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My Sister was Bullied by a Radio DJ (Transcript Included)

Hello, my name is Alex, and I have an older sister, named Kellie.  Kellie is 30 years old, and can easily be described as the most loving, caring, and wonderful person I have ever met.  She sees the world very differently than most of us– without cynicism and with complete and utter hope.  To Kellie, each and every person is good, unless proven otherwise.  Anyone who visits her, no matter how frequently, is always greeted with a “Hi!,” an endless, gut wrenching hug, and a sincere declaration of love.  My sister is truly a beautiful person in both body and spirit whose outlook on life I can only hope to someday attain.  In many ways, I look up to her.  My sister passionately loves music and dancing and growing up I remember countless times that I would open her bedroom door to find her dancing and singing at the top of her lungs in front of the mirror.

You may wonder what makes Kellie so special, what makes her story different from any other big sister you or someone you know may have? Well, Kellie happens to have Down’s syndrome. If you know anything about Down’s syndrome you know that it is something that unique people, like my sister Kellie, are born with and will live with for their entire lives. Kellie, despite some hardships and challenges she has faced, has always persevered and been positive, friendly, and happy just being who she is.


This is my dearest sister, Kellie.

On Monday, January 21st, my sister was faced with yet another instance of feeling like she was different, or that the fact that she had Down’s syndrome made her somehow less than other people. On the 21st she accidentally phoned in to Mo’s Radio Show on the Q92 Radio Station based out of Alliance, Ohio, where her manner of speaking was rudely scrutinized and unapologetically berated by both Mo and countless individuals who were “tuned in” at the time.  Mo opportunistically exploited my sister’s imperfect speech through his radio show and made her an object of amusement for all of his listeners– including people that knew Kellie.

“No, say it real slowly. I want to try to figure this out. It’s a little game.”

Anyone would have been embarrassed to be both accidentally aired on the radio and ridiculed for something which one has no control over. What Mo and countless listeners did not consider is what this experience felt like for Kellie. Kellie is self-conscious about her Down’s syndrome and has expressed her insecurity throughout her life.  Sometimes, she will ask, “Why do I look different?,”  and other times, “Why do I talk funny?”  When it comes with dealing with tough social situations, such as speaking with an unknown person when she accidentally dials the wrong number, she will fumble over her words out of general embarrassment that all people feel in such instances.  Most of the time, people will understand, at least to some small degree, and will deal with the situation with as much compassion and tact as possible.

When it comes to dealing with difficult emotional situations, Kellie processes her feelings very outwardly.  Everyone has an emotional range, and Kellie has the capacity to become so hurt that she will cry for days.  Being the epitome of an optimist Kellie trusts and assumes that everyone is trustworthy and kind.  When someone breaks that trust, it hurts her in a way that is far deeper and more powerful than I could ever understand.  I imagine it feels like the most intense betrayal or the greatest heart break I could ever experience. It is earth-shattering.

Knowing this, now considering the reality of what happened that January afternoon, try to understand the emotional pain, heartbreak, and confusion that my sister had to feel for the sake of public entertainment.  Undoubtedly Mo and the radio studio will continue to hold on to the argument that “the ‘host’ wouldn’t have aired the call had he known the situation in advance,“ that Mo “would NEVER do this with any sense of malice,” but what other sense could there have been in this situation? Mo himself stated, “You don’t know who Mo is? Okay, so I can laugh at you and you won’t know who to call and say you‘re offended. (laughs) Very good.” It was quite clear that Mo knew what he was saying and doing was offensive and inappropriate, but that did not stop him.

“You don’t know who Mo is?”


“Okay, so I can laugh at you and you won’t know who to call and say you‘re offended. (laughs) Very good.”

Whether or not the call was made from an individual with Down’s Syndrome, an individual with a speech impediment, or some foolish prankster looking for attention, the direction and focus of the aired conversations were centered on something that is hurtful and demeaning to numerous people. Essentially, it was entirely ignorant to air the call into live radio at all. The situation would have never escalated had the “host” simply said to Kellie, “I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you’re saying,” or “This is Q92, I think you have the wrong number.” Whether intentional or not, this experience was real and it caused a great deal of hurt to many people, not the least of all to Kellie and it should have never turned out this way.

Luckily for Kellie, she has a strong, supportive family to help her through this time. What I don’t want to see happen is Mo or another jockey like him believe it is appropriate when “somebody calls my show with a little speech impediment– I have a little fun.” The next child or adult to become the focus of this cruel bullying may not be as lucky as Kellie. It could easily be someone who is defenseless to the act, someone who has no one to stand up for them—a child aired mistakenly on the radio who becomes an object of mockery and bullying at school or an adult with a developmental disability who lives alone in a group home. It is never appropriate to make someone who is different from you a bull’s eye on the target of your “humor”. We try to teach our children tolerance and love, but then what hope can we have for them to adopt this mentality when they can hear and see the adults around them blatantly ignoring the lessons they teach.

