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super genius is off the air

Well, it appears that Mark Madden, ratings bonanza that he is on ESPN radio, was finally removed from the air. Apparently permanently, according to the P-G.

I have listened to Madden for years, mostly during the Steeler season but most recently during the Pens playoff run. At times, I have found myself mildly offended at the way he insults people. Yet I still listened. Why? Because I wanted to hear the latest Steeler or Penguin story; Mark is a huge Pens fan, so you could count on him for the latest scoop and just good info in general. And Mark did not pander to the Steelers (except for Big Ben) the way most of Pittsburgh does, which I found somewhat refreshing, although some of his comments were pretty much attacks, and that I am no fan of.

In fairness to Madden, some of his callers said some rather dumb things. Once you listen to the show, you should know what you are getting yourself into. In fact, the station would play some sort of warning about how Mark insults callers. And there were times I had to turn the station; I just could not take the crap he was spewing. But that is just it; you can turn the station, although with radio, you cannot exactly read a program description first; you might end up tuning to a station at the exact moment when someone says something you really don't want your 4 year old (or even you) to hear. Certainly that happened in my car, but not just with Mark; radio personalities say all kinds of things that I had to explain to Jordan; you can listen to any conservative or liberal talk show and hear some sort of insulting rant against someone on most days. And some of the songs that stations play today are nothing I want my kid to hear, which I know makes me sound like I am 80.

I do think Madden went a little too far with his comments about Edward Kennedy ("I'm very disappointed to hear Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Sen. Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated.") for which he was suspended right after. I thought that was the right move, even if he was joking. But I am not sure where I stand on his dismissal. Perhaps since this was Mark's second (at least) time he was put on notice, ESPN felt they had to do something. Or maybe it was Smizik's column in the P-G the other day that really got the removal ball rolling. Would Mark have been canned if not for those things? I kind of doubt it, not with his popularity.

So where you draw the line for freedom of speech? I am not sure, but I do wish him well and I will miss his show, though not his verbal tirades. I am sure there is a market for him somewhere. And I would not be surprised if he came back.

Comments

-e said…
A. Freedom of speech is already dead. It died some time ago.
2. Mark Madden is generally an a$$, but that comment was freaking hilarious and totally appropriate. The Kennedy family has done nearly nothing for this country, relative to what they could have done - its time we stop acting like they are some kind of gods. Besides, Denis Leary said pretty much the same thing already back in '92, and nobody took away his radio show.
III. Being controversial is what talk radio is all about. ESPN Radio will not find anyone who can get the ratings Mark was getting, at least not in the short term. It was a dumb business decision, too.
cc said…
If you are on double secret probation and you wish to keep your job, you must watch what you say. That being said, if you don't like what he is saying or how he says it, turn the station. Most people were OK with him as you could tell by the ratings. I don't agree with the firing as I didn't agree with Imus getting fired. If you have a problem with what you are hearing, don't listen. I am not sure that freedom of speech is dead, nowadays it only applies to certain people in certain situations. It is not all encompassing as it was meant to be.
ashley said…
If you think freedom of speech is dead, try living in China or somewhere else where the *government* actually oversees what can and cannot be said, in the media or otherwise.

The First Amendment does not guarantee our right to keep a job when we say or do something that our employer believes reflects poorly on the organization. As far as I know, Congress has passed no laws "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." And I'm not very familiar with this situation, but it doesn't sound like our government had anything to do with this guy getting canned.

It concerns me when we interpret a company's actions the same way we interpret our government's responsibilities. Companies aren't established to serve and protect us. They're established to make money. When an employee's actions threaten a company's profitability, I'm not surprised at all when he or she ends up jobless.

Looking forward to seeing you this afternoon! :)
cc said…
The FCC is a government entity who definitely plays a big part in deciding who stays on the air with the threat of fines, thereby having a say in the freedom of speech. Remember when Howard Stern was fined millions of dollars because of what he said on air? The government is beginning to creep up on our freedoms, telling us where we can smoke, what kind of foods we can eat and what they can contain, what our children can drink in fraternity houses and what we can listen to. The government may not have directly played a part in the firing; Madden knew the consequences. The government is definitely overstepping its boundaries when it comes to what comes over the airwaves.

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