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Rochester radio show 'crossed a line' with transgender comments

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Buffalo: Rochester radio show 'crossed a line' with transgender comments
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Morning radio hosts Kimberly and Beck were fired Thursday following an uproar over their take on new transgender benefits for City of Rochester employees.

The two hosted "The Breakfast Buzz" on WBZA, known as 98.9 The Buzz, which can be heard throughout the Rochester area.

The station's owner, Entercom Communications, said Thursday that Kimberly Rae and Barry Beck were let go because of comments made on the air Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, a segment of the Breakfast Buzz was dedicated to talking about an announcement Rochester's mayor made Saturday - new transgender-inclusive benefits for city employees.The benefits will cover municipal employees who are transgender or gender non-conforming.

"The services that will be paid for under the new coverage: gender reassignment surgery, psychological counseling, because you're probably a nut job to begin with, that's my opinion, hormone therapy, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery," Kimberly said, on the air.

Entercom vice president and general manager Sue Munn released a statement Thursday saying:

"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 comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership."

"Part of the job of being a morning shock jock is indeed to be making shocking comments; however, they did cross the line in this particular case,” said Scott Fearing, executive director of the Gay Alliance.

Fearing said he wasn't surprised that radio station owner Entercom suspended Kimberly and Beck Wednesday after public outrage over the comments. He's also not surprised they've been fired.

“The entire conversation had a tenor about it that it was so incredibly ignorant. I just kept slapping my forehead. I just couldn’t believe that they could say such ignorant things," Fearing said.

"I thought it was pretty poor. I thought it was something you’d hear in a 9th grade locker room," said Pamela Barres.

Barres is transgender. She likens the conversation to bullying, particularly references to a local high school student who is also transgender.

"Yeah, I was mad, but I really thought it was - I hate to waste time on people that are that hateful," Barres said.

Fearing hopes the good to come out of the controversy is an honest discussion about the issue.

"I think the good out of this is the conversation that it has indeed sparked.”

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