Follow TV Tropes


Role Ending Misdemeanor / Radio

Go To

  • After Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left offensive messages on the answer phone of Andrew "Manuel" Sachs as part of a show on BBC Radio 2, the BBC faced so much pressure to sack them that Brand resigned from the show on his own. Ross later terminated his contract with the BBC amid speculation that he was about to have it ended for him, due to the Sachs incident and other controversies including complaints about a homophobic joke on his radio show.
    • Brand's guest-host episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks was also pushed back because of the scandal.
    • As far as Brand is concerned though, all public outcries about his behaviour have totally backfired. The complaints from the incident made up almost all the material for his next stand-up tour (which was eventually released on DVD too) and he now had enough to work with to write a second autobiography. He also became a household name in the US principally because of his controversial behaviour hosting the MTV Music Awards Ceremony (where he made fun of The Jonas Brothers' purity rings and called then-president George W. Bush a "retarded cowboy fella" among other things). Brand thrives on controversy like some sort of celebrity vampire.
    • Advertisement:
    • Ross was also pulled from his British Comedy Awards hosting gig for that year (although he has returned since then). In a mild case of irony, his replacement was Angus Deayton.
  • From 1941-1948 C. E. M. Joad was a popular contributor to The BBC Radio show The Brains Trust, until he was arrested for fare evasion on the railway. The scandal ruined his career and may have been a contributory factor in his death five years later.
  • Australian Radio host Kyle Sandilands lost his job as a judge on Australian Idol after a lie detector stunt on his radio show revealed that a teenage girl got raped, and he responded by asking her if she had any other sexual experience. This revelation was not dumped, and hence was broadcast to Sydney listeners. Media Watch (ABC) Transcript
  • talkSPORT sacked its talk show host, Jon Gaunt, after an interview with a councillor. Gaunt wasn't keen on plans to exclude smokers from being foster parents and described the councillor as a 'Nazi' and an 'ignorant pig'. The interview was live.
  • Advertisement:
  • St. Louis talk radio host Dave Lenihan made a slip of the tongue when discussing the rumor that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was interested in the position of NFL commissioner. Meaning to say that she would be a "huge boon" to the League, he slipped and instead called her a "huge coon." He immediately apologized profusely for the racial epithet, but when his show returned from commercial, it was the station's general manager speaking, revealing that Lenihan had been fired during the break.
  • The hosts of Australia's Hot 30 on 2Day FM, Mel Grieg and Mike Christian thought it was funny to imitate the Queen and Prince Charles and try to prank the London hospital where Kate Middleton was staying to recover from vicious morning sickness after her pregnancy was announced. When the nurse who unknowingly transferred the call to allow the prank to go forward received unwanted attention, she committed suicide and after a tone-deaf reaction where the station continued to promote the prank even after the nurse's death, public reaction and the anger of advertisers who immediately pulled their advertising from the station forced their hand. Both hosts were suspended, the station went automated and hostless for a couple weeks, and after a couple months, Mel had not returned, while Mike had gone from being on one of the most high-profile shows in Australia to going back to his old job in Melbourne. Security procedures involving phone calls to hospitals went up, and radio show prank calls in Australia were made verboten.
  • Advertisement:
  • Steve Shapiro, Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino were the hosts of a morning show on 790 WQXI in Atlanta, GA. After former NFL star Steve Gleason wrote an article on living with ALS, they decided a skit making fun of Gleason and "joking" about his life expectancy would be perfect for their show (Atlanta's Falcons are bitter division rivals with the New Orleans Saints, the team Gleason played with). They were fired by the end of the day, and quickly lost their weekly television show on the local CBS affiliate. The incident also rendered WQXI's Sports Talk format moribund - ranking behind two other sports stations that broadcast on FM in some capacity. WQXI first went to all-syndicated programming within a year, dumped the format altogether in favor of a "burner" simulcast of Star 94.9 the year after, then was sold to a Korean broadcaster in 2016.
