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 of its own hosts this afternoon, then deleted it — but not before some of its 33,200 followers captured a screenshot:
Seth Dunlap, host of the station's weeknight sports show "The Last Lap With Seth Dunlap," is gay — a fact that many of his listeners first discovered last week when he penned a personal essay about New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Brees' relationship to the anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family.
"This is tough," Dunlap wrote, "but staying true to myself means empathizing & educating with the platform I have. My Open Letter to @DrewBrees about why his “Focus on the Family” video, and his reaction today, was hurtful to many people, including me an openly gay man."
Reaction on Twitter was angry, including tweets from several local sports journalists:
2019, and this is how we treat people? Disgusting.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) September 10, 2019
T-Bob Hebert, the former LSU center who worked at WWL-AM for several years before moving to a Baton Rouge sports radio station, tweeted: "@WWLAMFM needs to support him. Inexcusable.'
Several hours after the tweet disappeared, WWL issued this statement on Twitter:
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
Dunlap, a native of Washington state who came to work at the station several years ago, wrote in last week's personal essay about the difficulties he'd experienced being gay, particularly in the world of sports media.
"I’ve dealt with a lot of shame in my life," he wrote. "I grew up in one of the most rural, remote places in our country. I felt shame every minute of every day trying to hide who I really was, attempting to conform to the world views of a very closed and unwelcoming community.
"When I was able to escape that area in 2002, heading to college on academic scholarships at the local state university, I found that place as nearly unwelcoming to young gay men and lesbian women. I felt an overwhelming amount of shame working for the local radio station during and after college, having to listen to my bosses talk openly in the office about how they believed gay people should be ‘rounded up and given a quick and easy death.’"
Reached by phone, Dunlap declined comment about the offensive tweet sent out by his own station. An email to WWL-AM's operations and program director, Diane Newman, was not immediately returned.
Dunlap did have one response on Twitter:
I'm just going to really enjoy knowing somebody is exceptionally upset I get to talk sports every night for a living pic.twitter.com/z5zlvfZRH0— Seth Dunlap (@sethdunlap) September 10, 2019
He addressed the controversy obliquely tonight at the top of his radio show, speaking of the joy that filled the Superdome during the Saints season opener against the Texans.
"The power of sport transforms the hate and divisiveness" that can infect the rest of our lives, Dunlap said, before cueing up Elton John's "Your Song."