April 16, 2021

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Buffalo radio host Rob Lederman fired for comparing Black women’s skin tone to burnt toast

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“The Morning Bull Show” host Rob Lederman has been fired following a racist exchange where he compared his preferred toaster settings to Black women’s skin tones on air.

On Thursday, broadcasting company Cumulus Media confirmed to the Associated Press that Lederman was “swiftly terminated” from the Buffalo, New York-based 97 Rock radio station for violating the company’s “programming principles.”  

“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,” the statement read. “We swiftly terminated him and suspended the remainder of the show’s on-air talent. We apologize, and deeply regret the incident.”

Lederman’s co-hosts Chris Klein and Rich “Bull” Gaenzler were suspended, local news station WKBW reports, although it’s not clear how long they will remain off air.

USA TODAY reached out to Cumulus Media for comment. 

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Wednesday’s controversial broadcast first made waves after EPSN reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques shared a 40-second excerpt on Twitter “just in case y’all missed it,” he said. 

In the clip, Lederman compared his toaster settings to Serena Williams, Halle Berry and Gayle King’s skin tones, despite acknowledging that he “may get into trouble for this.”

“We have (our toaster settings)… at the attractiveness of women that I find to be attractive, so I will never go to a Serena Williams level,” Lederman said as his co-hosts laughed. “But I am very comfortable at a Halle Berry level. I need a little bit of mulatto still coming through… Gayle King is not even on my toaster level.”

Louis-Jacques said Lederman’s racially charged remarks feed into colorism and the “undeserved stigma attached to dark skin.” He added, “For Rob to take something undesirable like burnt toast and compare it to the skin color of any person is reprehensible.” 

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In a statement posted to Twitter Thursday, Lederman said he was “horrified” listening back to his broadcast and offered an apology to “those who were hurt.”

“I want to sincerely apologize for hurting people with my foolish and ignorant comments yesterday,” he said. “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 apologize from the deepest depths of who I am.”

Lederman said he also reached out to “the NAACAP, my friends in the clergy from the African-American community, as well as the Mayor’s office, to seek their guidance and teaching.” He added, “Please know my comments were ignorant, but not meant to be hurtful.”

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On Wednesday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown condemned the “racist commentary,” labeling it “outrageous and intolerable.”

“There is no place in our society for these statements or beliefs,” Brown tweeted Wednesday evening. “I strongly condemn what these individuals said on the radio this morning.”

Both Lederman and the 97 Rock radio station faced continued fallout following the broadcast.

Buffalo’s Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and the Ride for Roswell all pulled advertising from the station. 

Pegula Sports & Entertainment also terminated Lederman from his role as the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits’ arena host.

“All organizations across the Pegula Sports & Entertainment umbrella strongly condemn racism in all forms. We are deeply disturbed by the comments made this morning by a co-host on Rich Gaenzler’s radio show,” the organization said in a statement posted to Twitter Wednesday. “They were unacceptable, inappropriate, and there is no place for them in our community.”

Contributing: The Associated Press 

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