- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The manager of three southwest Missouri radio stations has apologized and disciplined a pair of talk show personalities for suggesting that the on-air killings of two Virginia journalists was a hoax.

The comments were made during an Aug. 30 discussion between call-in show host Joe Rios and his telephone screener, Rick Masters, the Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/1L1zC1t ) reports. The Sunday morning show called “Cracker Barrel” airs on KTTS-FM, KSGF-FM and KSGF-AM.

Stations manager Rex Hansen said one of the employees indicated he believed the shooting was a hoax “to the degree that there might have been some thinking that it was intended to influence gun laws, so they fabricated the event.” Hansen issued an on-air apology last week saying the comments were “disrespectful and downright wrong.” Rios and Masters don’t have listed numbers and couldn’t be reached for comment about the incident.

Hansen said both employees were suspended, although he didn’t provide the lengths of their suspensions. He didn’t immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The controversy arose four days after Vester Flanagan opened fire on his former co-workers during a live interview. WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker were killed. The woman she was interviewing, Vicki Gardner, was wounded. Flanagan fatally shot himself five hours later after a police chase.

“Well, unfortunately two people died. The camera man and his anchor partner. That was a fact,” Hansen said in explaining why the stations, which are owned by the E.W. Scripps Company, found the remarks inappropriate.

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

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