Jeremy Kohler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 2006
A week after being fired from his radio show for using a racial slur when talking about the nation’s most politically powerful black woman, David Lenihan returned to the microphone Wednesday.
Lenihan appeared at a news conference held by leaders of the NAACP to call for his reinstatement at KTRS-AM (550), saying they believe he is sorry and that the incident provides a “teachable moment.”
For his part, Lenihan said he and his wife, Karen, had joined the NAACP this week and that he wanted to help publicize a campaign to discourage drivers from fleeing police officers.
“We think this is vital for the city of St. Louis,” he said.
The six group leaders, sitting on either side of Lenihan, acknowledged that some people wouldn’t understand their support of a person whom many had branded as a racist.
“I’m in the forgiving business,” added Sam Moore, an NAACP member.
Absent from the news conference was the chapter’s vice president, Claude Brown. Asked later by phone how he felt about the development, Brown answered, “No comment on that.”
Lenihan, who is white, obliged his new associates with a few words about the campaign, aimed at young urban drivers, called “411 on the 5-0.” (That’s street slang for information about the police.)
Said Lenihan: “I’m very proud to be associated with this fine organization.”
A week ago, Lenihan was on the air discussing the possibility of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice becoming the next head of pro football. It would be a “big coon,” Lenihan said.
He would explain that he meant to say “coup,” but that it morphed with “NFL” to become one of the last words he would say to radio listeners. At least for now.
Lenihan was out of a job in 20 minutes. KTRS General Manager Tim Dorsey came on to tell listeners “there is enough hate.”
That day, NAACP chapter President Harold Crumpton praised Dorsey’s quick ax. But Crumpton said Wednesday that he changed his mind after a chapter member said he had talked to Lenihan and that Lenihan had said he would like to have the group’s help.