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Kimberly & Beck fired
Rochester, N.Y. -- Two popular local radio hosts have been fired Thursday morning after making controversial comments during their show on Monday.
Kimberly and Beck were the hosts of "The Breakfast Buzz" on 98.9 FM The Buzz.
The station made an announcement on Twitter Wednesday night that the hosts were suspended, saying the decision came after the two made hateful comments against the transgender community.
The hosts' comments were in response to the city's recent decision to offer transgender health benefits to employees.
STATEMENT FROM ENTERCOM ROCHESTER: "This morning Entercom fired Kimberly and Beck effective immediately. Their hateful comments against the transgender community do not represent our station or our company. We deeply apologize to the transgender community, the community of Rochester, and anyone else who was offended by their hateful comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership." --- Sue Munn Vice-President/General Manager Entercom Rochester
Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck joined 98.9 FM in the summer of 2001 and launched "The Breakfast Buzz with Kimberly and Beck" show that became one of the highest rated morning radio shows in Rochester.
The duo always worked together while they were on the air in Rochester and while popular, the show was not without controversy. The pair were suspended from the airwaves at least a handful of times during their careers, most recently for about a week earlier this month.
The rant that got the pair in trouble this time lasted about twelve minutes on Monday morning and mocked the transgender community, a caller who was attempting to explain more about that community, and even a local unnamed high school student who is supposedly a transgender and playing for their school's softball team.
"What Kim and Beck said was absolutely repugnant, disgusting, and vile. They hold a platform and we need to hold those in positions of power accountable for their actions, their speech, and what they put are putting out into the universe," said Evaine Wesp who protested outside the Entercom Radio studios Thursday morning. "We were reduced to a laugh track on a morning radio station; I am a person first, transgender second and what they said disgusted me to my bones."
13WHAM News Reporter Sean Carroll spoke briefly to Kimberly Ray on Thursday. She said that at the time Beck and her had no comment to offer the community.
"It was just such blatant ignorance and misinformation and really not understanding the issues, that was the part that was really heartbreaking is that people could still be that misinformed," said Scott Fearing the Executive Director of Gay Alliance.
Fearing said estimates show about 0.3% of the community is transgender only a small fraction of those people actually undergo physical alterations to their appearance.
"When you're talking about gender identity it really is about gender between the ears not gender between the legs and it's knowing yourself as a man or a woman, male or female, boy or girl," explain Fearing. "And knowing that the gender you were told you were at birth doesn't fit the gender you feel yourself to be and that disconnect of knowing who you are and what everyone else is telling you, you are can be very painful and a really difficult journey for many people."
13WHAM also hear from Matt Haag, a city councilman who worked with Mayor Lovely Warren on crafting the changes to the citys healthcare plan. In a statement he said: "I was shocked and then disappointed that anyone would use those comments about an entire community of people. Clearly they were comments made without knowledge or understanding of the Transgender community. I appreciate Entercom's response to this situation. I hope it's an opportunity for the community as a whole to better understand the Transgender community and healthcare issues the members of that community face."
In hundreds and hundreds of social media comments on the 13WHAM Facebook Page and to the 13WHAM Twitter account (@13WHAM) many people are bringing up issues surrounding the "Right of Free Speech."
Christopher Thomas, a partner at the Nixon Peabody law firm, explained that the right to speak freely does protect citizens from government persecution or criminal actions but not from any and all consequences of their speech.
"The beauty about this country is that we can have smart thoughts and we can have dumb thoughts, we can say smart things and we can say dumb things but we don't necessarily have a right to say dumb things on our employer's time and on our employer's dime," said Thomas. "That is where they crossed the line."