Fired radio hosts apologize to Steve Gleason

June 19, 2013 (ATLANTA)

The morning hosts at an Atlanta sports radio station have since apologized for mocking former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease.

Satellite radio host Jay Thomas said he doesn't think the bit wasn't funny, but he doesn't think three hosts of "Mayhem in the AM" should have been fired.

"I'm in New Orleans and people go, 'That was a dumb thing to say,' but no one's yelling for them to get fired. So, it's like, you know, the management reacts -- it's a terrible thing, a stupid thing, but yeah, you make mistakes," Thomas said.

Because of Gleason's degenerative disease, he can no longer speak without the aid of an electronic voice synthesizer. Hosts Steak Shapiro, Chris Dimino, and Nick Cellini aired an imitation of that synthesizer, telling knock-knock jokes with punchlines such as "smother me. Do me a favor."

The show was broadcast on 790 The Zone Monday morning. In a statement, General Manager Rick Mack said the station regrets comments made about Gleason, 36, and his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

During the segment, two of the on-air personalities took a call from a third host who pretended to be Gleason by using a voice that sounded automated - mimicking another famous ALS patient, Stephen Hawking.

The host pretending to be Gleason told a series of jokes and eventually asked the two others to do him a favor by smothering him.

All three took to Twitter Monday evening to apologize to fans and others who criticized the segment. Listeners and critics turned to the station's Facebook page to call for the hosts' termination.

Gleason played for the Saints between 2000 and 2006. Team Gleason, an organization named after the former NFL player, is geared toward finding a cure for ALS, raising awareness of the disease and connecting patients to technology, equipment and services tailored to fit their needs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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