Reader Forum: What's your view on ESPN's removal of Mark Madden?

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Mark Madden, who made his reputation with bold, outlandish attacks on famous people, has been permanently removed from the air by ESPN five days after making a scurrilous remark about U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on his 1250 ESPN talk show.

Earlier today we asked readers what they thought of the situation. We received dozens of responses, and have posted as many as possible that included full names and hometowns, and that did not include foul language:

When you listened to Mark Madden you knew what you were getting. Sure he was offensive at times but you always had the choice of not listening. The Ted Kennedy comment was very unfortunate on Madden's part. He knew what he was saying when he said it. Had he stuck to sports I bet no one would care. As much as he knew what he was doing and it was entirely unprofessional, he will be missed. His knowledge of sports and his ability to push people's buttons was and is unmatched. How long do you think it will be until someone else hires him? That will be the measure of whether or not what he said was truly intolerable.

Frank McClard, Union City, PA

Mark Madden was in the sports entertainment business. The second word is imperative. Mr. Madden was and is an entertainer. With a vast knowledge of sport and the ability to make us laugh, become angry, or experience any other series of emotions, Madden could at least invoke something interesting in each of us (or play devil's advocate) which is better, or more interesting, than the ra-ra talk elsewhere. As a West Virginia fan his disdain for the college has gotten to me several times. But like an intelligent human being I can take it for what it is: entertainment.

I was listening during Madden's comment and while it was off-putting the intention was tongue-in-cheek. Was it crass? Yes. Would Madden likely want to have it back? Yes. Was it disrespectful? Certainly. Madden comes from a background in professional wrestling. He knows how to play the heel. Most that have encountered him outside of his show find him to be very likeable, approachable, and honest. He has done work with local youth ball hockey teams and with developing hockey in underdeveloped neighborhoods that doesn't get attention in the negative crusades some writers (or writer) seem to have against him, not realizing that his radio persona is a character.

He was and still is just an entertainer. I have heard comments as offensive from some of the area's most beloved writers questioning other team's sexualities, criticizing entire cities broadly for no fair reason, and painting losing teams like the pirates as something relevant rather than as cash cows for greedy owners that don't appropriate revenue sharing dollars into the team but into their own pockets. I guess it depends who pays the bills at the broadcast company in question.

I hope Mr. Smizik can be happy for stoking this fire. Maybe the time would have been better spent criticizing (rather than rationalizing) the pirates, the most criminal entertainment act in town. He, like I now must, can enjoy the mundane and typical ramblings of Joe Bendel, Chris Mack, and other talkers that sound no different than the guy at the end of the bar. I just hope Madden can surface someplace else in Pittsburgh, and soon. But this was inevitable ... as you might say ... There was no ...doubt ... about it!

John Waltz, Jefferson Hills

It's disappointing to read Mark has been canned (even though we knew it was just a matter of time). Not only because he brought SATIRE to sports radio, but because ESPN radio has been exposed as the "Stepford Wife" of the Disney corp. Let's be honest, he wasn't fired because of the Kennedy comments - he had made too many disparaging comments about ESPN itself lately. And that's a no-no, folks. Now, we will be blessed with the statistical droning that is commonplace around the dial.

Also, Smizik's dark obsession with Mark is just plain weird. Especially because he used to be a frequent guest. It's sad to see grown men bicker at one another through articles and airwaves. I guess the soap opera is over. Good Luck, Mark. Thanks for the laughs.

Matthew Pfennig - Pittsburgh

 At last you finally got rid of this creep. He's a disgrace to sports talk radio and to Pittsburgh. Every time I came back to the Burgh I couldn't believe he was still on the air.

Moose Golicher, Jacksonville, Fl.

I haven't always agreed with everything Madden has said, but this firing is a little ridiculous. Obviously, this was an offensive remark. But I find it very ironic who the other party is. Ted Kennedy has made an entire political career of offensive, and even bigoted remarks. There was never any major movement to have him removed from the Senate. There seems to be a double standard here. Freedom of Speech means that you are going to have to hear things that offend you. Kennedy has made numerous offensive

comments about conservatives, Christians, gun owners, prolifers, and even about American soldiers. His freedom of speech was never challenged.

Also, those who know Madden know that his show is meant to be taken with a grain of salt. He says things for shock/entertainment value sometimes. He did go a little too far this time, but firing him seems a bit extreme, a few weeks off the air would have been sufficient.

Jim Brueckner - Pittsburgh, PA

Mark had something no other radio personality had..personality. I am sure he will be picked up by someone soon and I will listen again. If you didn't like it you didn't have to listen. Just the same I don't like ESPN radio now .. So I will not listen.

Bart Bratzke, Pittsburgh

Mark Madden's firing is just another example of how backward thinking the city of Pittsburgh is, a reason I moved 3 months ago. I countinued to listen to Madden over the Internet each day because he was straight and forward and told it how it was. Most of the people who are insulted by Mark are the ones who would call with the most outlandish comments. Keepin hanging on to the past Pittsburgh. Bring back the 80s and Stan and Guy. Its the living in the past that is the reason for the city's dying a slow death. I will find Madden whereever he lands. Just like all the other forward thinking individuals, I'm sure it will be outside of Pittsburgh. Now I'm off to see what ridiculous column Smizik recycled for today.

Jeff Yot, West Palm Beach Florida

The firing of Mark Madden has varying effects. Madden has gone too far on many occasions, - this was the reason he was let go, because of the constant violation of his contract. It was not based solely on the Senator Kennedy comments. Madden's controversial comments span beyond calling out local celebrities such as Hines Ward, or Franco Harris. It appears most of us forget the national response he evoked when he blasted a high school football coach and team for allowing a young man who was Mentally Retarded to score a touchdown for his school. Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly devoted his weekly back cover column to this event, and also took the time to call out Madden for his ridiculous comments aimed at the coach and the young man. For anyone to bash Bob Smizik because of his column's has no idea what they are talking about. Sports Journalism covers more then just the sport itself, rather it reaches out to a much broader spectrum. Madden delved into this very same spectrum, however; he unwisely abused it instead of taking a more creative approach - and that is where this termination is varying. While he had his faults, Madden was also very creative, intelligent, and had a panache that made him intriguing and enjoyable to listen to. Alas it is not ESPN, Bob Smizik, some fan with a tape, or the station managers fault that Madden has been silenced. It is Mark's - he is his own worst enemy.

