Don Geronimo, a polarizing radio figure who spent several years on the air in Sacramento before moving his self-titled show to the nation’s capital, was fired this weekend over controversial comments made on a recent program.
In a statement, a spokesperson for iHeartMedia confirmed Geronimo — whose legal name is Michael Sorce — was terminated after he made disparaging comments about WUSA-TV (Channel 9, CBS) sports reporter Sharla McBride, including referring to the broadcaster as “Barbie girl” and “that chick.”
The comments were made during a broadcast on Thursday that originated from the training camp of the Washington Commanders football team. Following the show, officials with the Commanders notified WBIG (100.3 FM) and iHeart that Geronimo and his team were no longer allowed to produce their show from the team’s training camp facilities.
Geronimo was set to air an interview on Friday with Josh Harris, the new majority owner of the Commanders. The interview, which was taped earlier in the week, never broadcast on the station.
“When I heard the comments made about me on their radio show, I felt incredibly insulted and embarrassed,” McBride said in a statement on Friday. “In my 17 years as a professional journalist, I have never been disrespected in such a blatant manner while trying to do my job. Their words were sexist and misogynistic. No woman should experience this in the workplace, and I appreciate the Commanders’ swift response in handling this matter.”
The situation put iHeartMedia in a precarious situation: Last year, the company signed a three-year deal for WBIG to be the exclusive home of the Commanders’ radio broadcasts.
“After an internal review, Don Geronimo is no longer an employee of WBIG,” Aaron Hyland, the regional president for iHeartMedia in the Washington, D.C. area, said in a statement on Sunday. “We take matters of this nature very seriously, and this behavior does not align with our core values.”
In a statement of his own, Geronimo said he was choosing not to comment about the situation, saying he was “consulting with my advisors as to my options moving forward, including an accurate reflection of the situation.”
Geronimo, 64, started his broadcast career at a radio station in Maryland before ultimately moving to WLS-FM (94.7 FM) in Chicago. He was hired by Washington, D.C. station WAVA (105.1 FM) in the mid-1980s.
He moved around from station to station until 2010, when CBS Radio named Geronimo their permanent afternoon host on sports-oriented KHTK (1140 AM). His broadcasts rarely featured sports commentary, and it struck a nerve with Tom Couzens, the Sacramento Bee’s sports columnist, who regularly criticized Geronimo in the newspaper.
The situation between Geronimo and Couzens made headlines in other newspapers when the newspaper columnist left threatening and harassing voicemails on Geronimo’s phone. Geronimo played the messages on-air, which Couzens denied having any involvement in.
Couzens ultimately confessed to the calls after Geronimo provided another reporter with proof that the messages originated from Couzens’ phone.
That situation aside, Geronimo’s time in Sacramento was relatively successful, with his show among the top-rated news and talk programs in the region. His popularity led to regular on-air appearances on KMAX-TV (Channel 31) and its flagship morning program, “Good Day Sacramento.”
In 2011, Geronimo was named program director for KHTK and his show moved from afternoons to the morning drive time slot. His contract was extended to 2014, upon which his show would move back to afternoons.
In 2013, Geronimo announced his program would end in Sacramento, and that he would be doing another project with CBS Radio in the future. The project saw him return to the D.C. area, where he broadcast for one year on WJFK (106.7 FM) before announcing his retirement from that station.
For several years, Geronimo self-produced a show that was distributed through the podcast network PodGod. In 2021, iHeartMedia offered Geronimo a contract two years ago to return permanently to the airwaves in D.C., with his show relaunching on WBIG.
Last year, iHeartMedia and the Commanders announced a multi-year deal to move the Commanders radio broadcasts from WTEM (980 AM) to WBIG, which was touted as a move intended to give Commanders games more exposure on an FM radio station. The deal was extensively detailed on Geronimo’s WBIG show.
“It’s an opportunity for us to have a bigger reach, to get our message out as to who we’re trying to become,” Ron Rivera, the head coach of the Commanders, said on an episode of the program. “We’re trying to establish a new culture and get this football team going in the right direction. It’s been a while, we need to get back on top, and just knowing we can reach so many more fans, I’m excited about it.”