Kellie Baker, a 30-year-old woman with Down's syndrome, was trying to call her friend, Kelly Ann Burkhart, but dialed "The Mo Show," a program on a Canton, Ohio radio station, Q92, by mistake. The phone call took an odd and unsettling turn when "DJ Mo" started making fun of the way Kellie spoke.
"Eh, Uh ... I don’t want to come across -- obviously you have some sort of a speech impediment," Mo told Kellie. To which she replied, "Uh … no, this my voice." Realizing what was going on, Kellie tried to get off the phone, but Mo stopped her. And then things got much, much worse.
Here's a snippet of their conversation:
DJ Mo: 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.
Kellie: All right, never mind.
DJ Mo: All right?
Kellie: I’ll see ya later ok, bye.
DJ Mo: K -- say it real slowly.
Kellie: Never mind, never mind.
DJ Mo: No, say it real slowly. I want to try to figure this out. It’s a little game.
According to Kellie's sister, Kara Ball, after she hung up, she frantically called her mother crying. "She told my mom, 'I’m a 30-year-old woman, I have feelings too, and I hurt, too," Ball said. "Why would he make fun of me?'"
After the incident, DJ Mo was suspended -- still is. At first, Kellie's family was completely outraged and wanted him fired, but after several family conversations, they decided that they just want a face-to-face apology from him; and they want to use this opportunity to spread awareness on how to treat people with disabilities. DJ Mo has issued an apology to Kellie and says that he thought the phone call was a prank.
Be that as it may, radio stations typically pre-screen calls before putting them straight to air. You don't just dial up a radio station and quickly get connected to the DJ of your choice. I'm not quite sure how this phone call made it to air -- or why it went on so long. And this doesn't even sound like a prank phone call; it sounds like Baker dialed the wrong number and was looking for a girl named Kelly.
I hope that Kellie and her family get what they're looking for out of this terrible situation. If it were me, I'm not sure I'd be so forgiving. Everyone always seems really sorry when their jobs are in jeopardy.
What do you think of this?
by DyerMakerFebruary 5, 2013 at 7:43 AM
My husband was a radio DJ for several years. Unless a show is really big or syndicated, your chances of talking directly to your local DJ are pretty good, just FYI. Also, he would have several "regulars" that would call in Almost daily. Some regulars had special needs, some didn't, but one thing he learned a long time ago was that these were people. Loyal listeners or misdialed numbers.... Either way, if they sad something funny on their own, he asked to play it on air, but he NEVER poked fun at someone's abilities to talk.
I guess now that we have A special needs non verbal child with autism, we see cruelty towards the special needs community more often, but seriously.... This DJ should have held himself to a higher standard. Down's syndrome or not, what he did was bully someone for the way they talk.... And in The process, showed others that it is acceptable to make fun of another person for the way they talk.
It is one thing if someone calls up a station and says some stupid stuff on their own. This DJ really should re evaluate his public persona.