  • Don Imus was fired from his sports radio show in 2007 after referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos".
  • The Shock Jock duo Opie & Anthony managed to defy this trope for a good twenty years; whenever their antics got them fired from a radio station, they always managed to bounce back at another station eager to pick them up and score their massive ratings.
    • First, in 1998 they were fired from WAAF in Boston for an April Fools' Day prank in which they announced that Mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident in Florida while in the company of a prostitute, complete with quotes from a fake police officer and reporter. They later admitted that this was a deliberate attempt to get out of the Boston market; at the time they staged the prank, they were already in secret negotiations with WNEW in New York City to move there, and the prank was a form of Suicide by Cop designed to get WAAF to terminate their contract.
    • Then, on August 22, 2002, they were fired from WNEW, along with the station's general manager and program director, while their nationally syndicated show was pulled from the air when the FCC fined Infinity Broadcasting $27,500 for every station that aired the show (for a total of $357,500). The cause of this was their third annual "Sex For Sam" contest (so named because it was sponsored by the Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams beer) in which contestants had sex in public places for prizes. One couple decided to have sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral during Mass, and were arrested. The show was off the air for two years after that, as they were still under contract with Infinity, who didn't want them jumping ship to Clear Channel. The incident also led to the end of WNEW's talk radio format, as ratings tanked without Opie & Anthony, and it switched to Top 40 stunt in January 2003 (starting a series of format changes - WNEW is now Hot AC "New 102.7").
    • In 2004, when their contract with Infinity expired, they joined Sirius XM, where, unbound by FCC restrictions, they could be as blue and raunchy as they wanted. Their luck finally ran out, however, in 2014, when Anthony Cumia (one half of the duo) was fired after going on a racist Twitter tirade following an altercation with a black woman, in which he referred to black people as "savage, violent animal fucks" and refused to apologize for it. The show continued with Opie and regular second banana Jim Norton.
    • Almost three years to the day after Anthony's firing Opie himself was fired from Sirius XM after recording a coworker using the bathroom. The channel was renamed Faction Talk, Norton stayed on with former O&A intern Sam Roberts, and other radio personalities such as Jason Ellis joined the channel.
  • Michael Savage had his own show on MSNBC for almost four months before he was dismissed from NBC News after controversial remarks regarding people with AIDS in response to a crank caller making fun of Savage's teeth.
  • Jian Ghomeshi, host of the popular Canadian radio show Q, was fired from CBC Radio after he was accused of beating and raping several women. Ghomeshi initially claimed the acts were consensual BDSM and that he was being fired due to kink-phobia, then tried to sue the CBC, then quietly settled when it became clear that few people believed him. He then turned himself in to Toronto Police and was criminally prosecuted. As Q had just gotten a weekly TV show syndicated throughout the United States a couple weeks before with past Ghomeshi interviews, it likely became a Show Ending Misdemeanor as the syndicator quickly ended the 'this guy does great interviews, let's show the video' format with his interviews for a much less-watched 'week in review' version with the current staff that makes it just another late-night syndicated music show to those unfamiliar with Q. Even though Ghomeshi would be cleared of the charges two years later with overwhelming evidence that most of the key witnesses testimony was significantly inaccurate and/or intentionally dishonest, the publicity fallout from the scandal, combined with massive uproar of his acquittal, mean it's safe to say he won't be coming back to the public square anytime soon.
  • On January 17, 2005, just weeks after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, radio personality Miss Jones of WQHT-FM (Hot 97) New York introduced, and producer Rick Del Gado sung, on air, a parody of "We Are the World", titled "USA for Indonesia", as an attempted Take That! to former Hot 97 hosts Star & Buc Wild leaving for rival station WWPR-FM to boost ratings. The song was sung in a deliberately tasteless fashion, riddled with ethnic slurs derogatory toward Asian-Americans, mocked the victims of the devastating tsunami and generally made Howard Stern look like a gentleman. The public outrage was almost immediate, resulting in Del Gado getting fired from the station, while Miss Jones and several other DJs were suspended. Several sponsors also pulled their advertising from WQHT.
