On Monday, a local radio morning show host posted on Twitter a picture of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge with a red asterisk midspan at the top of the bridge following the word JUMP. The smaller-print related footnote of the asterisk at the bottom of the image said “to a new morning show.” The Coronado Times has chosen not to repost the picture, which was a marketing piece for the Kevin Klein Live new morning show. The tweet was seen by many and posted on the Coronado Happenings facebook group where it was met with outrage, anger, and disgust. This radio station, 97.3 The Machine, is owned by Entercom Communications and in February just signed a contract with the San Diego Padres to be the new flagship home of the Padres Radio Network.
Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey said, “I found the tweet to be incredibly disgusting and offensive. Especially to anyone that is suffering, or knows someone that is suffering, from a mental health illness. If that had been a picture of a local school, with a caption to “shoot,” it would have been equally abhorrent. Rather than dwell on that tasteless tweet/facebook post, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We can begin this by encouraging open and honest conversation around mental health so that no one has to suffer alone.” Mayor Bailey also took to Facebook with a meme of his own which speaks to the heart of how Coronadans feel about deaths from the bridge.
Wayne Strickland, of the Coronado San Diego Bridge Collaborative for Suicide Prevention, said he felt like the post was a “tasteless and disgusting misguided self-promotion of Kevin Klein.” He took to Klein’s Facebook page with a picture of a San Diego Union-Tribune article showing the bridge suicide prevention barrier work that the Collaborative is trying to get CalTrans to build. He asked Klein to remove the post.
The San Diego Padres released a statement from Executive Chairman Ron Fowler and General Partner Peter Seidler which reads:
“We find the comments made last night by Entercom’s employee offensive, insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mental illness and suicide are not joking matters. Additionally, we’ve expressed our concerns to Entercom around the tone and direction of the station they have chosen to create.
It’s important for our fans to know that our agreement with Entercom to move to 97.3 was an opportunity to expand our pre and postgame coverage and it was done well before we knew the format, the tone or the talent lineup.
We believe Entercom owes San Diego an apology. And, even though we do not have ultimate control over Entercom’s programming beyond our game broadcasts, we apologize for the behavior of the station.”
It was clear they were disappointed and in no way expected this kind of marketing from the station.
In the end, Klein did remove the post and he did issue an apology to the city of San Diego. If nothing else, one can only hope that Klein realizes San Diego and Coronado do not view suicide by way of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, or mental health illnesses, funny in any way, shape or form.