Darren Steele, Moon Township

As a Pittsburgh sports fan, I love listening to and occasionally calling local sports talk shows. I always felt that Mark Madden didn't know a football from a baseball. He should have been fired for his lack of sports knowledge, not for what he said about Ted Kennedy.

Phil Gennaro, Monroeville

As I read all of these comments supporting Mark Madden's firing I wonder if these people realize the irony involved in lashing out at him in public calling him names. I was a fan of a lot of his topics and when I heard something that did not interest me, I switched the channel. After being at work for 10 hours it was a nice change of pace to listen to something that was comical, entertaining, and different with an underlying sports theme.

While I don't condone his comments about the senator, should that be a basis to start a protest and create an uproar? It's a radio show. Period.

This situation is a microcosm representing our country today. Life's too easy for everyone, people need something to complain about. Are we to believe that Mr. Smizik was truly hurt by Mr. Madden's comments regarding Mr. Kennedy? I think we all know the reason for his article. If we are to take our radio programs as serious as a heart attack, shouldn't we expect our hometown newspaper follow suit and not create a forum for Mr. Smizik to air his personal grievances, especially on the very day the Stanley Cup Finals start? After all, I would hate for the title of "One of America's Great Newspapers" to be taken away.

Craig Molinaro - Pittsburgh

I find it the highest form of poetic justice that after all these years of enduring crappy Penguins teams that give Mark Madden little to talk about, the teams so called biggest fan gets fired right in the middle of the teams first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 16 years. What goes around comes around.

Jeffrey Francis, South Park

To all you people who say the Post-Gazette shouldn't allow Bob Smizik to use his article to bash Mark Madden, doesn't ESPN (and more importantly, Disney) reserve the right to not allow Madden to declare his desire to see famous and popular politicians murdered? How hypocritical. No, Simzik didn't write about the Penguins the day before the Cup started, but Madden wasn't exactly talkin about sports on a sports radio show, now was he? You know, Madden was famous in this city for insulting the people who called his show, making the followers who tuned in and called him just as sick in the head as he was. Wouldn't the average caller be a devoted listener? Why would you insult the people who actally support you? Hopefully he doesn't turn up on the Pittsburgh airwaves again, maybe he'll end up on satellite so he and his 8.7 audience can call and everyone can just insult each other. I remember hearing before the draft that Madden insisted former Penn State and Penn Hills high school quarterback Anthony Morelli wouldn't find a job in the NFL... well Mark.. who's lookin in the classifieds now?! Good riddance to your 4 hours of hatred and wasted air time, and yes, i would like fries with that.


Bob Turner from Penn Hills

Stop being the morality police and telling me what I can and cannot listen to! Mark Madden was interesting, funny and gave the listeners something new every day. I'm in the car a lot; I listen to a lot of talk radio because I'm tired of hearing the same songs repeated on the FM stations all day long. I looked forward to Mark all day long for something different, something other than the same old boring stuff the other sports hosts give. Mark was rude and brash at times but that was his shtick, get it? No? Well then turn the station! There are plenty of talk shows that I can't stand and I've actually figured out how to deal with them; I tune them out. What an outrageous idea!! I can't understand who would listen to some of them but if they're still on the air then I guess they found an audience somewhere. So I let the audience decide.

Come on ESPN, look who you're taking your cues from! I read the forum and 8 of the 10 people that agreed with taking him off the air took the time to verbally insult him. This AFTER they complained about his insulting radio style. What hypocrites! "Bye-bye idiot."; "I hope he goes broke and has to live in the street as a forgotten man; the world would be a much better place."; "Goodbye and good riddance to the S.O.B."; "the fool"

"a total bore"; "you're a clown - go take you circus somewhere else" and this was my all-time favorite, "Mark Madden is a boorish, loudmouthed jerk whose "sports knowledge" is mostly ill considered opinion, and not fact. His personal attacks on people were disgusting and generally non-factual. I never understood his popularity except that his following is mostly young and completely uninformed."

So let me get this straight, you complain that his "personal attacks on people were disgusting and generally non-factual" as you personally attack him and insult his audience. Classic! Who is really the insulting and uninformed one here? What a great job you've done reading your audience ESPN! I'm turning the dial once again and it will land on whichever station has the guts to give the people what they want.

Dan Talbert, Point Breeze

I have read a lot of the comments that focus on the thought that Mark Madden shouldn't have been fired because he is "new school" and that offends me as a young guy. Where does it say that "new school" has to be offensive, insulting and cruel? Madden never let a caller disagree with him, he just hung up on them. He insulted people's mothers and sisters. He made sexual comments about teenage girls. The man was over the top and unprofessional no matter what school you are from.

I also read a comment from someone saying that ESPN was run by a bunch of liberals. That is not only untrue, but irrelevant. Wouldn't liberal management allow someone to push the envelope for speech's sake? The point is, it isn't old school vs. new school or liberal vs. conservative, it is simply a man with zero class, professionalism or decency should not be on the public's airwaves ... and now he is not and we are all better for it.

John B., Faber, PA

First off I would like to say "Big Fan, Big Fan".

I would never phone the Mark Madden show because I would never subject myself to such insults. Having said that, I would listen daily and was thoroughly entertained by those who did call in and get abused. The real reason that Mark Madden was fired is because of his relentless criticism of ESPN for not hiring him, instead of Mike Tirico. He has on numerous times claimed Tirico was his inferior and that he was the man for the job. Firing him for the Kennedy remark is a thinly veiled guise to get rid of an employee who criticizes management. A typical management tactic. Any intelligent listener drew their own conclusions to Marks outrageous rant. It is entertainment, does anybody get that?

I like many others who wrote before me will tune away from the boring replacements who will talk about who should be starting and who should bat fourth in the same old monotone. I have an idea; maybe they could broadcast LIVE from Carnegie Museum's Dinosaur Hall!

Michael Mckerahan, Pittsburgh, Age 52

I love all the free speech experts who say "just turn him off if you don't like it", Well that's just what ESPN did. They have the same option too. The guy liked weaving over the line and this time he went off the road and hit a tree. Stop crying about not having Madden. He'll get another job and he doesn't care about you. Deal with it.

