A longtime radio host for Buffalo, New York's 97 Rock was terminated for making racist and misogynistic comments on air in which he compared toaster settings to the skin color of Black female celebrities.
During Wednesday's discussion about the innocuous ritual of making toast on the station's Morning Bull show, Rob Lederman said, "I may get into trouble for this," before he described how his toasting preferences corresponded with the "attractiveness of women that I find to be attractive."
Lederman then broke down what that meant by casually talking about the skin tones of prominent women of color, like Serena Williams and Halle Berry.
He also used a slur for a person of mixed-race.
Another host asked if Gayle King would be another possible example of a toaster setting for Lederman.
The 45-second audio clip went viral after Marcel Louis-Jacques, a Buffalo Bills beat reporter for ESPN NFL Nation, posted it on Twitter.
Warning: racist and misogynistic language.
Didn’t hear this live but internet keeps receipts. @97RockBuffalo morning hosts compared how they like their toast… https://t.co/wAcrbe5Mux— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel Louis-Jacques)1616610882.0
Louis-Jacques further explained how Lederman's comments perpetuated a stigma towards people of color.
"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 undesirab… https://t.co/1WRMiLRRPX— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel Louis-Jacques)1616618367.0
People were appalled over the conversation.
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo This mf said mulatto with confidence in 2021.— Fob (@Fob)1616611396.0
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo Not sure what’s worse...the lack of awareness and casual use of a derogatory racial categ… https://t.co/7G5qhQqx9d— Jeremy Kelley (@Jeremy Kelley)1616620805.0
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo I don’t even know what to say but sorry for any African American or any minority that faces oppression like this— brandon (@brandon)1616611504.0
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo I......have absolutely no words. Also the very casual use of the mixed race slur in there.....I'm floored.— Breland Moore (@Breland Moore)1616629899.0
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo All of them were SO comfortable with their misogynoir. Think about the type of environmen… https://t.co/mULL5TjRLx— SUJ 😷 (@SUJ 😷)1616627377.0
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo I'm revolted by this. They play it as casual and funny, but its demeaning and wrong on so… https://t.co/UgJ0MiJSBR— TonawandaProud (@TonawandaProud)1616617568.0
A spokesperson for Cumulus Media—the company that owns the station—issued a statement on Wednesday saying Lederman's comments violated the company's programming principles and he was "swiftly terminated."
The statement added "the remainder of the show's on-air talent"—referring to Rich "Bull" Gaenzler and co-host Chris Klein—were suspended for their involvement in the on-air conversation.
Gaenzler's participation resulted in his firing from other side gigs, including as an in-arena host for the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and the public address announcer for University at Buffalo football games, according to local station WGRZ.
The Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation—whose "ride for Roswell to end cancer" fundraising logo is visible at the top of the audio clip—announced they canceled their advertising with 97 Rock.
The organization issued the following statement:
"Immediately upon learning about this exchange, Roswell Park, the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and the Ride for Roswell pulled all ads and marketing from this station."
"The comments this morning conflict with our values and culture. We embrace actions that respect the dignity and equity of all people, and forcefully reject any and all forms of racism."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown's office responded with a statement that 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."
You can watch the news report, below.
After the fallout for his comments, Lederman expressed his regrets after listening to playback from the broadcast.
But social media users had a hard time accepting his apology, especially since Lederman made his comments after indicating he could get in trouble for saying them.
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo How long until they come out with a statement saying “I don’t know what I was saying at t… https://t.co/KaPcWbX7hL— Tim (@Tim)1616612752.0
"I want to sincerely apologize for hurting people with my foolish and ignorant comments yesterday," said, Lederman.
"After listening to what I said, and how it must have sounded to others, I was horrified. I 100% understand why people are justifiably angry. I made a mistake and it's hard to look myself in the mirror, but I want to acknowledge it."
"I am writing this to address those who were hurt and those who don't know me. I am also writing to say, 'Where do we go from here?' How can I and others learn from this."
"Today I reached out to the local NAACP, my friends in the clergy from the African-American community, as well as the Mayor's office, to seek their guidance and teaching."
@Marcel_LJ @97RockBuffalo The casual, comfortable nature some people share their ignorance is genuinely astounding.… https://t.co/GpmXFFrWVt— Greg Cover 1 🏈 (@Greg Cover 1 🏈)1616611827.0
@WGRZ If you work in the media shouldn’t it be slightly obvious that this wasn’t a good idea? There are only about… https://t.co/wMR5emvqRG— jason stamos wright (@jason stamos wright)1616721510.0
Lederman pledged to educate himself to heighten his awareness and understanding with the hopes this would be "the start of a learning process so we as a community can become better."
He acknowledged his comments from the broadcast "were ignorant, but not meant to be hurtful, but I know I, as well as many others, need to learn from this."
"This is a great opportunity to get communication started so that this mistake can heal—and not divide."
"Rob Lederman said he hoped to "learn from" the incident, and offered an apology to "anybody that would be hurt" by… https://t.co/jpMsiDQrqy— Parker Free 🌹 (@Parker Free 🌹)1616729904.0
He concluded his statement with:
"I will make every effort to use what I am learning as a platform to better understand and hopefully help others while helping myself."
I’m a bit nauseated by the Rob Lederman apology tour he’s getting through local media. He doesn’t get to claim igno… https://t.co/v6aaUl9hLh— 3 Tweets in a Trenchcoat (@3 Tweets in a Trenchcoat)1616771879.0
In his conversation with The Buffalo News, Lederman—who started his career as a standup comic before joining the radio station in 1991—said he never saw himself "as anything close to even thinking a racist thought," after listening to the broadcast.
"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."