The Fanatic 97.5, an ESPN affiliate, suspended Missanelli Feb. 4. Greater Media Inc. vice president of corporate communication Heidi Rapael told PGN Missanelli is suspended “until further notice.”
Missanelli, who has been with the station since 2010, got into a hostile email exchange with a listener, the origin of which is unknown, in November and December, according to emails released by Deadspin.com.
In a Nov. 5 email, Missanelli called the unnamed listener a “computer geek loser with absolutely no female involvement” and an “obsessive homosexual IT freak.”
He went on to use phrases “closeted homosexual” and “latent homosexual” repeatedly throughout the correspondence. He made more than a dozen disparaging remarks about the listener’s perceived sexual orientation throughout the exchange.
When the listener took issue with the antigay comments, Missanelli said he doesn’t “hate gay people at all” but added “just think you should come out of the closet. You have an obsession with me.”
This is not the first time Missanelli, a former Philadelphia Inquirer writer, has faced employment problems.
In 2006, he was let go from 610 WIP after he allegedly hit WIP producer Brian Ribbins. Missanelli also created waves in 2004 when he called Philadelphia Eagle David Akers “a girl” and a “drama queen.”
The Fanatic on Tuesday issued a statement that, although Missanelli’s antigay language was inappropriate, the listener was harassing him.
“This individual has been harassing Mike by email for several years, which is cause for concern, and we are working with Mike to try to identify this person and stop the abuse,” the statement said. “However, that does not excuse Mike’s conduct. The content of his emails is unacceptable and does not reflect our values as a company.”
In a statement Wednesday, Missanelli apologized for his word choice but also pointed to a history with the listener.
“The person in question is a serial e-mailer who has been harassing me and threatening violence on me and my family for years, using countless e-mail addresses and computer servers to send his poisonous messages,” Missanelli said. “Inquiries to discover his identity and have the law-enforcement authorities deal with him have not thus far been successful. My response to him was a desperate attempt to get him to cease and desist, or at least discover the motivation for his hatred and obsession towards me. Anyone who knows me or has ever listened to my show knows that I would never cast aspersions on anyone’s culture or lifestyle.”