PS: To anyone who called his show and was humiliated, you also got what you deserved.

Dan Arden, Pittsburgh

Mark Madden was a great entertainer. Some people lacking in a sense of humor may not have cared for his antics, and they should have just turned him off. But they didn't, they listened anyway, only to further disgust themselves. All they had to do was change the channel, but they didn't, they couldn't. He made the ride home from work enjoyable for many people, as shown by his ratings. A lot of his "enemies", who did not enjoy the type of humor that so many of us do, should stick to listening to such mind numbing sports talk as found on Fox 970, news talk 104.7, or KDKA. The Mark Madden show was one thing that was great about Pittsburgh for the younger generation of sports fans. Mark Madden is lucky, maybe he can get out of Pittsburgh and go to another city where the population is getting younger, not older, as so many other Pittsburghers have already done. Maybe he can go somewhere that people will see his value as an entertainer, and not take him so seriously.

Jason Dean, Pittsburgh

Mark, you will be missed by many. Unlike others, when I didn't like the show I turned on Hannity. Now I guess I'll be Hannitized every day.

I don't see a replacement coming along that will catch my interest. Let's all hope they don't try and dump Paulson in there.

Intelligent hockey talk in Pittsburgh is now dead ...just like it's coverage on ESPN.

John Locke, Bethel Park

I find it laughably hypocritical to read the number of people defending Mark Madden and chastising Bob Smizik for writing a "non-sports" column. I'm sorry, how did Madden's comments about Senator Kennedy relate to sports?

And let's not forget that Madden himself used his power of popularity to have Jim Wexell fired from a radio show after Wexell took Madden to task over comments about those infamous rumors about Kordell Stewart.

I am not a Bob Smizik fan. His writing ranges from pathetically

uninformed to just flat out boring -- a common trait among many a member of the Pittsburgh sports reporting fraternity. However, if Bob Smizik is your problem, Mark Madden is not your answer.

Madden has been fired from Time-Warner, the Post Gazette, WTAE and now ESPN and every time, it's for the same reason: his mouth.

If Madden is truly as talented as his fans claim, he should be able to take his act to any city in America and have a thriving career. In fact, with his professed disdain for the people of this area, we are only holding him back on the pathway to success.

Farewell, Mark. Try not to let the door hit you on the way out.

David Fair, New Kensington

Mark Madden typifies everything that is wrong with sports talk radio and talk radio in general. Just because one is willing to say anything on the air-no matter how irresponsible it may be- to get a reaction doesn't mean that person should have a forum. The comment he made about Senator Kennedy was tasteless and he needed to be held accountable for it. I applaud ESPN for finally having the nerve to look past the all mighty ratings and doing what is ethically and morally correct. He should have been taken off the air years ago. One can only hope that his radio career in Pittsburgh is over.

Rich Roberts, Plum Borough native living in Omaha, Ne.

I was sorry to hear that Mark Madden had been fired. My 18 year old son listens to him and enjoys his show. Mr. Madden is the yardstick by which all degenerates are measured. I only wish ESPN would keep Mr. Madden on the air as an example to our youth of the type of ignorance and bad behavior that exists today in our society. Use Mark as a teaching tool. Our young people are smarter than you think. It doesn't take long for them to understand what is considered inappropriate. Mark is a bad joke, but doesn't know it. Don't hide this riffraff in a dark closet somewhere. Put him out there for all to ridicule. No one really takes him seriously, do they?

Doug Deak, Pittsburgh

Good riddance. I just read about his comment about Ted Kennedy for the first time and I am in total agreement with his firing. No one should be the subject of a comment such as that which opens old wounds for the entire country.

I have just returned from a vacation to my hometown of Pittsburgh. I now live near Boston, MA.

Matthew DeCarlucci, Burlington, MA

It's a sad commentary that civility and public discourse sunk to the level characterized by a Mark Madden broadcast. Sadder still was the fact that there were listeners. I stopped listening to him many years ago and miss the days when Myron Cope and Stan Savran ruled the airwaves.

Gary Stoehr, Gibsonia

I think it was long overdue. I lived in Pittsburgh for 3 plus years and now live in Charlotte, NC. So I've gotten to hear a few different sports talk radio shows on espn radio and so on. And if anyone has seen the latest episode of "Costas Now" on HBO, talking about sports talk radio, sports blogs, media, Mark Madden's show was nothing more then "word vomit". Nothing he said showed character, or even intelligent thought. Please find someone better then the new sports guy @ kdka, jory rand. Nothing against the guy, he's just alittle annoying. GO PENS.

Mario Lopez, living in Charlotte, NC, via Clarksburg, WV, thru Pittsburgh PA

As a native of Clairton now living in New Jersey, I am HUGE fan via the internet of "Double M" and I am incredibly angered and disappointed at ESPN's decision to remove him from the airwaves. I look forward to listening weekdays at 3:00 to get my fix of Pittsburgh sports talk, but I tune in mostly TO BE ENTERTAINED. Yes it was a sports talk show, but like anything else on radio or TV, it must be entertaining or why bother to listen. As other people have said, if you didn't like "Double M", then TURN THE STATION. It is that easy! I was one of those who chose "Double M's" type of entertainment, but high and mighty ESPN seems to not agree. ESPN chose to terminate him over his comment about Ted Kennedy. While I will agree that the comment probably crossed over the line of good taste, is this a mistake where one should be fired? Knowing how much "Double M" loved the Penguins, I would think a 2 week suspension during the Stanley Cup final would have surely been more than enough to make their point. So instead, ESPN chooses to terminate him and deny us the one voice in Pittsburgh sports talk that is candid and not just a cheerleader for the local teams. So Bob Smizik and his 2 or 3 fans out there can be happy, they got what they wanted

Lastly, ESPN surely does seem to "pick and choose" what they feel is a fireable offense. Last I looked Mike Tirico and Jay Crawford were allowed to stay on the air when they had sexual harassment claims put forth against them. And let us not forget the drunken ramblings of Dana Jacobsen at the Mike and Mike roast. Seems you can offend Jesus and keep your job, but if you offend Ted Kennedy, you're out.

In the world of radio, advertising revenue and ratings do all the talking. So it won't be long until "Mr. 8.7" is back on the airwaves. When that happens, I will be listening on Day One. Hey Mark -- Big Fan, Big Fan!!!

