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Tony Massarotti suspended by 98.5 The Sports Hub for racially insensitive comment

Tony Massarotti suspended by 98.5 The Sports Hub for racially insensitive comment
Tony Massarotti suspended by 98.5 The Sports Hub for racially insensitive comment 00:18

BOSTON -- 98.5 The Sports Hub host Tony Massarotti has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the week for his racially insensitive comment made on the air on Friday.

Co-host Michael Felger announced at the start of Tuesday's "Felger & Massarotti" show that Masarotti will not be on the show for the rest of the current week. Additionally, all on-air personalities from Beasley Broadcast Group in Boston will be taking sensitivity training.

Massarotti made the comments on Friday, when Felger was broadcasting the show from a public business center in a hotel in New Orleans. Two men sat behind Felger, at least one of whom was Black, when Massarotti said, "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 said that he was referencing Felger's car being stolen in New Orleans in November, in an effort to "poke fun" at his co-host. On Monday, Massarotti was on the air, and he apologized for the comment.

"Late in the show on Friday, I made some comments that angered and upset some people, and rightfully so," Massarotti said. "So, 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." 

Massarotti added: "I got a little silly and stupid at the end of the show, I was trying to be a wise-ass like I often am, and it just came out wrong. And I wish I could give you a better answer than that, because we're in a business where we should be careful about what we say and how we say it. And, I wasn't."

The Beasley Broadcast Group, which owns The Sports Hub, said in a statement read by Felger that Massarotti was suspended "because Beasley media strives to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, and these comments went against its core values." Beasley added that employees are undergoing sensitivity training "to redouble our efforts to create a culture of understanding."

After reading the statement, Felger spoke on the matter.

"I'll just add on a personal level, quickly, that we all feel really bad about this, starting with the fact that it was said in the first place. Minorities in this country do have to put up with a lot of crap, and comments like that just make it harder for them, and we apologize for that," Felger said. "I feel bad that I personally didn't do more to correct it in the moment. I had the chance -- and I'm just not talking about dropping it, either -- I had a chance there in a split-second moment to do something and I guess I froze. So I feel bad about that. And I feel bad for Mazz because anyone who has been listening to us for 13 years and knows anything about him through his 30 years in this job in various forms in this town, that's not what he is, that's not what he's about. That's what made it so shocking. But it's not what he represents or stands for, and anyone who knows him or has listened to our show knows it. That's not what we represent or the company represents, and certainly not what Mazz represents. So we all feel bad about the whole thing. But that is the deal. 

A former writer for the Boston Herald and The Boston Globe, Massarotti has co-hosted the Felger & Massarotti show since the station first hit the airwaves in August of 2009. The Felger & Massarotti show has been No. 1 in the ratings among men 25-54 in the Boston market for every three-month ratings period since 2012.

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