    • It probably didn't help that another DJ on the station, Miss Info, had objected to playing the song when Jones began to introduce it, and she walked out of the station in protest whilst being insulted by her fellow DJs (Miss Info is Asian-American herself, and the insults directed at her included further Asian slurs on-air). Todd Lynn, one of those DJs, took it to a whole new level by bragging about "shooting Asians". Lynn was fired for that remark along with Del Gado. Miss Info was also removed from the air after walking out of the show, and some reports suggested she was fired too, but intense public support of her and criticism of the station for her absence resulted in her return four months later.
  • Radio DJ Danny Baker went through this twice with BBC Radio 5:
    • The first time happened in 1997, while he'd been a sports pundit on the station for an ill-judged emotional outburst on air. His friend and drinking buddy, Paul Gascoigne, had just been dropped from the England side for the 1998 World Cup, and Baker proceeded to launch an abusive rant against the side's manager and the World Cup's selectors. The BBC wasted little time in doing to Baker what the England manager had done to Gascoigne: dropped an unreliable, unpredictable, and heavy-drinking talent as a liability.
    • Then in May 2019, Baker, having been rehired by Radio 5 eleven years before, shot himself in the foot again when he tweeted an image of a chimpanzee leaving a hospital and made reference in its caption to the just-born baby of the Duke and (biracial) Duchess of Sussex. He apologized in a subsequent tweet, acknowledging it as a "stupid unthinking gag", but by then the BBC had already made up their minds and fired him.
  • Playboy model Dani Mathers formerly had a segment on the radio show Heidi and Frank called Put Your Man Where Your Mouth Is before it was ended in the middle of July 2016 after Mathers, on her Snapchat account, body shamed a random woman in an LA Fitness shower room without the woman's knowledge. She is also banned for life from all LA Fitness facilities as a result.
  • Katie Hopkins is one of the most controversial and hated right-wing columnists and broadcasters in the UK (similar to Ann Coulter), but her career as a host on LBC had, for the most part, gone unaffected by all the bad publicity. That all changed in late May of 2017, when Hopkins sparked anger over her use of the phrase "final solution" while tweeting about the terrorist attacks in Manchester that had occurred earlier that week; due to the phrase's association with The Holocaust it was implied that she was calling for an ethnic cleansing of the UK's Muslim population. She later altered the tweet to read "true solution", but by then her remarks had been referred to the authorities on grounds of inciting hatred, and she was asked to leave by the network a few days later.
    • A few months after this, her contract as a columnist for the Mail Onlinenote  was allowed to run out. This was generally attributed to her costing the paper two separate libel cases in the last 12 months, smearing a Muslim family who'd had visa troubles during a London stopover on the way to America as being "detained as extremists", and accusing cooking blogger Jack Monroe of vandalising a war memorial, having confused her with journalist Laurie Penny who wrote in support of the act, and refusing to apologise for it.
  • In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, NPR senior vice president of news and editorial director Michael Oreskes resigned on November 1, 2017, at the behest of chief executive Jarl Mohn after reports of sexual harassment against Oreskes were published.
  • Garrison Keillor, the original host and creator of A Prairie Home Companion, was dismissed by Minnesota Public Radio on November 29, 2017, after allegations of sexual harassment towards a co-worker were reported to the station. While Keillor had already left the show, reruns of A Prairie Home Companion were also pulled and the show was renamed to Live From Here. It wasn't until MPR and Keillor reached a settlement in 2018 that the reruns were once again made public.
  • Bob Wall was one of Chicago's top morning radio personality in the 1980's, his ratings on urban powerhouse WGCI-FM second to only WGN's iconic Wally Phillips. However, his radio career in the Windy City came to a crashing halt after he and his wife were convicted of molesting their underage babysitter in 1987. Wall would go in and out of smaller broadcast markets before committing suicide in 2002.
