- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Springfield radio station employee has quit after refusing to back down from his suggestion that the on-air killings of two Virginia journalists were a hoax.

Part-time telephone screener Rick Kennedy, who goes by the on-air name Rick Masters, told the Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/1NHdTfu ) that the shooting was probably faked “to create more conversation about gun laws.” The newspaper reported that he also described his reasons for quitting in a 1,016-word Facebook post.

The initial comments were made during an Aug. 30 discussion between call-in show host Joe Rios and Kennedy on the Sunday morning show called “Cracker Barrel,” which airs on KTTS-FM, KSGF-FM and KSGF-AM.

Kennedy and Rios said their suspicions about the Aug. 28 shooting, during which Vester Flanagan opened fire on his former co-workers during a live interview, were spurred by videos that had been posted on the Internet. Kennedy said he believed the shooting was a hoax and that others should decide for themselves.

The E.W. Scripps Company, which owns the stations, issued an apology for the segment, and both Kennedy and Rios were suspended.

Stations manager Rex Hansen confirmed last week that Kennedy had quit. Hansen didn’t immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker were killed in the shooting, and the woman Parker was interviewing, Vicki Gardner, was wounded. Flanagan fatally shot himself five hours later after a police chase.

Kennedy said he’s looking for another job in radio.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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