So by now just about everyone has seen the video of A.J. Clemente having a really bad first night on the air at KFYR-TV in Bismarck, North Dakota. The newly minted West Virginia broadcasting grad was reportedly practicing pronouncing the Tsegaye Kebede when he cut loose with a “f#$in s%&t” over a live microphone. You can see the video here:
To those of you getting started in broadcasting, those are not likely to to be the first words you utter on the air. A.J. was promptly suspended from the station and very shortly after that fired.
And then… the sports blog Deadspin picked up on the story, and it went viral. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about the story. The famous F-bomb clip even showed up in bleeped form on Letterman this week.
So what happens to Mr. Clemente now? Edward Esposito, of the Radio Television Digital News Association tells him:
“Don’t worry, it’ll pass.
You’ll always be “that guy” who lost his first anchor gig on the first day he anchored by muttering two very bad words right off the bat. You’ll always be the guy who lost his job over it. You don’t have to be the guy who sinks his career over it.”
A.J. is trying to keep up his side of the story through his Twitter account, though he’s been pretty subdued. He did note that he’s going to be on the Today show tomorrow.
I should note that I was on the journalism faculty at WVU for 15 years before moving to Nebraska, and both A.J. and WVU (and Bismark’s NBC affiliate for that matter) all have my sympathy. But I thought the most interesting comment I saw on this case came from my old buddy “Doc” Ivan Pinnell, public relations professor and retired Army lieutenant colonel. He wrote on Facebook:
“Deep in the bottomless pit of every broadcaster’s stomach there was a twitch of relief when they heard A.J.’s story. Emotions? Sympathy? Empathy? Sorrow for A.J.? A desire to reach out to A.J.? Thank God it was A.J. and not me! Some station somewhere will snap him up in a heart-beat, and out of sheer curiosity some potential broadcast student and/or his/her parents who did not know WVU had a School of Journalism will pull us up on the internet just to check us out. In the long-run A.J.’s mishap may be a positive for A.J. and the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. Every cloud, even the darker ones, has a silver lining. We just have to look for it.”
Good luck, A.J. And watch the open mics….