Tony Massarotti’s controversial comments from Friday’s show led to a suspension without pay for the Boston radio host.
Massarotti, a co-host on the “Felger and Mazz” show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, found himself facing criticism after commenting on two Black men standing behind co-host Michael Felger, who was working remotely from a hotel in New Orleans.
“I want to know now who the two guys behind you are, that’s what I want to know,” Massarotti, 55, said. “Because if I were you… 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.”
Felger then quickly took a phone call from a listener.
According to the Boston Globe, Felger was in the business center of the hotel he was staying at after having WiFi issues in his room. He told the two men behind him that he would only be using the business center briefly.
Felger opened Tuesday’s show by announcing that his co-host had been suspended without pay for the rest of this week and his colleagues would undergo sensitivity training.
“Tony, if you were listening [Monday], he made a heartfelt apology about comments that he made on the show on Friday, which were insensitive and hurtful,” Felger said, via the Globe. “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.”
Felger, 53, went on to offer his own thoughts on the subject that the Globe transcribed.
“We all feel really bad about this, starting with the fact that it was said in the first place,” Felger 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 had apologized on Monday, saying in part that the comments were an “inside joke” after Felger had his car stolen in New Orleans last year. The radio partners have been a staple of Boston sports radio since 2009. Jim Murray is also featured on the program.
“Late in the show on Friday, I made some comments that angered and upset some people, and rightfully so,” Massarotti said on Monday’s show. “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 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 would feel the same way and you have a right to be upset.”