A radio DJ in Ohio has been suspended after he making fun of a woman with Downs syndrome who accidentally called into the show.
According to WPTV, 30-year-old Kellie Baker misdialed the The Mo Show on Q92 near Canton, Ohio, last week and she was put through on air. Her family says the conversation that ensued afterward was unacceptable.
Here’s part of the transcript from the call:
K: Can I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart please?
M: You what now?
K: Kelly Ann Burkhart.
M: You what?
K: OK I’m Kellie Christine Baker. I talk to Kel–
M: You what?
K: Ann Burkhart.
M: Eh, Uh… I don’t want to come across– obviously you have some sort of a speech impediment.
K: Uh… no, this my voice.
K: This my voice.
M: It’s your voice?
M: Well, it’s the– I’m just saying– Don’t get angry. Obviously I—
K: I’m not angry. I’m not angry, I’m not.
K: I want to talk to my friend.
M: Are you from this country?
K: Uh, I live Strausburg.
M: You what?
K: I live Strausburg.
M: You live in Strausburg?
M: Okay. And, and, and speak SLOWLY. What would you like?
K: I want to talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.
The conversation continued even further. When DJ Mo ended the call, he said to his listeners she sounded “like the teacher from The Peanuts cartoon.” DJ Mo went on for several more minutes analyzing Baker’s speech, replaying back some of their conversation.
Listen to the call (via New York Daily News):
WPTV reported a listener claiming to have a medical background calling in later to say she thought the female calling DJ Mo had Downs syndrome.
The DJ apologized on Facebook (his page seems to have been disabled) and on air after the incident, saying he thought it was a prank call and he “played along with it.”
“I would like to apologize to the woman that called, her family, her friends and everyone else that has been outraged by what transpired last Monday. I am truly sorry. …I take full responsibly.”
DJ Mo said the family asked for a face-to-face apology, which he said he was more than willing to offer at their convenience.
Listen to his apology here.
He was later suspended by the station, which issued the following apology to the family:
Q92 and The Mo Show would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm its support of efforts to raise awareness regarding the challenges faced by people with developmental disabilities. Specifically, the station wishes to sincerely apologize again for any actions or comments that could be construed as making light of the challenges faced by persons that are developmentally disabled or casting those persons in any humorous light. The station’s policy is to treat our callers and listeners with the utmost respect, professionalism, and sensitivity.
Q92 and Ms. Baker’s family have been in communication since the call aired on January 21 with the goal of raising awareness regarding the challenges faced by people with developmental disabilities. When contacted by the family on January 22, the station immediately apologized and reiterates its policy of treating all callers and listeners with the utmost respect and professionalism. The station has engaged with Ms. Baker’s family in an effort to work in conjunction with Natalie Lupi, superintendent of the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Bill Green, superintendent of the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities to discuss opportunities to collaborate in raising awareness towards people who are developmentally disabled. Q92 is committed to continuing to work with Ms. Baker’s family and these important community organizations to promote these goals.
WPTV said they do not wish DJ Mo to be fired but that the incident serve to raise awareness about the syndrome.
Watch this WOIO report (via WTSP) about the situation and some speculation that station seems to have a history of bullying disabled people:
(H/T: Daily Mail)