A Buffalo, New York, radio host was fired after he compared Black women’s skin tones to pieces of toast. “Morning Bull” radio host Rob Lederman was dismissed and his co-hosts Rich Gaenzler and Chris Klein, were suspended after they were heard on the air assessing Black women according to skin color. Cumulus Media, the owner of 97 Rock, released a statement Wednesday denouncing the hosts’ actions and announcing their disciplinary actions.
“Cumulus Media operates from a clearly-defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Rob Lederman’s comments made on ‘The Morning Bull Show’ are in direct violation of those principles,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to WIVB. “We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show’s on-air talent. We apologize, and deeply regret the incident.”
The episode is no longer available, but EPSN reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques posted a 45-second audio clip of the conversation on Twitter.
“I may get into trouble for this,” Lederman began before denoting a scale of attractiveness for black women that corresponded with toaster levels.
“I haven’t to the attractiveness of women that I tend to find to be attractive,” he said. “I will never go to a Serena Williams level … but I’m very comfortable with a Halle Berry level.”
“I need a little bit of mulatto still coming through.”
Klein asked, “Is Gayle King not your realm?” Lederman responded, “Gayle King is not even on my toaster level.”
Louis-Jacques clarified the troublesome nature of the remarks to Twitter, saying, “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,” he wrote.
Halle Berry caught wind of the audio clip and tweeted, “Disgusting. It’s ridiculous this type of nonsense is still being broadcasted across airwaves. ALL Black women are beautiful and worthy, Rob Lederman. GTFOH.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also condemned the comments, releasing a statement on Facebook. “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,” he said.
Various companies pulled their ads from the show following the remarks, including advertiser Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.
“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,” a statement read. “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.”
Pegula Sports & Entertainment also dropped Gaenzler, who was a host for the Buffalo Sabres NHL team and Buffalo Bandits National Lacrosse League team.
“All organizations across the Pegula Sports & Entertainment umbrella strongly condemn racism in all forms,” Pegula Sports & Entertainment said in a statement. “We are deeply disturbed by the comments made this morning by a co-host on Rich Gaenzler’s radio show. They were unacceptable, inappropriate, and there is no place for them in our community. The Sabres and Bandits therefore have made the decision to terminate him from his duties as our in-arena host.”
Lederman said he was “horrified” by his words when listening to the clip afterward.
“I could easily see how someone could be offended by that,” he told The Buffalo News. “I get that.”
“It sounds terrible, and it is terrible.”