, 05:39 PM
Ehhhh .... whoopsie.

KTRS host fired over racial slur
By Jake Wagman

ST. LOUIS - A local radio personality was kicked off the air Wednesday after using a racial slur when talking about U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Dave Lenihan, who was in his second week as a morning show host on KTRS (550 AM), was fired almost immediately after saying "coon" while describing why Rice would fit well as commissioner of the National Football League.

"She's been chancellor at Stanford. I mean she's just got the patent resume of somebody that's got some serious skill," Lenihan said, according to a recording provided by KTRS. "She loves football. She's African-American, which would kind of be a big coon. . . ."

"'A big coon?' Oh my god," Lenihan said during the morning broadcast. "I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that. OK? I didn't mean that. That was just a slip of the tongue."

The remark prompted an on-air apology 20 minutes later from the station's president, who said "there are no excuses" for what was said.

"There is no place for anything like that in this world," KTRS chief Tim Dorsey said. "There is enough hate. And we certainly are not going to fan those flames."

Dorsey said he decided to fire Lenihan after listening to the broadcast several times.

"I don't know what is in Mr. Lenihan's mind. I know what I heard," Dorsey said. "I know it was reprehensible."

A State Department spokesman declined to comment.

Rice's qualifications to lead the NFL have been fodder for talk radio since the current commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, announced that he is retiring in July.

Rice, who was actually a former provost at Stanford University, is an avid gridiron fan and follower of the Cleveland Browns. In 2001, she told Glamour magazine that running the NFL is her "dream job."

But this week, Rice said that the football position "came open at the wrong time."

Lenihan had been at KTRS a week and a half, Dorsey said, part of an attempt by the station to recast its programming since it became the new flagship station of the Cardinals. The team bought half of the station last year, a move that has led to a personnel switch at the "Big 550." The station fired almost all of its on-air staff shortly before Christmas.

Lenihan's radio resume is limited to three years at WGNU (920 AM). Before that, Lenihan says, he lived in Scotland.

Reached at his home Wednesday, Lenihan apologized again, saying he meant to use the word "coup" instead of "coon."

"I've never, ever really used that word in my life. Maybe psychologically-wise deep down perhaps, but it's not how I feel," Lenihan said. "It's not how I raised my kids. It's kind of wrecked my life to be honest."

Lenihan described himself as a Rice supporter, and said he has already written an apology to her.

"I'm a big fan. I'm a conservative talk-show host," said Lenihan "Or, was a conservative talk-show host."

This is not the first time controversy has led to the dismissal of a St. Louis broadcaster. In August, two deejays for KATZ (100.3 FM) were fired after the pair discussed how they would confront a police officer. In 1993, two disc jockeys, Steve Shannon and D.C. Chymes with then-WKBQ (106.5 FM), were fired after using a racial slur against a caller. They are back on the St. Louis airwaves.

And last month, minority workers reporting to a job site on Interstate 64 near Caseyville encountered a dead raccoon hanging by a wire around its neck.