  • Former The Brady Bunch actress Susan Olsen was fired from hosting the Two Chicks Talkin' Politics radio show on internet station LA Talk Radio in December 2016 after she went on a homophobic rant about one of the show's guests.
  • Tom Ashbrook was removed from hosting the NPR news show On Point in December 2017 after it was alleged he had verbally abused female colleagues and had created a toxic work environment. He was ultimately fired from the show a few months later.
  • Craig Carton, the co-host of the popular New York sports talk radio program Boomer and Carton, was suspended and then forced to resign from his role at WFAN-AM in September 2017; He had been arrested and charged for securities and wire fraud resulting from a concert ticket Ponzi scheme he had been running, and was convicted a year later. In 2019, Carton was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
  • In March 2018, radio giant Entercom launched 97.3 FM, "The Machine", in San Diego, attempting to build a lineup of talk shows to support the newly-acquired broadcast rights to MLB's San Diego Padres, and enlisting Bay Area shock jock Kevin Klein to headline their morning show. Klein introduced himself to the new media market by tweeting out an ad encouraging listeners to "JUMP a new morning show", over a photo of the Coronado Bridge— the second-deadliest suicide bridge in the United States. San Diegans were not amused, and Klein continued not to endear himself to his potential future listeners by mocking the backlash on social media. The following day, the Padres issued a terse press release condemning the station and promising to "reevaluate their relationship"; Klein apologized shortly afterwards, but it was too little, too late, and his show was cancelled the day before it was to debut. The failure of what was to be the station's flagship show led to a total rebrand as "The Fan", with a more dedicated focus on sports talk. Klein quietly joined KROQ in Los Angeles as an afternoon co-host eight months later.
  • The infamous "Hold your Wee for a Wii" contest hosted by Sacramento radio station KDND (107.9 The End) and their morning show in 2007 saw all three of the morning hosts fired after one contestant died from water intoxication while trying to win a Wii. The incident caused massive financial trouble for the radio station, and heavily damaged its reputation as well. In fact, in 2016, the FCC even called for an investigation of the 107.9 FM license. When owners Entercom Broadcasting announced a merger with CBS Radio in February 2017, Entercom decided to cut their losses, move "The End" Top 40 format to a different frequency (106.5 FM, previously a Hot AC station), and turn in the 107.9 FM license in order to expedite the merger.
  • In March 2009, Atlanta radio station Star 94 fired their entire morning show, "The Morning Mess", only a year after they had hired the team out of Indianapolis. They had held a giveaway for Hannah Montana concert tickets for kids from gold-star families note . But by the time the concert came around, the girl who won had been caught with cigarettes in her room, and her mother decided to punish her by giving the tickets back. "The Morning Mess" responded by publicly calling the mother out on the show for her decision, which meant they were questioning a recent military widow's parenting decision. They were fired later that day, with the official reasoning being that the show skewed too young for the time block.
  • Mexican radio DJ Enrique Rojas, famous for hosting a The Beatles-themed show for over 30 years, personally interviewing Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (among other non-Beatle artists), and being the programmer of Mexico's most popular English classic hits station, was fired in November 2011 after allegations of him harassing underaged women on social media were uncovered. While the allegations were not proven, Rojas has mostly remained out of the public eye since then, and the station where he worked now considers him an Unperson.
  • Memphis radio DJ Rick Dees recorded the novelty song "Disco Duck" in 1976 and it quickly became a hit across the country....everywhere that is, except for Memphis. Dees' own radio station, WMPS, wouldn't play the song, fearing it violated the FCC's conflict of interest rules. No other local station would play the song because it was recorded by a DJ at a rival station. In October 1976, Dees complained on air that he was about to have the #1 song in America, but he wasn't allowed to play it on his own show. The station manager proceeded to fire Dees on the spot for his comments. Five days later, "Disco Duck" indeed reached #1 on the Hot 100. After a waiting out a short non-compete clause, Dees was hired by his former station's biggest rival WHBQ, who let him play "Disco Duck" as much as he wanted.