The Transcript

MoRadioShow Transcript: January 21st, 2013

The transcript provided to us was very evidently edited and “spliced” together as we indicate below. We know firsthand family and friends who were tuned in that said there was a two hour time span that is only accounted for with approximately the first 10 minutes of the recorded audio that the radio station provided us. There was more said, but, regardless of whether or not we ever receive that audio the damage was done and you cannot ignore the blatant bullying that was aired.  Here is what was given to us.  M represents Mo (the DJ on Q92) and K represents my sister, Kellie.

M: Q92.

K: Hello?

M: Hello?

K: Hi.

M: Hi.

K: Can I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart please?

M: You what now?

K: Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: You what?

K: OK I’m Kellie Christine Baker. I talk to Kel–

M: You what?

K: Ann Burkhart.

M: You what, the who, the where?

K: I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: You what?

K: Okay. I want to talk to your daughter. Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Eh, Uh… I don’t want to come across– obviously you have some sort of a speech impediment.

K: Uh…no, this my voice.

M: What?

K: This my voice.

M: It’s your voice?

K: Yes.

M: Well, it’s the– I’m just saying– Don’t get angry. Obviously I—

K: I’m not angry. I’m not angry, I’m not.

M: Okay.

K: I want to talk to my friend.

M: Are you from this country?

K: Uh, I live Strausburg.

M: You what?

K: I live Strausburg.

M: You live in Strausburg?

K: Yes.

M: Okay. And, and, and speak SLOWLY. What would you like?

K: I want to talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Boy, I’m having a real rough time here.

K: Ya try this again.

M: Ye– what now?

K: Hold on…I’m get

M: Huh?

K: getting frustrated right now.

M: What?

K: Never mind. I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: You want to talk to somebody?

K: Yes.

M: Who do you want to talk to?

K: I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart?

M: (laughs)

K: Never mind.

M: Hey, I can’t– I, I, I — listen– I can’t understand you. Again I can’t be the first person to have told you that it’s tough to understand you.

K: Alright, never mind.

M: Alright?

K: I’ll see ya later ok, bye

M: K– Say it real slowly.

K: Never mind, never mind.

M: No, say it real slowly. I want to try to figure this out. It’s a little game.

K: Okay.

M: Alright, you want to talk to— do you know you called a— [coughs]. Pardon me. Do you know you called a radio station?

K: No.

M: Oh yes, you called a radio station.

K: Oh yes I did, yes I did. I’m sorry.

M: Okay, yes, well now you know you called a radio station.

K: Yes I did.

M: Yes you did.

K: Sorry about that.

M: Yes you did, yes you did. Yes, you’re talk to Mo. Do you know who Mo is?

K: No.

M: You don’t know who Mo is?

K: No.

M: Okay, so I can laugh at you and you won’t know who to call and say you‘re offended. (laughs) Very good.

— ends phone call—-

M: Q92- MoRadioShow. Gotta text message: “hey Mo, the caller sounded like the teacher from The Peanuts cartoon”. I, I, I‘ve, been tryin to figure out on the air what the person was sayin. I can’t figure it out. They wanted to talk to somebody, and…

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Kelly Ann? Carry Ann?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: I have no clue. I don’t know.

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: I’ve been trying to figure this out for ten minutes now.

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Who?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Pardon me?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Come again?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Care to repeat that?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Kelly Ann? Carrie Ann? I have no clue. No idea.

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Kelly Ann Burkhart maybe?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: (laughs) I have no idea. Who know– what would the… the uh, the caller said she didn’t have a speech impediment– she said it was her voice, but she had skipped words. Like, I asked her where she was calling from and she goes “I call Strausburg.” You know people talk like that? I dated a girl who was Arabic and she explained to me Arabic– how it works, like they– if we were to talk in Arabic it would be like “I go store.” Or, “I get dinner,” I mean it’s like really odd. Like how we speak, “I, I, I’m gonna go to the store,” “I’m gonna go make dinner now…whatever” it’s like she was explaining Arabic– it’s like that. That’s what she said, she’s like, “I live St— I, I, I live Strausburg” or “I Strausburg” and then I dunno, I kept asking her who she wanted to talk to?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Who knew— Kelly Ann Burkhart? Possibly.

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Who?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: (laughs) ‘Scuse me?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: Come again?

(clip of K): I talk to Kelly Ann Burkhart.

M: (laughs) Who? Who knows? (laughs) WHY? Why did you put me in this position? I don’t know what you’re saying– I apologize. New music on the way from Panic at the Disco—it’s new Taylor Swift and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” It’s Q92 and Mo Radio Show.

