Two state agencies end advertising on WEEI
Two state agencies — the Massachusetts Health Connector and the Massachusetts Lottery — have pulled advertising from sports-talk radio station WEEI following a pattern of insensitive comments from its hosts.
The Lottery, overseen by Treasurer Deb Goldberg, ended its contract with the station Tuesday after being contacted by the Globe over offensive remarks WEEI hosts have made about women, people of color, and the transgender community.
Similarly, the Connector — which runs the state’s health insurance exchange — also cut ties with the station. A Connector ad aired during the “Kirk & Callahan” morning show Tuesday, but just before noon the agency confirmed it no longer does business with the station.
“The Health Connector terminated their advertising with WEEI due to recent behavior,” Connector spokesman Jason Lefferts said in an e-mail.
The withdrawal by the agencies follows decisions by Comcast Corp. and the City of Boston Credit Union to suspend their advertising on the station in protest of an incident last Friday where midday host Christian Fauria imitated a well-known sports agent by speaking in a stereotypical Asian accent.
WEEI has suspended Fauria for five days, characterizing his behavior as an “insensitive and ill-conceived attempt at humor.” The former Patriots tight end is a co-host of the midday “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” show.
Fauria apologized to his audience on Twitter and to the sports agent Don Yee, who represents Patriots star Tom Brady and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Yee, who is of Chinese descent and was born in the United States, speaks English without an accent.
Still, those actions were not enough for advertisers to stick with the popular sports talk station, which airs Red Sox games.
The incident and others “have made it clear that the culture of the station is not reflective of our values of inclusion, acceptance and mutual respect,” Dan Waltz, president of the City of Boston Credit Union, said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to our diverse membership to spend their advertising dollars responsibly and cannot support what is, in our opinion, the hateful and divisive content that seems to have become a matter of course at WEEI.”
The credit union — one of the oldest in the state, with six branches and 25,000 members in the region — has been advertising with WEEI since 2013.
Entercom Communications, which owns WEEI, did not provide comment.
Fauria’s five-day suspension came two weeks after the suspension of another WEEI personality, Alex Reimer.
The fill-in host was suspended indefinitely after using a derogatory phrase to describe Brady’s 5-year-old daughter. That incident, which occurred before the Super Bowl, caused Brady to cut short his regular weekly appearance on the station.
Brady has said he is reassessing his relationship with the station.