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Bad joke

A tasteless radio bit leads to termination of sports talk hosts at 790 The Zone

Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

No one, if you’re knocking on the door of the Mayhem in the AM at 790 The Zone. Last night the hosts of the radio show—Nick Cellini, Chris Dimino, and Steve “Steak” Shapiro—were fired after a daylong PR firestorm sparked by a Monday-morning skit that featured a phony call-in and tasteless knock-knock jokes from someone posing as Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints player now suffering from ALS.

That very morning, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had opened his wildly popular "Monday Morning QB" column to Gleason, who wrote about his struggles with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The terminal illness inhibits the brain’s ability to communicate with muscles, which atrophy and die. The former special teams standout writes that he typed the entire story using special eye-recognition software. “I can crank out about twenty words per minute,” he writes. “For 4,500, that’s almost four hours to finish this column.”

It took just over two minutes for the radio show to parody Gleason with a faux-computerized voice making knock-knock jokes that make light of the footballer’s plight. A New Orleans radio show, The Sports Hangover, WMTI 106.1, found and posted the audio for the morally outraged and morbidly curious.

Today, all that is left are the apologies and disappointments, from 790 The Zone, the Atlanta Falcons, and the hosts themselves, including Dimino who posted on Facebook: “I hope I get a chance to prove this is not who I want to be. It was and is who "I am" today though. That much is not lost on me. I have spent so long not trying to put other people in a bad place because of me. Today I failed miserably.”