Atlanta’s 790 The Zone: Steve Gleason Prank Costs Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro & Chris Dimino Jobs

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

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ncellini2 WQXI-AM 790 The Zone, the Atlanta Falcons Radio Partner, has fired Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino, the hosts and crew of the popular Mayhem In The AM show and after a morning mock interview with former Saints Safety Steve Gleason so upset listeners and sports media that the collective outrage went viral.

Mr. Gleason is a retired NFL New Orleans Saints safety who was diagnosed with ALS disease in 2011, the same year he became a father for the first time. Since that announcement, Gleason’s condition has worsened to the point where he can’t talk and has to eat with a straw.

For reasons that Mayhem In The AM‘s main host Nick Cellini called a “stupid attempt at humor” on his Twitter account, he and Steak Shapiro worked out a format where Shapiro asked questions while Cellini made a voice that was supposed to sound like Steve Gleason talking through a computer voice synthesizer. Chris Dimino was in the studio, but wasn’t one of the people who actually did the interview.

For obvious reasons, this vlogger did not attempt to repost the audio from the show – it’s just too upsetting.

The action compounds the hurt over the fact that Steve Gleason didn’t ask for his fate and is struggling not only to cope with his situation, but to maintain a positive attitude through it all. Consider, this man was once a professional athlete in top condition, used to moving around and getting paid a great salary for playing a kids game. Then he retires, and all of the life he was used to not just because of his athletics, but because he was in good health is being slowly taken away from him, unless medicine can provide a solution.

You just plain don’t make fun of people who go through that. I though we, as a nation, were long past the days when school kids were allowed to bully those who’s conditions were gotten through no fault of their own. Now, we see high school kids holding special ceremonies and proms for those who’s physical gifts are less than there own.

That’s why Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King picked Gleason to write a guest post, and this paragraph sums up what he’s experiencing:

I am well into the disease progression. I am unable to walk, talk or eat. In some ways, this stage of the process is less frustrating than previous stages. I often feel normal. I forget that it’s weird to eat through a tube or be in a wheelchair. Still, I can’t deny that it’s a struggle. In the words of Peter King, “This blows.”

I sit somewhere on the razor’s edge. I am so happy to hear my son say, I love you dadu. So happy I want to explode. But I also have fleeting, but agonizing moments of frustration as I watch my friends throw him giggling in the air. I just want so badly to hug him like I used to hug the people I love so much, to brush his hair or hold his hand.

(And at this point, please visit TeamGleason.org and make a donation.)

And yet, here comes Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro, and Chris Dimino to remind us that, for some, there are no bounds in media, no matter how horrible the action.

This was horrible.

Nick Cellini’s Last Twitter Tweets

Here are Mr. Nick Cellini’s last Twitter Tweets expressing his apology, from most recent to the first, where he realized they screwed up. He changed his Twitter account profile to read “short order cook”:

Steak Shapiro on Twitter:

From Chris Dimino on Twitter:

But all that was too late. Earlier, here’s a sample of the social media firestorm that erupted and costs Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro & Chris Dimino their jobs. You have to understand, for those who don’t live in Atlanta, these guys were at the top of Atlanta Sports Radio and, I thought, part of a dying breed of radio personalities that injected some ‘shock jock’ attitude into their broadcasts. They reached the end.

This was posted on the 790 The Zone Sports Facebook Page:

Earlier today, inappropriate comments were made during the “Mayhem In The AM” program that aired on 790 The Zone. This Atlanta-based radio station is owned by Lincoln Financial Media, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company. The statement below reflects actions taken by the station, following what transpired today:

“We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on “Mayhem In The AM” on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS.”

Dan Cusimano My mom died from ALS, and it is a f*ck*ng terrible way to die. Your mind is fine, but your body disintegrates. To mock somebody with ALS is just a scummy, scummy, scummy thing to do.
2 hours ago · Like · 6

Scott Rogers Disappointed in Dimino over this, I thought he had more class. Cellini is certifiable so its not a surprise. Good riddance to Steak.
3 hours ago · Like

Ron Weiss Do the Right Thing ” FIRE THOSE INVOLVED”
7 hours ago · Like · 7

Joseph Wenzler Termination is too much, a week-long suspension would have sufficed. They did a jerky thing, but….if we are honest, we all do from time to time. Let the punishment fit the crime.
7 hours ago · Like · 8

Beth Mills As a hospice social worker who has seen the devastation caused by ALS, I am deeply disturbed that radio personalities would find anything comical about someone else’s pain. Maybe firing them will cause them to think before they open their mouths.
7 hours ago · Like · 13

ivon Lyons it is fitting their “crime” they are fired…. now… send them down here in New Orleans and let them apologize to Steve Gleason on the 50 yard line in front of us.
7 hours ago · Like · 12

Mayhem In The AM Show Pages Gone

In the wake of the, well, let’s call it disaster in judgement, the Mayhem In The AM website show pages are gone. That includes the staff, recap, and main show page, with the exception of a page that contains the 790 The Zone apology you saw.

What Will 790 The Zone Do?

According to a local Atlanta broadcaster I happened to catch, I think it was on Channel Five here, Rick Mack, the senior vice president and general manager of 790 The Zone in Atlanta, told her that they didn’t know what they were going to do for Tuesday morning at that time. Mr. Mack said that they did know they were not going to bring up the incident.

But the other question is, with Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino all gone, who will be the “they” that fills in?

Stay tuned.

About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham | Zennie Abraham or "Zennie62" is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.

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