David DeDominicis, New Jersey

I believe that ESPN made a big mistake in letting Mark Madden go. I do not agree with everything he says, but his entertainment value made sports talk a lot more interesting in Pittsburgh.

ESPN has shown a double standard by getting rid of Mr. Madden because of his comments. ESPN's Dana Jacobsen made despicable remarks about Notre Dame and also about Jesus during a Mike and Mike roast in Atlantic City. She was suspended for her comments and not fired. This story was also buried by ESPN and not explained.

It just shows that there is a double standard with ESPN and that is one reason the quality of their network and radio has gone down in the last few years.

Good luck Mark and I cannot wait to hear you back on the air soon.

Sean Rutter, Dormont PA

This is just another example of society being too sensitive to humor. Bob Smizik is epitemy of this "old" guard. Mr. Smizik needs to put more attention into improving his stale writing than going on vigilante runs against peope who's views are different than his. If Mr. Smizik can not do this I would advise him to retire, buy a bunch of cats, and become that grumpy/bitter old man on the corner of the street.

Jeremy Roberts, Brookline

As a young professional woman, I never listened to sports talk until I started listening to Madden. It's not just about relaying sports facts and trivia, it's also about entertaining. Mark is a great entertainer in addition to being sports savy. He had the guts to do more than straight forward vanilla reporting, which is what Smizik and the rest of the old school crew does. Mark's interview questions are always well thought out and interesting. I looked forward to his analysis. It's no wonder Pittsburgh is a ghost town when it comes to the younger generation(s). The people "in power" are clueless. If I could smack Smizik I would. What ever happened to giving the people what they want? Isn't this the era of customer satisfaction? Ratings proved that people were tuning in. I, however, will no longer be tuning in. Mark, I will miss you and I hope some other lucky station has the foresight to hire you.

Kathleen Shea, Pittsburgh

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I cannot say how THRILLED I am that this idiot is finally off the air. I just want to say, that I did not listen to him, because I did not want to give him the ratings. Sure, I would stop every once and a while, just to see what he was complaining about today, but never more than 15 or 20 seconds at a time. The guy was a waste of air time. I understand that being a complete moron and loud mouth was his shtick, and that's why so many people listened to him, but you can only take so much. He and Howard Stern would be great friends, one complains about his station, the other about his city. What gets me, is the people who say he was terrible, and they hated listening to him. The only reason that he STAYED on the air for so long was because of that! If the only reason that he stayed on the air was because people wanted to hear what he was going to say next, that is NO reason for him to have his own show. Now it's time we bring in someone who actually will make intelligent comments, and not just complain and complain and complain.

Dave DiCello, Mt. Lebanon

I listened to Mark Madden in my younger days, and I admit that he has a great sports mind and his act, while clearly not for everyone, is the highest rated sports talk show in Pittsburgh. But as I grew older, I found his shtick to be one-dimensional and frankly, shock jock sports talkers are a dime a dozen in radio these days. Making fun of Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, and even Myron Cope is one thing. Making a sick "joke" at the expense of a dying man with brain cancer is tasteless, crass and clearly out of bounds. It does not matter if the man's name was Kennedy. To those who complain that Madden was fired for his remarks, would you feel the same way if he had made those remarks about your father?? I would hope not. Free Speech does not only mean being able to spout off about anything you want, it also carries the responsibility of knowing where the line between acceptable humor and tasteless, inappropriate humor is and restraining oneself to keep from crossing it. if you cross that line, you risk paying the consequences. Madden crossed that line and got fired for it. Making fun of a person near death is NEVER acceptable. I am confident that Mark will find a gig somewhere. His talents would be best served on satellite radio. Now that Madden's gone, maybe I'll start listening to ESPN 1250 again. I'll take boring, stodgy sports talk over sound and fury signifying nothing any time.

Pierre R. Wheaton, Homewood

Madden should never have a place in any medium grounded in reality. He's a self-obsessed, childish boor. Maybe there's a place in fiction for him? "Pro" wrestling, in particular could use another loudmouth, self-aggrandizing buffoon that seemingly stalks beloved figures and other morons like himself with no sense of comportment or truth. Only Madden himself is above reproach, being a self-described "super genius".

His egregious statement on Sen. Kennedy is beyond words and ESPN is to be commended for getting rid of Madden.

Joe King, Wellsboro, PA

Mark Madden was the only reason why I started listening to "1250 ESPN" and though I like the other personalities like Junker and Crow, Mark Madden was the one I looked forward to listening to on a daily basis. It is disappointing to hear that he won't be on the air and I hope someone in the local market picks him up because thats where I'll tune in to if they do. And, to all the people that feel the need to rip Mark, you obviously listened to him and I imagine most of you continued to listen. If you didn't like what he had to say, you could have easily changed the station. Anyways Mark, Good Talk, See Ya Later.

Brad Palmer, Stanton Heights

What comes around goes around. Where is the self-proclaimed, super genius now ?

Patrick Kennedy, Crafton

I was never a fan of Mark Madden; I found his rude behavior toward callers incredibly grating. While I don't mind that he's now off the air, I wonder how much Bob Smizik is gloating after getting his archrival fired. He has written negative articles about Madden for years now, and finally his goal has been achieved. Congratulations, Mr. Smizik.

I also wonder if Madden would have been fired had these comments been about President Bush, rather than Kennedy. ESPN did not fire Dana Jacobsen, who made remarks highly offensive to Christians. This does not excuse Madden's remarks, which I found offensive, but it makes me again suspicious of ESPN's liberal bias.

Tommy Phillips, Plum, PA

I am not surprised that Mark Madden was finally removed from ESPN Radio. Madden's show was typical of ESPN personalities: arrogant, unnecessarily over the top and self-aggrandizing. However, he firing was not the result of anything he did, right? Just like his firing from Wrestling, The Post-Gazette, the Sunday Sports Showdown and Action Sports Sunday was not his fault. He got what he deserved. His show wasn't even that good and his ratings were the result of a lack of a viable alternative rather than his show's quality. I am glad to see him go (and I am in the demographic that his show targeted) and hope that his replacement is someone who actually can show some humility while being enjoyable and informative.

Brandon Dunn, Ross Twp.

