In the end, radio host Kevin Kietzman couldn’t overcome the outrage stirred by comments he made about Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his family during his Monday afternoon show on WHB (810 AM).
Union Broadcasting announced Friday afternoon that it had reached a mutual agreement to part ways with Kietzman, a part-owner and key on-air personality at the station who had been suspended since Tuesday.
“We would like to thank Kevin for his dedicated service over the last 22 years,” Union Broadcasting president Chad Boeger said in a statement. “Kevin has been a valuable member of the Sports Radio 810 WHB team. We wish him all the best on his future endeavors and good luck moving forward.”
On his “Between The Lines” program Monday, Kietzman said this when talking about Reid and how he has managed players’ off-field issues: “It did not work out particularly well in his family life and that needs to be added to this as we’re talking about the Chiefs. He wasn’t real great at that either. He’s had a lot of things go bad on him: family and players. He is not good at fixing people.”
Kietzman later denied that he was referring to Reid’s son Garrett, who died in 2012 at age 29 of heroin overdose, but listeners believed otherwise. Some boycotted the station, and the story quickly went national. Kietzman issued a 2 minute, 19 second apology for his comments.
In a statement Friday, Kietzman said: “It’s been my honor and privilege to host Between the Lines for the past 22 years and I’m proud of being a founding partner of this great local company that is so committed to our community.”
Friday’s news was a stunning turn of events for Kietzman, who had been a major player in local media for decades.
Kietzman had spent a decade at WDAF-TV (Ch. 4) as a sports reporter and anchor before joining Boeger at KCTE-AM (1510 AM) in 1997. While there, Kietzman made national headlines in 1999 when he organized a protest over the disparity in Major League Baseball salaries and led fans in a walkout at Kauffman Stadium during a Royals-Yankees game.
“They’ve got a dirty little secret in baseball,” Kietzman told CBS at the time. “(It is) that they can’t hurt the game. It’s a great game no matter what they do. They are wrong.”
Five months later, Kietzman was part of a group of investors who bought WHB in September 1999 and converted the station to an all-sports format. Others who were part of that group included Boeger, former Royals pitcher Jeff Montgomery and outfielder Brian McRae. Kietzman quickly turned “Between The Lines” into one of the most popular radio programs in Kansas City.
The Pitch wrote in 2001 that “Kietzman has hosted the highest-rated locally produced afternoon show since he unseated Don Fortune as Kansas City’s king of sports-talk radio in 1999.”
Kietzman had his fair share of critics through the years and rubbed some listeners the wrong way. It was telling, perhaps, that few stepped up to defend him publicly after his comments about Reid’s family. In fact, he was criticized by Steven St. John, his colleague at WHB, on Thursday, one day after Kietzman had gone on two television programs in an effort to repair the damage.
Nevertheless, Kietzman’s departure left some surprised.
“Look I know what the replies will be. I take no joy in anyone losing a job ever. I understand he is a polarizing person but Kevin has always been good to me and I’m sorry it ended this way,” Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com tweeted. “The real lesson is this: Kietzman was an institution in Kansas City sports and it was all undone in 25 seconds. Words matter. Spoken, written, typed, whatever. Choose them carefully.”
Carrington Harrison of KCSP (610 AM), whose “The Drive” show was up against Kietzman’s in the 2-6 p.m. weekday slot, said Friday on air: “We don’t really make it a business point to talk a whole lot about what they’re doing over there, but if it’s going to be this big of news and for 22 years, he has been the soundtrack to some you guys’ afternoons, you flip back and forth and I get all that, I’m stunned that this was the conclusion of this story.”