Pittsburgh Radio Host Who Drove a Priest to Suicide Is in Trouble Again

Image via Flickr/Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

By Cassandra Stone

May 13, 2020

This isn’t the first time Marty Griffin has misgendered a transgender person.

KDKA Radio talk show host Marty Griffin is in hot water after he misgendered Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, who is transgender, multiple times during a press call on Tuesday. 

Griffin repeatedly called Dr. Levine “sir” during a weekly media call with at least 70 members of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA). At one point, Dr. Levine corrected him: “Please don’t misgender me, it’s really insulting.” 

Griffin’s actions have drawn backlash for the entire radio station. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has canceled a pre-scheduled interview with another reporter for KDKA Radio, saying he will “not support” the station.

Fellow journalists also criticized Griffin for his actions. “What an absolute embarrassment to the western Pennsylvania press corps,” tweeted Chris Potter of WESA-FM.

According to another reporter on the call, Griffin apologized after being corrected. He later apologized again via Twitter, saying “It was not intentional” and that he “was not focused” during the call. 

His apology wasn’t enough for some Pennsylvanians, who are now taking to Twitter and calling on KDKA Radio to reprimand or fire Griffin. The controversial radio host has a negative history with the LGBTQ community, and this isn’t his first time misgendering a transgender person.

Local Pittsburgh blog 2 Political Junkies reports Griffin misgendered Chelsea Manning in 2014, referring to the former Army solider as “Mr. Bradley” and “Mr. Manning” repeatedly on air. At one point, Griffin even said Manning had a “bizarre sex-change thing” going on. Manning came out as trans in 2013. 

Griffin also came under fire in 2007 for a KDKA-TV news segment in which he allegedly attempted to out a local Presbyterian minister as gay and a patron of an adult bookstore. Brent Dugan, the much-beloved and long-time minister of Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, committed suicide after learning of the pending story.

Griffin’s teasers for the story claimed KDKA had “uncovered illicit, possibly illegal activity by a local minister, activities which at the very least violate the rules of his denomination.” Griffin’s story was set to air at 11 p.m. on Nov. 2, but KDKA pulled the story after learning Dugan was “possibly a danger to himself.” By then, it was too late. 

Dugan was found dead by suicide on Nov. 3. While the promos for the story didn’t make it clear what Dugan had allegedly done “wrong”—other than visiting an adult bookstore—the damage had already been done, according to members of his congregation.

The segment never aired, and friends and family told the Pittsburgh City Paper that Dugan was likely unaware the station had pulled the story. 

Griffin left KDKA’s television station in 2018. He now hosts KDKA Radio’s weekday programming from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Griffin’s colleague at the station, Wendy Bell, has also faced backlash for her pandemic reporting after she recently questioned whether it was worth shutting down the economy to “save less than one percent of our population” from the coronavirus.

Mayor Peduto expressed his frustration with Griffin, Bell, and KDKA Radio as of late. “Growing up, KDKA had good people who made us proud to be from Pittsburgh. Now, it shock-jocks, sensationalism, and worse.”

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