How ironic Madden gets fired over words. Mark wasn't fired for breaking any laws, Mark wasn't fired for driving drunk, Mark wasn't fired because someone died. Mark was disgusting at times, but he knows more hockey and football than anyone else on the air in Pittsburgh.

This will turn out to be resume enhancement for Mark.

Max Anderson, Shaler

My name is Mike Brancewicz, and I'm 30 years old. To my parents, the Kennedy family is viewed as great American royalty. To me, they are a joke. Why is a president that cheated on his wife held is such high esteem? Why is a senator who left a woman to drown defended by so many? The Kennedy's are not off-limits, nor should they be. Leno and Carson made careers making fun of Ted Kennedy. Now that a sports talk host makes a joke (and a damn funny one at that) about them he is fired? ESPN should change it's call letters to JOKE 1250.

Also, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette dubs itself as "One of America's Great Newspapers". How can a great American newspaper allow some four-eyed, unfunny columnist to attack someone on such a personal level? No doubt the editors allowed this to happen, which just shows that the entire paper is prejudiced against one individual. How can a paper, one that should be impartial in such situations, allow this to happen? Oh I know. The paper is nothing better than a fishwrap. Shouldn't Smiz have been writing crappy columns about the Pirates? Why was he allowed to do this? How could you pay him to write personal attacks that belong in tabloids? Oh yeah, the PG is nothing but a crappy excuse for a tabloid.

It's a really sad day. Mark made my commute home. Say what you will about that, but it's true. He gave me one of the better hours of my day. It's a real shame that it came to this.

No doubt, Mark will rise again. Any station out there should be falling over themselves to get a hold of him. I only worry that ESPN has a no compete in his contract and we'll have to listen to Stan (been there done that) Savran.

Finally, please let Smizik's next column be the obituary for JOKE 1250. That station will be gone, or at least, very weakened in the next year. Long live MM. Long live Mr. 8.7.

Mark, one last time... Big fan, big fan.

Mike Brancewicz, Brookline, PA

Mark Madden's on air persona is not that of a nice person. I never understood why he was there.

Ed Belcher, Valley Grove, WV

Dumb comments? yes! But as stated.... If you don't like the program content, change the station! So now we'll have another vanilla sports talk show. Bad move espn !

Ray Pencosky, Carnegie, Pa.

I find it sad that the national network chose this action after the local management considered the issue resolved. If it were anyone but Ted Kennedy, it's likely that the dismissal would not have happened. Like him or not, Mark Madden was Pittsburgh's most interesting and entertaining on-air personality. ESPN 1250 will be losing a listener, just as the baseball and basketball centric corporate ESPN already had.

Christopher L. Stockdale, Washington, PA

Obviously, it doesn't need to be said, but ESPN just lost a lot of the Pittsburgh audience. Mark Madden was hilarious and I think the controversial comment was hilarious. If there are those that don't get his humor, then they don't have to listen, but why would ESPN choose to penalize those that do enjoy his show and his humor? Where's the logic in alienating your own audience?

Steve Quinn, Stanton Heights

I was a Madden fan at one time, but it's been years. His shows/columns started sliding away from insightful sports talk/commentary to bitter rants and personal attacks. He started believing his own hype and went from sports analyst to quasi-shock jock.

Please can the free speech blabber. This is an employer/employee relationship; it isn't a constitutional amendment issue. He's paid to do a job the way his employer wants him to do it. And don't forget that Mark was already on a sort of 'double secret probation' for past incidents.

Mark has the talent; maybe a fresh start will help him find it again.

Scott Gregg, Pittsburgh

Personally, I'm sorry to see this happen. The Kennedy comments were admittedly over the line and perhaps warranted dismissal, but overall I think Pittsburgh sports talk radio has suffered a tremendous blow. As a Steelers fan, I didn't like Madden's bashing of players like Hines Ward; I thought he took it way over the line, and I speculated he did it specifically to incite listeners, which didn't make it any better. But for all that, Madden had charisma, he was engaging, he was interesting. The high IQ he always boasted of was clear in his quick wit and sharp tongue, and I enjoyed listening to him - far more than anything or anyone else on Pittsburgh talk radio. There is no wonder why his ratings dwarfed everyone else - he was simply that much better. I will miss being able to listen to him, and I hope he catches on somewhere else (and learns to take it easy on Hines Ward).

Matthew Forbes (Cleveland)

I think it is ridiculous that people believe that Bob Smizik had anything to do with Mark Madden being fired. Do you honestly think a columnist in Pittsburgh has that kind of influence over the management of ESPN? Madden was fired because he violated the terms of his contract, as was clearly stated in the press release announcing the dismissal.

Smizik's comments have certainly shown a contempt for Madden's behavior. However, I can hardly blame him for calling out a peer for abusing the priviledges that come with being a member of the media. At least he had the guts to stand behind his comments instead of throwing them out there and then apologizing for them only when someone told him to do so.

AJ Smith, Pittsburgh

Well, I guess Smizek got what he wanted. Countless so-called columns have been written blasting Mark Madden over the last few years. Madden equals ratings and he had a strong loyal fan base. I listened to the show as much as I possibly could. Even though I didn't agree with everything he said, he was constantly amusing and made me laugh out loud numerous times on my drive home. Now, we'll have some boring replacement for him to listen to -- or not listen to.

ESPN is run by a bunch of Liberals. If Mark would have joked about Bush or Cheney he would still be employed. You will be missed Super Genius!

Michael Bella, Natrona Heights

When Mark took over the airwaves in the late 90's, he wasn't afraid to speak his mind. I remember him praising Barry Bonds and Neil O'Donnell, and thinking to myself that this guy was right on the money. Those are views I've had for years. The Pirates will never have another player like that and Stiller fans ran Neil out of town even though he led them to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1979. Madden had a different point of view that was refreshing to a lot of listeners.

This is a huge mistake by the company. A knee-jerk reaction to a comment made in jest which he later apologized for. I suppose the days of ridiculous political correctness are upon us. Enjoy. Try not to fall asleep on the parkway heading home today.

And by the way, I wonder what kind of columns Smizek will write now since Madden is gone. I guess he'll need some new material. Jim "Dutch" Colony, beware.

