Steve Harper, Leeana Karlson, WKJY DJs, suspended over homophobic parent hoax
Radio personalities Steve Harper and Leeana Karlson of Farmingdale's WKJY/98.3 FM have apologized and were suspended over the weekend after an on-air hoax involving a fictitious homophobic parent.
The suspension is "until further notice," David Widmer, general manager of Connoisseur Media Long Island, the station's owner, told Newsday. "We're still meeting with various community organizations and hearing feedback from listeners and the business community." He was distressed, he said, that Harper and Karlson were being "painted as homophobic and anti-gay" in social media as the hoax revelation went viral. "We're working with the gay and lesbian community to straighten that out." he said. "Steve and Leeana are extreme supporters of acceptance, tolerance and anti-bullying, and both have very strong, positive views on same-sex marriage."
On Wednesday, the two hosts of "The K98.3 Morning Show" described a 7th birthday party invitation by a Baldwin child named "Sophia." It purportedly was returned to her two fathers by a mother who wrote on it: "Tommy will NOT attend. I do not believe in what you do and will not subject my innocent son to your 'lifestyle.' I'm sorry Sophia has to grow up this way."
WKJY posted the invitation on the station's Facebook page with the caption, "Do you think she was right to write this?" A phone number the "mother" had included on the invite went to a voice mail that a station spokeswoman said had received "well over 2,000 messages before it was taken down."
"This story was, in fact, totally fictitious, and created by the two of us," Harper and Karlson wrote Monday on the station's website. "We are very sorry that we perpetuated this falsehood, even after it was clear that it had taken on a life of its own. We deeply apologize for violating your trust." WKJY also issued a statement of apology that included a comment from David Kilmnick, chief executive of Long Island GLBT Services Network, applauding the station's "quick and decisive actions."