—Playback cuts out—

M: Q92 Mo Radio Show [gives contact info]. Q92, Hello?

Caller 1: Mo?

M: Yes.

Caller 1: Hi, I’m uh, calling in regards to the caller that called in. That you said you couldn’t understand.

M: I tried really hard.

Caller 1: It sounds to me.. I’m in the medical profession–

M: Yeah?

Caller 1: …It sounds to me like she has Down’s Syndrome.

M: Nah, I don’t think so.

Caller 1: You DON’T think so?

M: No, I don’t think she had Down’s Syndrome.

Caller 1: It sound like she has maybe a little bit of a hearing problem. I’m not sure, her speech is… it’s not clear, but to me– I’ve been around enough —

M: Yeah.

Caller 1: Down’s Syndrome people to– And she does sound like she has Down’s Syndrome.

M: Like I said, I didn’t want to come across like I was pickin on the person. Now somebody just texted, the said that uh, “people that are partially deaf talk that way.” I’ve TALKED to people who are partially deaf, that sounded like a speech impediment. To me.

Caller 1: (laughs) It didn’t come across to me as that…

M: No?

Caller 1: Yeah, it does kinda sound like she does have some kind of hearing loss and um maybe a little bit of some Down’s Syndrome, so…

M: Alright.

Caller 1: That’s just my opinion.

M: Okay so, just– I didn’t know what the hell she was sayin. So, and then of course I’m sitting there goofing on it and I’m just waiting for it. I already got a stupid text message here, and all “Mo she sounds like she’s mentally retarded- Take it easy on her,” and ya know it’s like—

Caller 1: No…

M: Whatever.

Caller 1: No, I think she has Down’s or a hearing problem, so, that’s just my opinion– only because I’ve been in the medical field and I’ve heard people that way…

M: Alright.

Caller 1: So, okay?

M: Alright. Cool. Thank you.

Caller 1: Alright, thank you.

M: Yeah, bye.

I don’t know what to do in that situation. Like I want to have fun and goof around and everything else but I also don’t want to uh… I actually, I, I don’t want to have meetings. “What did you do on your show yesterday Mo?” And not that that happens very often, but, this whole thing! Hey I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day, I go, I can’t even do radio anymore cause I’m so paranoid. I’m so freaking paranoid about what’s going to offend the person that I can’t even do a radio show anymore. I mean I couldn’t believe all the people that were offended by my breast feeding comments, a, a week ago. I mean I, I was astounded how many people where offended by that. It’s like, ya know– and then I gotta sit there and wonder: Oh, is the wrong group going to uh, come after me? I uh, this whole world we’re livin in man, you take the fun away from life, you really do. You take the fun away. You can’t even crack a, a tasteless joke anymore without people up in arms and offended and everything else. They come calling for your job. It really ticks me off– radio ticks me off lately. It’s like I, I, I gotta sit there and I’m walking on eggshells. And I’m still considered a controversial jock and I’m walkin on eggsheslls! 300 comments. People calling for my job because I was kidding around about breast feeding and compared it to public urination. People were calling for my JOB. My livelihood, cause I made a goofy, funny analogy. I can’t even do this job anymore because of that. Come in here and just tell you the news and intro and outro songs. There you go. It’s the way I feel lately. It’s just it’s it’s the way I feel lately. Stupid radio business. You don’t know what’s wrong, what’s wrong … hey, here we go, here we uh here too, “Dude, seriously get off it, it’s getting offensive.” Hey-Hey whatever, there ya go, see, I can’t peop– I can’t do a radio show anymore! I can’t do it. I can’t have fun anymore. Doin this job. I’m uh, Imma have a meltdown in about a two minutes. I gotta go. It’s Q92.

—Playback cuts out—

M: … Text messages coming in: “Hey Mo, calm down. You’re a great guy, if no one can take a joke they don’t have to listen to your show.” “Still love your show Mo.” “Mo don’t get discouraged people need to lighten up.” See I nee– you gotta understand something alright? I understand that. I totally get that. People do need to lighten up. You need to understand the context in which something is being said. What’s happening is this… all this anti-bullying, this… uh, PC stuff is ruining entertainment. I really believe that. It’s ruining entertainment. It’s ruining what I do… what a lot of people do. And ye— ya run into a dilemma… when you know what you’re capable of doing and… you just can’t do it. You, you can’t do it anymore. Eh-uh- it just– the, the, the radio industry just is what it is, man. You know what’s funny is back when I was younger and I got in to the business I didn’t care. I just did whatever I wanted. Now there was good and bad to that. The good was– it was FANTASTIC radio, and I know there’s plenty of people out here who love my show now and I greatly appreciate that, I really do. It means a lot. But, back when I first got in to radio it was damn good radio and I didn’t care and I went out and I did whatever I wanted and it was fantastic. But, the downfall to that is– you get fired. You get fired. So, when I was in my early 20s I didn’t really care too much about uh, my future, and money, investments, bank account, things like that. Now that I’m in my early 30… Yeah it kinda matters a little bit. Uh, Just a tad. You know, so that’s it, man, that’s all it is. So when you do something like I do and you want to go with your first instinct, you know, like the first thing that pops in your mind, you know it’s gold, you know it’s good, you know it’s gonna make 99% of the people laugh. Right? It’s gonna be funny. But there’s that 1% of people that are going to be very offended. And unfortunately in this business, I mean listen if you’re a comedian you gotta deal with the same thing. You’re doin a television show like Family Guy or whatever you do the same thing. The

