The radio host who was fired for doing his best Don Imus impression by using racist, anti-Black language on the air has all of a sudden become quite contrite in his current state of unemployment.
Rob Lederman was terminated from Rock 97 in Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday night, just hours after offering his listeners his unsolicited comparison of Black women’s skin tones to the settings on toasters that determine how dark the bread becomes.
Lederman told the Buffalo News on Thursday that he was “horrified” at what he said and understood how people could be offended.
“I get that,” he said, adding, “It sounds terrible, and it is terrible.”
Absent from his comments was an apparent apology.
Lederman has become famous for all the wrong reasons after an ESPN reporter who covers the NFL’s Buffalo Bills tweeted about the on-air exchange between Lederman and co-hosts Rich “Bull” Gaenzler and Chris Klein, who were disciplined for their roles. Marcel Louis-Jacques said he didn’t hear it live, but, he added, the “internet keeps receipts” while tweeting audio from the unfortunate moment in radio history.
Lederman seems to acknowledge that the thoughts he was about to share are controversial — “I may get into trouble for this” — before using the racist metaphor to address his preferred skin tones on Black women he says he finds attractive. Laughter can be heard in the background as Lederman continues with an example: “I will never go to a Serena Williams-level but … I’m very comfortable with a Halle Berry level.”
He added: “I need a little bit of mulatto coming through.”
When someone randomly asks if Gayle King fits that criteria, Lederman is resolute in his answer: “Gayle King is not even on my toaster level.”
When some tweeted at Louis-Jacques for calling out Lederman, he had an explanation at the ready.
“There’s already an unfortunate and undeserved stigma attached to dark skin — so for Rob to take something undesirable like burnt toast and compare it to the skin color of any person is reprehensible and feeds into that stigma,” Louis-Jacques accurately summed up.
To say Lederman’s comments were tone-deaf is an understatement. During this historic time of purported widespread racial reckoning — not to mention, in a city that is more than 36% Black — there has been heightened awareness surrounding inflammatory language that could even remotely be construed as racist. There may have even been training at the radio station advising against such candor. Still, Lederman went ahead and said them.
Lederman’s co-host Gaenzler did not escape unscathed. The Buffalo News reported that he lost two other likely lucrative employment opportunities as a result of his involvement in Lederman’s racist antics.
The episode harkened back to when shock-jock Don Imus gleefully referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hos” and “jigaboos” while on the air in 2007. Imus was fired but later returned to a new radio station, where he promptly made another borderline racist remark.
Lederman’s future has yet to be determined, but since history typically repeats itself, it’s likely only a matter of time before — like Imus — we find him back on the air espousing more racist language.