Clint Zvolenski, Moon Twp, PA

I couldn't agree with Brian Flory more. When I read Smizik's column on Thursday, his motivation was completely transparent. Why doesn't the PG look into why Smizik is writing non-sport related stories? What did the column have to do with what Smizik professes to cover? Smizik is everything that is wrong with Pittsburgh - he is a old guy that doesn't want any new ideas to flow through this city and when someone that is simply more popular, younger - and a better sports mind than him comes along - you get fearful. Smizik is no different than a lot of old "hangers on" in local businesses that simply cannot adapt but protect and justify their existence by being critical of new ideas. Fortunately he will soon go the way of those people, and the people he was upset that Madden criticized - Myron Cope, Dan Rooney, Arnold Palmer - they finally fade away. Unfortunately they stunt progress while they "hang on".

Pat Smith, Oakland

I am not surprised by Mr. Madden's dismissal. It was just a matter of time until his large mouth placed him into a precarious position that he would not have been able to extricate himself from. I was surprised however about the "milk-toast" response to his comments from 1250 ESPN station general manager Mike Thompson. Instead simply firing Madden, he takes Madden out to dinner to with the purpose of a gentle tap on the hands. I guess Thompson didn't want to lose a shock jock who brings in the listeners, and the ratings with his oft times abrasive methods. But, ESPN headquarters thought differently by giving Madden the heave-ho, and I won't be surprised if Thompson loses his job as well for the way he handled this latest Madden incident.

The Pittsburgh sports radio scene is more deserving of quality persons who know how to challenge and to ask the hard sports questions to get the hard sports answers, yet know know how to maintain tact and professionalism. The sports radio scene in Pittsburgh is also more deserving of individuals who will not put down the listener. It was unfortunate that Stan Savarin lost his radio show, thanks to a stupid move by FOX. He was the king of the 3PM slot in Pittsburgh in my honest opinion. He was a joy to listen to, and I would attribute Madden's 8.0 rating due to past listeners who once listened to Savarin yet having no choice but to listen to Madden. That's the position I found myself in as an avid sports radio listener.

The question now is what does 1250 ESPN do to fill the vacant Madden

slot? Here's a great suggestion. It's time for Joe Starkey of the Trib to get his own radio show. He is vastly more knowledgeable of the sports scene in Pittsburgh than Madden was. He has decorum, and knows how to push the envelope without going over the line. Mostly, Starkey doesn't insult people. He's too grown up for that. The times that I've heard Starkey fill in for Mister 8.7, I've wondered why he doesn't have his own radio show? 1250 ESPN would do itself justice by giving Starkey his due.

It's not only time for Starkey to shine but Jim Colony as well. The duo could be the "Junker and Crow" of the 3PM slot.

I don't think we've heard the last of Mark Madden. He'll probably end up on satellite radio somewhere with the likes of Howard Stern. That way no one can really touch him. He'll be able to talk hockey, talk about porn, and engage in a profanity laced tirades with the hapless sports listener who he'll try to make feel like they were 3 inches tall. There is also the little matter of Madden's column in the Beaver County Times. Will the Times follow suit and dismissed him like ESPN did?

Farewell Mister 8.7, we knew ye not by the size of your professionalism, but by the size of your mouth.

CB Price, State College, Pa.

Madden was the only reason that I turned my Sirius radio off at 3pm and switched back to terrestrial radio. Now I have no reason at all.

Dan Harrison, Verona, Pa

This is absolute absurdity. This political correctness has to stop. Apparently, the only folks who are able to partake in free speech are women and black people. Dana Jacobsen anyone?

The only people who didn't like Madden were Old people and as usual, young people, hockey fans and people who aren't obsessed with the Pittsburgh Steelers get the shaft. ESPN is going to suffer for this, but at least all the 80 year olds will be happy.

Jim Dunn, Penn Hills

Mark will be missed by his fans. It was a dumb comment but come on, change the dial if you do not want to hear him. Bob Smizek, its a shame that instead of talking about the Pens you had to write about Mark, who you are clearly jealous of. Mark was the only free radio personality that I occasionally listened to. Mr Madden belongs on Sirius or XM. He is too good for washed up, horrible free radio.

T.J. Betz, Whitehall

I am a 60 year old lifelong sports fan and Pittsburgh area resident that constantly craves sports news, especially Pirate and Steelers updates. However, it got to the point where, no matter how much I desired to follow the local sports scene, I refused to subject myself to the arrogant, self serving, rude and vulgar commentary routinely spewed by Mark Madden. I wondered many times, what a traveler to our fair city would think of "Us Burgers" if they happened tune to ESPN Radio only to hear his normally childish and always crude comments. He did not represent the area well and I am rejoicing now that he is gone. Hopefully all other local newspapers and radio stations will realize that he gave our city and surrounding area a black eye and let his self proclaimed genius move on to another calling that is not broadcasting or journalism. Another gig with professional wrestling circus seems to suit this clown well. The people of Pittsburgh have way too much class to be represented by such a Bozo.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

John A. Negich, Butler PA

Long overdue. The man was a disgrace to the city of Pittsburgh and I am offended that was allowed to be on the air as long as he was.

Michael Rodi, Bethel Park

I admit that I was never a big Mark Madden fan. But come on! He got fired for those comments? What ever happened to free speech? I've heard worse comments from other radio personalities and they're still on the air. I hate to see anyone fired for voicing their opinion. This is going to set a dangerous precedent.

James Geary from Pittsburgh

It is absolutely ridiculous that Mark Madden was fired for his comments concerning Senator Kennedy. These are no more over the top than any of the other statements he has made concerning popular political or sports figures. His criticism from the public community is largely a result of either taking him far too seriously - like the late Andy Kaufman, Madden unabashedly borrows from pro wrestling's "heel" personae to form his act - or attempting to confront him on the air and being humiliated. Those in the professional journalistic community have long wished for Madden's demise due to long standing jealousy at Madden's popularity. Madden makes many salient points during his broadcasts, and a careful listener can glean much from his take on things. That he does this in an unconventional manner grates on more traditional journalists. The gloating column of the reactionary-in-chief, Bob Smizik, was beyond the pale, though. I presume the PG would not permit Ann Coulter (if she were on the PG staff, which, given the PG's political bend is outlandish enough) to write Barack Obama's political obituary, should Senator Obama lose the election. Permitting Smizik to write the valedictory to Madden was a clear breach of journalistic standards (to the extent that term now or ever had any relevance).

