Radio Show Hosts Suspended Over Birthday Hoax
Long Island radio show hosts Steve Harper and Leeana Karlson of the Steve & Leeana Show have been suspended by radio station K-98.3 over a radio hoax concerning a homophobic mother’s response to her son’s invitation to a fictitious seven-year-old’s birthday party.
A message from K-98.3 station management posted to their Facebook page reads:
K-98.3 Suspends Morning Show
[Farmingdale, NY - February 16, 2014] - Wednesday, February 12, 2014, the K-98.3 (WKJY) Morning Show with Steve and Leeana aired a story about a girl’s birthday party and one parent’s objection to the same-sex situation of that girl’s parents.
After this aired, it was brought to K-98.3 management’s attention that all the details of the story were completely fabricated independently by Steve and Leeana. This was done without the knowledge of K-98.3 management or ownership. The story, presented as a real event, was, in fact, fictitious. An internal investigation was quickly launched which has resulted in the immediate suspension of Steve Harper and Leeana Karlson from the K-98.3 Morning Show.
In an effort to move forward, K-98.3 has been speaking with local community organizations, such as the Long Island GLBT Services Network, to ensure the fabricated story does not result in further damages with respect to the GLBT community.
"We applaud the quick and decisive actions from the management team at K-98.3 FM. While we don’t agree with how the information was presented by Steve and Leeana, we do recognize the impact and importance of fostering discussions of this important and sensitive social issue. I look forward to continuing this discussion on the K-98.3 Morning Show with Steve and Leeana upon their return," said David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer, Long Island GLBT Services Network.
"K-98.3 has been serving Long Island for over 25 years and we respect the important role we play in the lives of our listeners. We deeply value our relationship with our listeners and are committed to providing them with the highest level of service because they deserve the very best. I sincerely apologize for the actions of Steve and Leeana, their insensitivity to the hurt it may have caused anyone, and for the breach of trust these actions have caused", said Dave Widmer, GM/Market Manager, Connoisseur Media Long Island.
Reactions to news of the suspension on Facebook were mixed with the majority of fans siding with the popular morning drive time radio personalities.
"Everyone of us has made a mistake! I think the intent to raise awareness was there-it wasn’t malicious-or thought through! They’ve been suspended-hopefully without pay! I have enjoyed their show for years & had the pleasure of accompanying Leanna to the Acquaduct Casino last year-we had laughs & fun. It is going to be difficult to believe some if their stories now but it is their job to entertain us & raise our awareness to issues in this world. Cut them some slack."
"It was all over the internet. This was not funny at all."
"People don’t see outside of the box! Look at all the crap that was talked when you thought it was real, stuff that actually does happen, they were trying to make a point! Still get over yourself, get your nose out of the air and drop off your high horse!"
"Before they return to the air they need to do volunteer work with the GLBTQ community. While the intention of sparking discussion was good their actions were harmful. Maybe listening and helping others might give them the humility to be better people instead of "celebrities"."
The length of the suspension was not made available to the public.