Discussions of gun violence in Chicago have long been a political talking point, and one that’s sometimes made its way into sports. From Bill O’Reilly’s 2018 claim that LeBron James should “go to Chicago and help the poor people there” to Jason McIntyre’s claim on Fox Sports Radio last week that Chicago “is like a war zone” and “like Afghanistan,” the city’s often a target for claims about how bad it supposedly is. Unsurprisingly, that often leads to local pushback. And as Jeff Agrest explores at The Chicago Sun-Times, that’s now taken some unusual twists at Audacy-owned Chicago sports station 670 The Score, especially around producer Shane Riordan, now off the air for four straight shows without explanation.
"Parkins & Spiegel" executive producer Shane Riordan’s absence is telling, but The Score isn’t talking about last week's incident. https://t.co/mIPYFlNH1U
— Jeff Agrest (@jeffreya22) May 17, 2023
As Agrest writes, this started last Wednesday after McIntyre’s remarks. There, 670 The Score’s Riordan (executive producer of Parkins and Spiegel) quote-tweeted video of McIntyre’s comments with “Keep Chicago out of your ******* mouth, @jasonrmcintyre. You are both uninformed and disgusting,” and added many more thoughts on the issues he had with those comments. On Thursday, hosts Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel (seen at top left and top right above) brought up McIntyre’s remarks on their show, and generally endorsed the criticisms Riordan (seen at bottom left above) have made of them. Here’s that 15-minute segment:
But Parkins and Spiegel also brought in how Dan Proft, a conservative morning show co-host with Amy Jacobson on WIND 560, went after Riordan on air and on Twitter. And that led to a lot of criticisms of Proft from all three. And, perhaps most notably, that included Riordan talking about Proft “peddling fear porn” and claiming he “paid for the votes” (in a 2008 Cicero, IL election where Proft supported a candidate for town president). That starts around 5:20, with Riordan saying “Dan Proft, he peddles fear porn for people who hate Chicago while doing his radio show poolside in his stupid-*** Florida home. This guy has been peddling Republican politicians for the last 30 years, and the only time he’s ever won an election was in Cicero when he paid for everything, he paid for the votes.”
Riordan went on from there. “This isn’t political to me. He’s a horrible person, but this isn’t political to me, it’s standing up for my city, which is not Afghanistan. …You don’t compare it to the Middle East, and a war zone. You don’t talk about me like that. You know where the studio is. I’ll give you my address. And Dan, I’ll have sex with your mother! Dan Proft, you bring your mother over here, and I’ll bone her. I don’t care, dude.”
The last part of that (around 6:10) drew particular pushback from Proft, whose mother is deceased. Last Friday, he tweeted a clip from later in the show, where Parkins and Spiegel laughed at Riordan’s “offer”:
This is where @DannyParkins, after saying he's never heard of me, declares his hatred for me and @amyjacobson. After he tells Amy to leave town @shane_riordan threatens her. Then, these towering intellects offer an attaboy to Shane for saying he wants to have sex w/ my dead mom. pic.twitter.com/Nn6bXquPRL
— Dan Proft (@DanProft) May 12, 2023
As Agrest writes, Riordan now hasn’t appeared on 670 The Score since Thursday, hasn’t tweeted since then, and he, the station, and Audacy aren’t commenting:
Executive producer Shane Riordan has been off the air since Friday, a day after he made lewd and crude remarks on the air. They didn’t reach the level of a Federal Communications Commission violation, but they were offensive enough that Riordan is believed to have been punished. He’s expected to return, though The Score hasn’t made any statements.
A spokesperson from station owner Audacy said, “We have no comment on last week’s incident at The Score.” Riordan also declined to comment and hasn’t tweeted since Thursday.
Agrest notes that while most of the back-and-forth trash talk between Riordan, Parkins, Spiegel, and Proft isn’t that unusual for radio disputes, the specific discussion of Proft’s mother is. And it’s understandable why that might lead to some corporate action against Riordan. However, the lack of transparency around that action isn’t great.
There’s a long history of media suspensions for on-air comments, and that history is often without a lot of consistency. Some suspensions have even been claimed to not be punishment (at least from a legal perspective) when they’ve been with pay. But pulling a regular on-air figure off the air with no explanation or announcement of suspension length isn’t ideal. In this case, it seems likely it’s specifically for the comments on Proft’s mother, but 670 The Score and Audacy choosing not to comment on that means that any or all of Riordan’s comments here can be seen as over the line.
And yes, companies aren’t under an obligation to announce suspension details. And many companies less in the public eye don’t. But the media world is quite a public one, and it’s very obvious when a normal on-air figure is suddenly gone. Listeners deserve a bit of an explanation there, as do other station employees. (Perhaps the latter have received an internal explanation, but that’s not clear at this point.) So 670 The Score certainly could have handled this better. We’ll see where they go from here, and if and when Riordan returns to their airwaves.