A DJ from the flagship radio station of the NFL’s Washington Redskins was fired after an incident earlier in the week when he and a partner, broadcasting live from the team’s Virginia training facility, called a local female sports reporter “Barbie” and “a cheerleader” on air while she was on assignment covering the team.
Michael Sorce, known as Don Geronimo, from WBIG-FM BIG 100, was broadcasting live Thursday at the facility in Ashburn, VA, when he and his co-host Crash Young saw WUSA9-TV reporter Sharla McBride walking inside the facility and began commenting on air.
“Hey look, Barbie’s here. Hi, Barbie girl,” Geronimo said live on air. “I’m guessing she’s a cheerleader.”
Later, when Geronimo and co-host Crash Young saw McBride again conducting interviews, they continued.
“Oh hey. There’s that chick that you thought … you said tight?” said Geronimo. “Yah. I screamed tight when she was …” said Young. “I think she’s a sportscaster at Channel 9, or Channel 7…” Geronimo continued. “I thought she was a cheerleader.”
WBIG is owned by iHeart Media, which is in the middle of a three-year contract with the team.
“After an internal review, Don Geronimo is no longer an employee of WBIG,” iHeartMedia’s D.C. Region president Aaron Hyland said in a statement Saturday to media, including WUSA9 and the Washington Post. “We take matters of this nature very seriously and this behavior does not align with our core values.”
According to WUSA9, McBride, a veteran sports & news anchor/reporter, was “hurt and incredibly offended that after 17 years as a journalist, sexist comments like that discredit her as a professional. She called it inappropriate, unprofessional and embarrassing.”
“Objectifying women is harmful and disrespectful,” WUSA9 general manager Richard Dyer said Friday. “We’ve heard from the Washington Commanders that they are addressing this situation directly with iHeartRadio. Promoting respect, empathy and equal treatment for all individuals, regardless of gender, is crucial for building respect in any workplace.”
On Thursday, word of the sexist comments got to the Commanders’ new ownership group led by Josh Harris, which acquired the franchise from Dan Snyder for a record $6.05 billion in July amid a wide-ranging workplace misconduct investigation. The team prohibited Geronimo and Young from broadcasting from camp Friday.
“We have worked hard to ensure that everyone feels safe and respected in our workplace, and we took swift action when we learned that an employee of our partner iHeart made sexually disparaging remarks to and about a member of the media while she was broadcasting live from training camp yesterday,” Commanders spokesperson said in a statement to the station.
“iHeart and the individual were not permitted to broadcast from Training Camp today, and we will continue to work collaboratively with iHeart to address the issue and trust that iHeart will take appropriate action as it works through an internal investigation.”
The team told the Post on Saturday it was “pleased” that iHeart addressed the matter swiftly.