Beasley Media has suspended 98.5 The Sports Hub host Tony Massarotti for the rest of the week without pay, days after he made a comment with racist overtones during Friday’s program.
Massarotti, cohost of the afternoon drive “Felger and Mazz Show,” apologized for the comment during Monday’s show, calling his words “hurtful” and “insensitive.”
On Tuesday, he was absent from the program, which also includes cohost Michael Felger and third voice Jim Murray. Felger opened the show by reading a statement from Beasley Media, the Sports Hub’s parent company.
“Tony, if you were listening yesterday, he made a heartfelt apology about comments that he made on the show on Friday, which were insensitive and hurtful,” said Felger. “Because Beasley Media strives to create a diverse and inclusive workplace [and] these comments went against these core values, the company has decided to suspend Tony for the rest of the week without pay.
“In addition, all of our on-air personalities at Beasley Boston will be taking sensitivity training to redouble our efforts to create a culture of understanding.”
The incident occurred late in Friday’s show. While Massarotti and Murray were in the Sports Hub’s Waltham studio, Felger was cohosting remotely from a hotel in New Orleans. He was participating in the show while people milled behind him in the hotel’s business center, where he set up because the WiFi wasn’t working in his room. At one point, two Black people were behind him, and Felger assured them that he would be off the air in a couple of minutes and out of the business center.
That exchange prompted Massarotti to say, “I want to know now who the two guys behind you are, that’s what I want to know. Because if I were you …”
Then he added, “They can’t hear us, right? OK, so I would be careful if I were you, because the last time you were around a couple of guys like that, they stole your car.”
Massarotti was referencing a previous New Orleans trip by Felger, when he left his keys in a car and it was stolen.
After reading the Beasley statement, Felger added a personal thought.
“We all feel really bad about this, starting with the fact that it was said in the first place,” he said. “Minorities in this country do have to put up with a lot of crap, and comments like that just make it harder for them. We apologize for that.
“I feel bad that I personally didn’t do more to correct it in the moment. I had the chance and … I had a chance in just a split-second moment to do something and I guess I froze. So I feel bad about that. I feel bad for Mazz, because anyone who has been listening to us for 13 years [and knows] anything about him and in his jobs in various forms in this town knows that’s not what he is and not what he’s about.
“That’s what made it so shocking. But that’s not what he represents or stands for, and anyone who knows him or listens to our show knows it’s not what I represent or what the company represents, and certainly not what Mazz represents. So we all feel bad about the whole thing. But that is the deal.”
Massarotti apologized early in Monday’s show.
“Late in the show on Friday, I made some comments that angered and upset some people, and rightfully so,” he said. “I wish I could take them back. I can’t. They were insensitive. They were hurtful. And frankly, they hurt the cause for those of us who believe in racial and social equality and all of those things. And I do. I’m on that side of the line, which is what made this thing so difficult in so many different ways.
“So I owe everyone an apology. It’s not who I am. It’s not who we are. I can tell you that until I’m blue in the face; those of you who know me will believe it. Those of you who don’t, won’t. And you probably shouldn’t. If I saw and heard what you did, I’d feel the same way. And you have a right to be upset. The only thing I can really do is apologize for it.”
He explained that the comment was meant as a shot at Felger.
“I meant, if anyone cares, to poke fun at you, Mike. It didn’t come off that way,” he said. “It came off as something far broader and ignorant. And I’m regretful of that.”