No matter, I am certain Madden will be given an outlet on a local competitor or he will be yet another in a long list of people who have been driven by the city by the provincialism and jealousy of a vocal minority.

Christopher A. Coppula, Rockville, MD

They guy was an arrogant ignoramus who moaned and put down anybody to get attention. He is the Terrell Owens of sports talk.

In my opinion, Pittsburgh sports talk radio has never recovered since KDKA got rid of Thor Tolo.

Scott Irlbacher, Oxford, Ohio (formerly of Franklin Park)

This is a joke really...ESPN radio just lost a regular listener. Can't wait until Madden's back on the air.

Dave Fuller, North Hills

I find it really sad that someone of the stature of Bob Smizik, (no stature at all), feels the need to actively destroy entertaining sports talk. Then again, after reading the reader forum so far, maybe the PGs target demographic are old men that want to hear Bob make excuses for the Pirates day after day. This city is dying, and Smizik just gave it one more blow.

Brendan Smith, Brookline

Sure I had my differences with the man they call Big Sexy. In fact, during his first year on the job, I called into the show and he made fun of my first name. He said, "How many grown men call themselves Timmy?" I was really upset and vowed never to call him again. But over the past few years, I began to really appreciate Mark's expert commentary on sports in this town. He also knows the best dance clubs in town and also the best places to get a good hoagie. I think its a sad day in Pittsburgh. It will be very difficult to fill his shoes. But I wish Big Sexy all the luck in the world. He gained a friend in me. I just wish he met me instead of making fun of my name.

Timmy Wirchowski from Turtle Creek

The removal of Mark Madden from 1250 ESPN Radio is an absolute shame. Now maybe Bob Smizik can concentrate on writing his column about the Pirates or of course the Steelers. He can't write on hockey because he knows little at best about the game.

Mark's style was "new" and not "old school" and that is why some of the yinzers did not like his show but his ratings speak for themselves. If maybe half that many people read Smiziks article maybe he would be writing for a better paper than the Post Gazette.

Mark will no doubt land on his feet because he is knowledgable and entertaining at the same time. A double threat combination past sports talk show hosts in Pittsburgh have not had..hence the 8.3 rating!! I only hope he lands on his feet in Pittsburgh somehow so I can continue to enjoy that 4 hours of radio and so Smizik has something to write about other than the boring Pirate articles he produces.

Hang tough MM. Big fan,big fan!

Scott DuBrosky- Baldwin

I've just finished reading all of the posts regarding Madden's firing (he doesn't not deserve to addressed as Mr.) and he has his share of followers as well as detractors. I was not aware of his comments regarding Sen. Kennedy until now. For those of you who think it was a joke then I feel badly for you. First and foremost this is not a situation that deserves that sort of commentary. Secondly, his was a sports talk show, was it not? Or at least it was supposed to be. This was yet another in a long line of futile attempts at humor by Madden which backfired and ended up highlighting his stupidity. Oh yes, lest we forget he is the self-proclaimed genius with the tested IQ of 166. I would like to take that test to see what I would score. Finally, for those of you who hung on Madden's every word, Stan Savran is way better than Madden could ever think of being. His raucous style doesn't make up for the fact that he is opinionated whether he knows what he talks about or not. And a lot of this is predicated on the fan calling in knowing little or nothing about the particular sport he is calling about. Don't be mesmerized by this fool!!! As Jim Rome would say, that's it, "I'm out."

Ed Snively, Bridgeport, WV

I'm not sure if ESPN was justified in releasing Mark Madden. I did enjoy listening to his show from time to time and he did regularly bash people which was part of what made the show entertaining - when he kept it limited to sports figures (after all, he is a sport commentator and his remarks did get people to tune in and call the show - his ratings were remarkable).

However, when he made the assisination remark about Senator Ted Kennedy (a non-sports figure), he did cross the line. Did it warrant firing? I don't know. A suspension perhaps? Was he truly contrite about the remark or just apologized because of the station's urging?

I'm sure all of us has at one time or another said something stupid that we regretted later and firing him may be too severe a punishment. That being said, I don't believe we've heard the last of Mark Madden. He is very talented and somewhere down the line, I'm sure another station will scoop him up.

Linda Kruse, Pittsburgh, PA (Reserve Township)

As a sports fan, I didn't spend much time listening to Mark Madden. I would occasionally listen in the past, but the constant put downs become very old after a while. He enjoyed being hated, and did everything he could to be hated from all corners. In fact, he enjoys

reading this right now, although he's unemployed and in a small town. Back to the wrestling ring for some good old times Mark. Enjoy radio in Topeka.

Alan Remlinger, Beaver Falls

Everyone can agree that Madden will be missed. He was entertaining at times but usually he sounded like a WWE announcer trying to do sports talk, trying to say the most shocking, absurd thing possible to entertain the lowest common denominator. We don't need another cheerleader for Pittsburgh sports to replace Madden, but we don't need another Howard Stern wannabe either.

Glenn Forsyth, Plum Borough

I am glad he is gone, he is the worst talk show host ever, it was the only time of day I did not listen to 1250 AM on the internet. He thought he had some kind of power and took ouot is misery on his callers, I hope this makes way for a more productive show such as the Junker and Crow show

Eric Nordstrom, Arlington, Texas






My name is Bryan Flory of Imperial, and I think that it is absurd that Mark Madden was removed from 1250 ESPN. Mr. Madden's comments may have crossed the line about Sen. Ted Kennedy, but he did apologize later in his show last Wednesday for his comments. Originally, nothing was going to happen to Mr. Madden, although his station manager told him that his comments were unacceptable. Then, Post Gazette columnist Bob Smizik, who feuded with Madden regularly over the past few years, wrote a column regarding Madden going too far. Days later, Madden was fired by corporate ESPN in Bristol, CT., not 1250 ESPN here in Pittsburgh. I believe that the goal of Smizik's column was to finally get Madden fired, and you, sir, got your wish. Why else would Smizik right his column about Mark Madden the day before the Stanley Cup Finals begin? Shouldn't he have written about that? Now ESPN radio has lost the highest rated sports talk show host in Pittsburgh history. They have lost the face of Pittsburgh talk radio, the Super Genius, Mr. 8.7, the voice and choice of Pittsburgh talk radio, etc. While Madden continuously pushed the line, he was a phenomenal entertainer, and will truly be missed. ESPN radio will not be the same without him. Hey Mark, big fan, big fan.

