For everyone who thinks Philadelphia sports radio can be crude and profane, take a look at what’s been happening in Boston.
WEEI 93.7, which is owned by Bala Cynwyd-based Entercom (also the parent company of 94.1 WIP), has experienced an exodus of advertisers in recent weeks after one host insulted Tom Brady’s 5-year-old daughter, and another mocked his Asian agent in a racist manner.
According to Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung, at least five advertisers — including Comcast, Citizens Bank and two state-run agencies — have pulled commercials and sponsorships off the controversial Boston sports talk station in the past few days.
The most recent problems for WEEI started prior to the Super Bowl, when Brady cut short his weekly Monday morning appearance over derogatory comments fill-in host Alex Reimer made on-air about the quarterback’s daughter, describing a scene in a Brady Facebook documentary in which she appeared. Both the Patriots and the Red Sox have relationships with the station, akin to the ties the Eagles and Phillies have locally with WIP.
Following the Super Bowl, former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria, who co-hosts WEEI’s midday show, pushed things at the station further. Fauria mocked Brady’s agent, Don Yee, by imitating him using a stereotypical Asian accent. The show then played audio of Yee, who was born in the United States, in order to show that he doesn’t have an accent. “It’s so much more fun that way,” Fauria said.
“These kinds of statements do not reflect Citizens’ culture of respect and inclusion,” Citizens Bank said in a statement. “We have communicated that to WEEI management and have suspended our advertising on the station.”
WEEI responded by punishing both hosts. Reimer was suspended indefinitely for what the station dubbed “mean-spirited commentary,” while Fauria was suspended for five days for his “insensitive and ill-conceived attempt at humor.”
Fauria later apologized to Yee and his listeners on Twitter. “I have also reached out to Don directly to personally apologize. I have been disciplined by WEEI management and I fully support their decision,” he wrote.
Earlier today I made a horrible attempt at humor. In a segment during the show, I impersonated agent Don Yee in an insensitive and regrettable way. I want to publicly apologize to Don and anyone in the audience who heard it.
— christian fauria (@christianfauria) February 10, 2018
This type of controversial content is nothing new for Boston sports radio. In November, 98.5 The Sports Hub (which is also owned by Entercom) host Michael Felger called former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay an “idiot” and a “moron” following Halladay’s death in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. And back in 2014, popular WEEI morning host Kirk Minihane was suspended for five days after unleashing a misogynistic rant about Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews.
In a statement Tuesday, WEEI said the station would be hosting an all-day mandatory sensitivity training and is reevaluating its policies and and procedures “in an effort to ensure that our programming is never intolerant or harmful to our listeners or our city.”
As part of the mandatory training, WEEI is suspending all live programming on its station on Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., a move that is almost unheard of for a sports radio station in a major media market like Boston. Entercom did not respond to requests for comment.
Statement from WEEI: pic.twitter.com/cLykP0gtFB
— WEEI (@WEEI) February 14, 2018
“Just calling out their toxic behavior wasn’t enough,” Margeaux Sippell, who along with Leung has been tracking WEEI’s advertiser’s exodus for the Boston Globe, wrote on Twitter. “It seems the only way to effect change in an organization like this is take away their advertisers.”
Just calling out their toxic behavior wasn't enough…it seems the only way to effect change in an organization like this is take away their advertisers, i.e. their money https://t.co/kIuXWCpLFn
— Margeaux Sippell (@MargeauxSippell) February 14, 2018