  • KNUS-AM, a conservative talk radio station in Denver, Colorado, fired two of their hosts for controversies within weeks of each other in 2019.
    • First, talk show host Craig Silverman was fired from his post in November 2019 for making comments critical towards President Donald Trump, in particular his alliance with Roy Cohn, unaware that the station owners wanted him to appease their listening base and have him glorify the President instead. The firing was condemned by Colorado State Representative Dylan Roberts, who called it a "sad day for Colorado and the First Amendment."
    • KNUS had to fire another host the following month when Chuck Bonniwell said on-air that he "wish[ed] for a nice school shooting to interrupt" the coverage of Trump's impeachment. Given the Denver area's history of mass shootings (the Columbine massacre and the Aurora theater shooting being the most infamous), the backlash was immediate, with even Bonniwell's co-host and wife Julie Hayden calling him out on it. The Chuck & Julie Show was canceled just two days later.
    • While all this was going on KNUS producer Kirk Widlund was let go after allegations that he had ties to Neo-Nazi groups surfaced online.
  • Subverted and played straight in a rather odd case of this where something that happened on one radio station ended up costing someone on another their job. In 2016, Philadelphia sports radio station 97.5 The Fanatic had a scandal where a caller named "Dwayne From Swedesboro" ended up being a character created by several producers on the station to troll afternoon drive host Mike Missanelli. Dwayne was presented as an African-American man, but he was voiced by someone who isn't African-American. Josh Innes, a host on rival station 94.1 WYSP, reacted to this by tweeting out images of people in blackface and labeling them "Typical 97.5 Callers". Innes had been on thin ice prior for several other incidents, and this instance was the last straw for WYSP, who promptly fired him. The producers involved in creating and performing the fake caller on 97.5 were suspended, but ended up keeping their jobs.
  • A Little Rock, Arkansas radio personality found himself fired after he was accused of stealing money from someone at a restaurant.
  • ESPN 850, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio had former host Sabrina Parr out of a job after she accused (then) recently drafted Cleveland Browns' player Jabrill Peppers of being high at the time of the NFL draft. She then tried to compare Peppers to Josh Gordon, who has been troubled with substance abuse during his NFL career.
  • Kimberly and Beck was a radio show based out of Rochester, NY that managed to get the boot from two separate radio stations for bigoted social commentary:
    • They had started out as the morning hosts at adult rock station WBZA 98.9 (The Buzz). This was until May 2014, when the duo reacted to Rochester's expansion of medical benefits for transgender employees by going on a string of transphobic remarks. Entercom wasted no time in terminating their contract.
    • A few months later, Kimberly and Beck were brought over to help relaunch classic rock station 95.1 WAIO (Radio 95.1), where they held down the afternoon shift. This was the case until early in June 2020, when they made racist comments on-air in the wake of the nationwide demonstrations stemming from the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman. I Heart Media fired them the morning after the bit aired.
  • Alan Freed, the famed disc jockey who played a major role in bringing Rock & Roll to national attention, was the most high-profile figure to be blacklisted from radio in 1959 after Congressional investigations into radio payola revealed that he had taken money from record labels to play specific records and songs — including, quite damningly, some that he himself had writing credits on and received separate royalties for. Dick Clark almost suffered the same fate, but he cooperated with authorities and sold his share in a record company, saving his career. More broadly, the payola scandals also played a role (together with the career and personal troubles of some of its biggest stars, some of which are themselves detailed on the Music page) in the decline of rock & roll in the early '60s, as it earned an unfair reputation as overly commercial pop music driven more by record industry hype than an organic fanbase; only with The British Invasion did it make a comeback.
  • WTAM 1100, another radio station in Cleveland, Ohio fired news anchor Kyle Cornell when he referred to Sen. Kamala Harris during an August 2020 broadcast as the "first colored vice presidential candidate" for the 2020 presidential election.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: