The Shane Spencer Imposter and Mistake Radio

An Albany radio station made national news this week after airing an interview with an imposter of former Yankee Shane Spencer.

On Monday, the imposter appeared on ESPN Radio 104.5 FM The Team posing as Spencer, claiming “Spencer” used steroids during his playing days about a decade ago and cast suspicion on beloved Yankee legends.

It was all nonsense.

Of course, the first culprit is the man who called in. But the radio station also erred twice: (1) letting him on in the first place and (2) the way it reacted.

In the age of caller ID, it doesn’t take much to check any call that appears suspicious. Their suspicions should have been heightened by the controversial remarks. They weren’t. In fact, the Monday afternoon interview remained on the station website until Tuesday, when the real Spencer called the station. He heard about the interview from a friend. Spencer, who considers himself “a good role model” for kids was rightfully “appalled and outraged.”

The station’s response may be more troubling. It arranged to interview the real Spencer and it repeated the imposter’s false claims. Even worse, the station and the host¬†took no responsibility for the fiasco, blaming it on the “criminal actions” of the caller.

The imposter doesn’t hold the license to the station. It is responsible for every word that gets broadcast. The station’s response might have stated:

We regret the harm the Shane Spencer imposter caused to Mr. Spencer, to the others named and to our credibility. We will take every step possible to help him set the record straight. We are reviewing our procedures to make changes to help prevent this unacceptable and embarrassing episode from ever happening again. 

This is a teaching moment. Time for The Team to step up to the plate.

The writer is a radio host, adjunct media professor and crisis communications consultant. More at markgrimm.com.