Bryan Flory, Imperial, PA

BRAVO ESPN, it is about time that this loud-mouthed, trashy mouth commentator was removed from the air. I dare say that I am one of the biggest fans of ESPN, but long ago I stopped listening to the local station in the afternoon. Thank you ESPN for taking this action, there are many in this area who could to a wonderful job in the afternoon. I remember listening to a talk-show host on a Canonsburg station a few years back, his last name escapes me at this time, but I know his first name was Paul, alias 'the commish'. If he is still in the area he would be the perfect fit in this spot.

Bill Bodnar, Upper St. Clair

I'm sure Smizik had something to do with this with his unrelenting and blatant jealousy of Mark. The thing that I find most shocking is that for all the homophobic, and sexist things he has said in the past this is what he gets fired over. If the other things were allowed to pass I don't see how this could really be a firing offense. I was a big fan and no longer have any reason to listen to ESPN radio. It was an off color joke but I thought it was obvious that he was making light of what Hillary Clinton had said. None the less I am disappointed and hope the he finds his way back onto the radio soon. (This part is to Mark....Big Fan, Big Fan)

Mark Brasacchio , Mt.Lebanon

It was just a joke. Not one of his funnier ones, but just a joke. It's a shame that he was let go.

So they remove a guy from the air that had good ratings. Meaning that a lot of people found him entertaining. If you don't like him, change the station. Does this mean we now have to be subjected to more guys like the underlings on ESPN radio, Chris Mack and Ken Laird. Two little clone no-talents? Oh god.

BTW, Guy & Eddie far exceed the quality of the old "Stan & Guy" show. I hope they stay together.

But please folks, talking about freedom of speech? Mark was and is free to say whatever he wants. But that doesn't mean ESPN is under any obligation to continue to pay him to be on their airwaves if they don't approve of the job he's doing. Freedom of speech has nothing to do with being able to say what you want via someone else's medium.

Rob Kenworth from Canonsburg

Good riddance! The sad part is that now some other market will surely be subjected to his hate filled verbiage and, for that, we in Pittsburgh apologize. Assassination comments aside, his commentaries SHOULD have gotten him canned years ago. Bye Bye, idiot.

Bob Bennett, Lauderdale By The Sea FL

Madden's vitriol and bombast fused with self-deprecating humor and legitimate interviews/guests were exactly why we tuned in and thus why 1250 ESPN was able to demand the rates they charged advertisers. With no public backlash resultant from this off color comment, what would be served by denying Bristol the revenue and the fans a few hours of sports talk that breaks with the status quo? Now we get to go back to formulaic, monotone rehashing of what I can just read in the morning paper. You just lost the portion of the demographic that has a pulse (or is a Penguins fan).

Enzo Ruppolo, Miami Beach, FL

I live in San Antonio, Texas so I don't hear him often because of the time difference since I'm still at work. I tuned in on my computer every so often and I thought he was entertaining. No worse than Rome.

The thing I didn't like was that he would never talk about the Pirates and although they are not any good, I'm a lifelong fan. When he did talk about them it would be a one sentence negative about how stupid the fans are to go to the games. Then he'd jump right back on the Penguins. I like to see them win, but since all I see in San Antonio is AHL, I don't really follow it anymore. The NBA, I never heard him say anything which since Pittsburgh doesn't have a team, maybe that is understandable.

I do think he will land on his feet. He can play kind of the same game and just needs to learn about where the line is. Jim Rome knows now after he got his butt kicked by Jim "Chris" Evertt.

Charlie Peck, San Antonio, TX

Mark Madden's radio persona was rude & offensive, no doubt. While his comments about Ted Kennedy were inappropriate the punishment does not fit the crime. Madden's departure will leave a HUGE void in Pittsburgh talk radio and WEAE will be hard pressed to find a replacement for the dangerously entertaining Mark Madden.

Double M, wherever you are, I'm with you. I can't wait to set the #1 preset button on my radio to the station that takes the opportunity to put Madden back on the airwaves.

DL Franty, Peters Township

I think it's a shame that someone who is a total bore like Bob Smizik is allowed to voice his opinions yet Mark Madden is not. The Post Gazette should be ashamed for employing someone who is basically a witch hunter. If Smizik didn't like listening to MM then he should have had someone change the radio station for him. We had many choices when it came to sports talk radio in Pittsburgh so if you didn't like MM turn the station and listen to the other boring sports talk shows and leave Mr. 8.7 alone. One last time for MM - Big Fan, Big Fan!

Tony Ross, Murrysville

I find it interesting that the reporter covering this story has had a recent personal feud with Madden. However, Mr. Smizik didn't seem to have any problems with Madden's outlandish behavior when he was getting paid by ESPN 125o to do commentaries. Hmm, I wonder if there is any concidence in Smizik's zest to report all the distasteful things Madden said and Smizik's own dismissal from 1250?

Madden was over the top, but interesting radio, as the ratings proved. You need No-Dose to listen to that guy on 970 since Benz left. Good Luck, Mark!! You will be missed.

Kurt Mathias, Shaler

Sorry to break the news but corporate-owned radio stations are not intended to be harbors of free speech.

Wade Thrower, Canonsburg

I think this is a real shame. I wasn't Madden's biggest fan, and I often times switched over the radio when I found his act too much. That said, I did enjoy the entertaining approach he brought to the local waves. The fact that he took the local sports teams to task, including Michael Therrien and the Penguins (despite the thoughts otherwise), made him less of a bore than most other people on the air.

I am not certain what Mr. Madden's contract language dictated, but I'll venture to guess that this matter will be decided by litigation in the court system. On the surface, it certainly does appear that his 1st Amendment right has been infringed upon.

Nick Andreychek, Robinson, PA

It is disturbing that the Post-Gazette permitted Bob Smizik to use his column as a vehicle to further his ongoing personal vendetta against Mark Madden. I don't even like Mark Madden, though I admit that I listened to his show because he was entertaining. I am a democrat, and a big supporter of Ted Kennedy's, yet I did not find Madden's comments offensive because I recognized them for what they were. Bob Smizik did as well I'm sure, yet he used them as an opportunity to pressure Madden's employers to remove him, and this paper was complicit in his actions.

Aaron Rihn, Allison Park



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