difference is most of these comedians, like uh, Dane Cook and whatever, he’s a multimillionaire, he don’t care. He doesn’t have to care. He’s a multi-millionaire. Like a show like Family Guy or whatever, it’s a multi millionaire, they don’t care, they couldn’t care less if you’re offended. Multimillionaire. I have to care about that. So, I gotta take into consideration that 1% of people– it doesn’t matter that 99% of people are laughing, if that 1% of people that I gotta be fearful of– I mean, I listen, I just letting you know what it’s like behind the scenes of radio. Hey listen, hey I, love Q92, it’s not like they come down on me ever, they really don’t, but they don’t come down on me because I have toned down. But then when I do something, that would be considered a little bit off the wall– like, ya know, somebody calls my show with a little speech impediment– I have a little fun. Or, you know, with the like I said, with the, the, the breastfeeding thing opened my eyes. It really did. Again. It was like 10 years all over again. And it wasn’t like the radio station– I didn’t get reprimanded at the radio station. But I know if the wrong person would have heard something then who knows… how things escalate? You know, I though looked at, uh, the Q92 fan page and it, it took me a couple of days because I didn’t feel like getting in to it. I didn’t feel like defending myself. Sometimes I’m sick of defending myself. It, I-I-I-it gets old you’ve been listening to the show for four years, if you don’t know who mo is by now I don’t know what to tell ya. So I just get sick of defending myself cause I take it a little personally. It’s like whatever. If you can’t figure out where I’m coming from that’s a you problem, that’s not a me problem. But a couple of days later I go on the Q92 fan page. I mean it, uh, and again, uh, you know how many people wanted me fired? Because I compared breast feeding in public to peeing in public. I mean, something so stupid like that. People wanted me fired. GONE! Off the radio. No more paycheck. Filing bankruptcy or whatever it is. On unemployment. Sell my car. All because of me trying to do a funny, uh entertaining radio show. See that’s the kinda stuff I gotta think about. That’s the kinda stuff. And it takes the fun out of what you do. To a point– now listen, I still love radio, I do. I love the job, I like being able to get my opinions out there. But, you gotta be fearful of somebody getting offended in this new world we’re living in where, where I mean you’re not allowed to goof on anybody. Don’t do it! If you have the audacity to pick on anybody you’re Satan is what you are. You’re an evil, terrible human being. Because ya goofed on– it doesn’t matter that we’ve been goofing on people since the beginning of time. And I’m not saying there’s not a problem with uh bullying sometimes. But I also think we are living in a sissy nation. And we talked about it a few weeks ago, the whole rise in suicides and everything else. People just don’t know how to handle things anymore. People take things way too personally. And it, it screws up people like me who’ve gotta get down here and do an interesting radio show. And trust me, every jock feels this way, every jock who does an interactive radio show like I do, a topical radio show like I do, a kind of a goof around show at times, takes a lot of phone calls. Going through the same thing I’m going through it’s just eh, it’s almost like, having a, uh, a quarterback like, uh, Tom Brady, and I know he lost yesterday but still. It’s like having a quarterback like Tom Brady and telling him he has to hand off a ball every time. When you know what he’s capable of if you would just let him loose. But you gotta hand off the ball every time. That’s the position I’m in. I know I could be saying or doing things that would be so funny and great and everything else. But I can’t do it because I don’t know what one person is gonna come out of the woodwork and call for my head. I don’t know. So, it’s just to the point right now where I just worry about my paycheck and money and that’s about it. And really I-I-it’s sick but it’s true. And I’m… text messages coming in, “Just like now Mo, comedian’s have to apologize for racy jokes.” Exactly! Um, “Sissy nation is an understatement. The world needs Prozac and a sense of humor.” Whew, I agree. Q92 MoRadioShow.

—Playback cuts out—

M: Q92.

Caller 2: Hey Mo. Hey, how you doin man?

M: What’s up?

Caller 2: Uh, the people who say that you go over the line, you should get fired, you should be like, alright, forget you guys then, I can make more money– cause you can, doing whatever you do, on go join XM or Sirius or something.

M: When I had the opportunity to [goes on talking about how difficult the radio business is]