Photo courtesy of Scott Torgerson
Scott “The Torg” Torgerson apologized and tried to show remorse, but it was too little, too late.
Torgerson, former co-host of “The Common Man & The Torg” radio show on Columbus’ WBNS 97.1 The Fan, was fired Wednesday as a result of an Oct. 13 tweet in which he wished death on ESPN college football analyst and former Michigan football star Desmond Howard. Torgerson and his laywer, Columbus attorney Joe Edwards, said they believe the firing was unlawful and will consider legal action as well as an investigation into ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit’s potential role in the firing.
From 97.1 The Fan’s Twitter account, @971thefan, the station announced the firing, tweeting: “Scott Torgerson is no longer employed by our company as of today. We appreciate his contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
In an email interview with The Lantern, Torgerson said he did not initially expect to be terminated but eventually started to “hear a few things” and began to suspect it.
On Friday, The Fan offered Torgerson the opportunity to resign “with a small severance,” but he declined, opting instead to request to be allowed back on the air at a Monday meeting.
“I would have had to sign an agreement not to ever talk about this and could not take legal action,” Torgerson said. “The other option was termination with no severance or insurance. They gave me that option Friday and gave me the weekend to think it over. I showed up Monday for our meeting and told them I want to go back on the air. They told me that wasn’t an option. I received a termination letter (Wednesday).”
From his Twitter account, @myguythetorg, Torgerson tweeted on Oct. 13: “I wish Desmond Howard would get fired or die so I can watch ‘GameDay’ again.”
Torgerson later issued an apology via Twitter, tweeting: “My Desmond Howard tweet was a joke.” He said he maintains the position that the tweet was a joke, and added that he reached out to Herbstreit and ESPN college football analysts and former OSU football player Chris Spielman to apologize.
“(Herbstreit and Spielman) work for ESPN and I am sure it wasn’t a good situation for them. I think everyone who listens or knows me knows it was a joke,” Torgerson said. “Now I have to deal with the (punishment) for my actions. I just don’t feel firing me is a way to handle it. I was employee of the quarter the Friday before. I would think being the sports director, strong ratings, and the income I have made for the station, that deserves a second chance.”
The Fan did not respond to The Lantern‘s multiple requests for comment on Wednesday. Josh Krulewitz, vice president of communications for ESPN, declined to immediately respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment.
Edwards, who knew Torgerson prior to the Oct. 13 tweet and was hired as counsel for the firing, agreed, saying he feels it was an unjust firing.
Edwards told The Lantern he didn’t think 97.1, which is owned by the Dispatch Media Group, “had just cause in discharging” Torgerson.
“He’s now fired. He had a job where he was doing very well, had very high ratings, was very well-liked in the Central Ohio market and now all of the sudden he doesn’t have a job. So we’re going to explore filing a lawsuit against the station and anybody else that was involved in his discharge.”
Torgerson had between a year and a year-and-a-half remaining on his agreement with The Fan, Edwards said, and part of a potential investigation of his client’s firing could involve Herbstreit.
Edwards, who emphasized that he can’t be sure if Herbstreit played any role in his client’s firing, said he could choose to investigate Herbstreit for “tortious interference,” or interfering with Torgerson’s contract.
“At some point in time, we would like to know how Scott ended up getting fired and, at some point in time, what Mr. Herbstreit said, who did he say it to and why did he say it,” Edwards said. “That’s our interest – why did 97.1 The Fan fire Scott? And I know that Kirk Herbstreit did a radio show – his radio show on 97.1 – on Oct. 15 where he went off on Scott Torgerson. And we’d like to know, you know, did he talk to anybody else at the station? Did he call any people in management? What did he say? Why did he say that?”
Torgerson said his wife, Lauren Torgerson, has been crying for days, but the couple has maintained some semblance of a sense of humor – in a nod to one of Scott Torgerson’s familiar jokes about firings, she suggested he work at a Citgo gas station for a couple of weeks.
“I may do it,” Scott Torgerson said.
In the mean time, Scott Torgerson said he appreciates the support he’s received from fans.
“Just to the listeners … Their support has been unreal. Someone created a ‘Save The Torg’ Facebook page and in 10 days it has more “likes” than the 97.1 site,” he said. “The ‘Save the Torg’ has over (8,000), (97.1 has) under 5,400. I would have to say the listeners have spoken. They want me back and I want to be back.
“I am sorry for what I did. I feel I have paid a huge price and I want to be back on air.”