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WTKK suspends talk-show host Jay Severin

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
April 1, 2011

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Jay Severin, the right-wing talk-show host on Boston’s WTKK-FM radio station, has been suspended again. The highly paid drive-time host — who was pulled off the air in 2009 for calling Mexican immigrants “primitives,’’ “leeches,’’ and “women with mustaches and VD’’ — has been suspended indefinitely, according to a station spokeswoman. “Jay was suspended after we received serious complaints about the recent content of his show,’’ said Heidi Raphael of Greater Media Inc. “The matter is currently under review.’’ Raphael wouldn’t discuss what Severin said to upset listeners and perhaps advertisers, but we’re told it may be related to a comment Severin made while discussing the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. (He suggested it is an employer’s prerogative to have sex with an intern, and implied he may have done so many years ago.) A source at WTKK was surprised by the suspension and characterized the comment as mild in comparison to the misogynistic, borderline racist rantings found elsewhere on the radio. Severin, who signed a seven-year contract in 2006, has not been on the air since Tuesday. In a voice mail yesterday, the host said he was “not at liberty’’ to talk and referred us to his lawyer, George Tobia, who declined to comment. Severin, who’s one of the highest-paid talk-show hosts in the city, making close to $1 million a year, has lagged in the ratings of late. As a result, the station has begun introducing a series of cohosts. One of them, Michael Bower, was Severin’s replacement yesterday and Wednesday, the first day of his suspension. Nothing if not provocative, Severin has a long history of using strong language — he’s called Hillary Clinton a “lying [expletive]’’ — and sometimes it gets him into trouble. Following his monthlong suspension in 2009, Severin returned with an apology for his “hurtful, unkind, and wrong’’ commentary. “Most especially to the members of the Mexican community and Mexican-American community, I regret my remarks and apologize for them,’’ he said, reading from a statement.