Susannah Collins firing shows how tenuous broadcasting careers can be

by Kent Sterling

Managers of television and radio stations sometimes stand by their staff when upper management calls for action.  Then again, sometimes they don’t.

The folks at Comcast Sports Chicago acted quickly when reporter Susannah Collins used the word ‘sex’ instead of ‘success’, as in “the Blackhawks have had a tremendous amount of sex during the regular season.”

That slip prompted someone to look onto Collins past work, which included a role in a series of spoof sports reports, that combine a lack of humor with a bounty of offensive language and anti-semetic references.  She was fired – and quickly.

I doubt the language in “Sports Nutz” bothered anyone in suits, and have no idea whether the anti-semetic rhetoric offended the wrong person.  The crime of the series was that it was porn quality without sex.

Collins’ firing underscores what managers loathe most in their day – noise.  They don’t like the phone ringing, regardless of whose on the other end.  Whether viewers call to complain or upper management want answers, the phone ringing is never good.

In this case, my educated guess is that the person who hired Collins was alerted to the series of unfunny and crude videos by someone on the staff who saw the ‘sex’ gaffe and found it eerily reminiscent of ‘Sports Nutz.’

The manager, who has likely sat through dozens of hours of seminars on why and how to fire someone, played it safe by forwarding the youtube link to upper management, who fears bad publicity and potential actionable behavior more than anything else.

Managers are especially keen to prevent behavior that might have been expected by a reasonable person.  Collins performances in the videos would make any skittish suit suspect repeat performances.

To not fire Collins when they did could have put the job of the manager in peril if there was a repeat episode, and that is when managers call HR to get the ball rolling quickly on dismissal.

While being punted has no doubt been unpleasant for Collins, this is the best thing that could ever have happened for her – minus the anti-semetic remarks.  Not only are they offensive and not funny, they are potentially off-putting to a significant portion of the people who do the hiring and firing in media.

The positive is that everyone in media has taken a look at her work, and there is no doubt she is very good on-camera talent.  After all the hubbub dies down, she’ll get another gig, and probably a better one.


4 thoughts on “Susannah Collins firing shows how tenuous broadcasting careers can be

  1. Doug B

    Her co host on SportsNutz and the founder of the series are both Jewish. Anti-Semitic remarks is a real stretch. Give me a break.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I did not find the references to Israel as Palestine as funny at all. The point is, there is offensive to me and you, and then offensive to bosses. If you want a career in media, offending people with racist, sexist, and religious insensitivity is not a good strategy.

      That you don’t find it offensive is fine, but until you are an employer, it doesn’t matter.

  2. bill deen

    why so touchy? I do believe a map before 1947 will show that it did indeed used to be Palestine. I live in Texas which used to be Mexico but I don’t get upset if somebody jokingly reminds us but for the Alamo we would indeed be living in Mexico.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Nice relevant parallel. The Texans and Jewish are two people who have struggled for millennia. “Where’s your Messiah now, ya’ll?”


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