Nearly 24 hours after someone at WWL Radio used the company's official Twitter account Tuesday to direct a gay slur at a fellow employee, executives at the station had said little publicly beyond a statement that they're looking into the matter.
We are aware of a tweet that went out today from the WWL account. The content of the tweet is categorically offensive and abhorrent to the station. We are actively investigating this incident and will take swift and appropriate action once we determine how this occurred.— WWL Radio (@WWLAMFM) September 11, 2019
The tweet, which called evening sports host Seth Dunlap a "fag," was deleted within minutes but not before many people screen-captured it. The story went national overnight on sports websites.
Dunlap is gay, which many listeners just learned about last week when he wrote an extensive Facebook post about the challenges he's experienced in sports media as a gay man.
The station hasn't issued any other statement on its webpage or social media accounts. Emails to WWL-AM's operations and program director, Diane Newman, as well as to WWL's parent company, Entercom, have not been returned.
WWL-TV reported that station management was told they weren't allowed to speak until Entercom, which is based in Pennsylvania, investigates the matter.
The investigation is complicated by the fact that Entercom has been attacked by hackers this week in a "ransomware" attack, with staffers unable to access emails and other electronic files, as reported by the industry website Radio Insight — though there's no indication that the tweet is related to the ransomware matter.
Sources at the station have said the investigation also is complicated by the fact that several people have access to the station's Twitter account.
Kevin Cassidy, WWL Radio's senior vice president, sent a memo to staff today in support of Dunlap. Cassidy said he was "personally disgusted" by the tweet and said the company was "taking all possible steps" to identify who sent it. "This does not represent us nor will it," Cassidy concluded.
WWL-AM, the powerhouse talk station that's the radio home of the New Orleans Saints and the LSU Tigers, tweeted an offensive remark toward one…
WWL is the official radio partner of the New Orleans Saints, and many New Orleans sports journalists have spoken out on social media supporting Dunlap and condemning WWL.
Sharief Ishaq of WDSU-TV called it "Sad. Embarrassing. Pathetic," while Nick Underhill of the sports website The Athletic tweeted, "My wife used to tell me not to go on this radio station because she always felt undertones in their political coverage. Looks like she was right."
Amie Just, who covers the New Orleans Saints for The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, wrote, "Seth Dunlap is a pro’s pro and is handling this a lot better than I would be. I’d be going scorched earth right now. How the hell does this happen?"
The company issued a statement. Refer to that. If you are seeking comment from me, won't happen. https://t.co/EWYDclYCId— Kristian Garic (@KristianGaric) September 11, 2019
WWL-AM's afternoon host, Scoot Paisant — a friend of Dunlap's — spent two hours on the air Wednesday afternoon discussing the issue with listeners in between discussions of the commemoration of 9/11.
He spoke out in support of Dunlap, but also in support of WWL itself. Paisant seemed to parse the situation carefully, neither saying nor denying that the tweet came from a station employee. "Our Twitter account was compromised," he repeated several times.
"We have a history of not being afraid to hire openly gay people," Paisant said, referencing the late WWL talk show host David Tyree. "I don't know who wrote this. But with technology, we should be able to find out who it is.
"But I think the real bigger question here is: Who are we? Why would anybody see that and go to social media, Facebook, and attack WWL as if we really did that? ... To attack us over this is absurd. We have done nothing but embrace the right thing to do."
Dunlap did his regular radio show last night just hours after the tweet, making only oblique reference to the controversy at the top of the show, when he spoke about the Saints season opener Monday night against the Texans and how electric it was to be in the Superdome with fellow Saints fans.
“White, black, Latino, men, women, straight, gay — nobody cared,” he said. "If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to be part of something like that, it can be a truly religious experience, and that togetherness is what makes sports so special to me."
He announced Wednesday he was taking a day off from "The Last Lap With Seth Dunlap" to "decompress."
Being yourself has never been more important. The hate that has infected our society threatens to tear us apart from the inside out. I’m overwhelmed, but I’m also very proud of who I am and the life I live. I’ll be taking tonight off from the show to reflect and decompress.— Seth Dunlap (@sethdunlap) September 11, 2019
All of the comments and responses tonight mean a lot. Thank you for the kind words, funny memes, and amazingly awful pun attempts. ✌️❤️— Seth Dunlap (@sethdunlap) September 11, 2019