Up until this week Jay Severin
was a successful, conservative talk radio host on WTKK, 96.9 FM, in Boston. He was making nearly $1,000,000 a year.
However, earlier today the radio station fired him, Boston.com reports. His daily radio show during a prime “drive-time” slot, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. had been suspended since the previous Tuesday after Severin discussed the current sexual harassment case of American Apparel CEO Dov Charney.
More specifically, it was after he proudly announced on the air that he had slept with former female interns:
“Those girls that got to sleep with me got to know their boss better, they got to go on trips, they got to travel in some cases to various parts of the world, to see things and meet people that they never would have seen or done…These were not whores. These were Ivy League graduates, young women or interns from Ivy League institutions who were interested in politics and government.”
In case we didn’t get the picture, he made it even more clear that he felt no guilt about this:
“We’d have drinks together at the end of the day and we’d spend the night together. I should feel badly about that?”
After all, Boston is a big college town. Then, digging himself even deeper, he continued, impressively unapologetic:
“That’s not the purpose for which they were hired. I don’t think of myself as a monster or strange in any way because of that. All I was was a young man who was the boss and I did it because I could.”
This most recent incident was the second time Severin has been suspended from his radio show. In 2009 he referred to Mexican immigrants as “primitives,” “leeches,” and exporters of “women with mustaches and VD.”
Greater Media, the parent company that owns WTKK, announced in a press release today that it had “ended its relationship with Jay Severin.”
While the company encourages a “free and open dialogue,” their on-air talent must “maintain an appropriate level of civility.” Apparently “it had become clear at several points in the past two years that Jay was either unwilling or unable to maintain our standards on the air.”
Whether or not Severin deserved to be fired is up for debate. To speak so candidly about screwing his own interns was as sophomoric as it was self-congratulating.
But also, it wasn’t vulgar enough to call for FCC censorship. And it was certainly not illegal.
To his credit, Severin’s tone was surprisingly self-aware. In the audio recording, he admitted that he knew he was not particularly handsome and would never have gotten laid if he hadn’t been the boss. He was keenly aware that the balance of power put him in the position he was in, and believed that he did no wrong in exercising it.
However what Severin wouldn’t recognise was the completely inappropriate use of his power — that sleeping with a young woman who hopes to advance professionally through his organisation is unethical. Flashes of misogyny shone through as clearly as his inflated pride when he described the “success” for having used power to get sex.
It was not misogyny, foul language, or unethical behaviour that caused Severin’s contract with Greater Media to be terminated.
It was, in the end, the hubris that got him.
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