Shane Riordan’s absence is telling, but The Score isn’t talking

The executive producer of the “Parkins & Spiegel” show has been off the air since Friday, a day after he made lewd and crude remarks on the air.

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Regular listeners of the “Parkins & -Spiegel” show on The Score surely have noticed a voice is missing.

Executive producer Shane Riordan has been off the air since Friday, a day after he made lewd and crude remarks on the air. They didn’t reach the level of a Federal Communications Commission violation, but they were offensive enough that Riordan is believed to have been punished. The Score hasn’t made any statements.

A spokesperson from station owner Audacy said, “We have no comment on last week’s incident at The Score.” Riordan also declined to comment and hasn’t tweeted since Thursday.

The conversation that afternoon began with Danny Parkins discussing a clip from Fox Sports’ “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” on Wednesday in which Cowherd disagreed with co-host Jason McIntyre’s statement that Chicago is “like a war zone right now. It’s like Afghanistan.”

Matt Spiegel then pointed out that Riordan responded to McIntyre on Twitter. Riordan had posted, “Keep Chicago out of your [expletive] mouth.” That tweet led conservative-talker WIND morning co-host Dan Proft, in agreement with McIntyre, to bad-mouth Riordan and The Score on the air and on Twitter.

Riordan then played a clip of Proft’s diatribe from his show in which he demeaned Riordan, his colleagues and the Chicago press corps at large. Riordan responded with his own demeaning remarks toward Proft but also made a rational argument defending Chicago’s reputation.

Up to that point, the back-and-forth was reminiscent of an old-school radio war, but in a modern context of right vs. left. No one had crossed a line until Riordan said, “Dan, I’ll have sex with your mother.”

And everyone laughed.

“Dan Proft, you bring your mother over here, I’ll [have sex with] her,” Riordan said. “I don’t care, dude.”

It’s all fun and games until someone mentions someone’s mother. And in this case, the mother is dead. But the 16-minute segment is exactly what former station boss Jimmy de Castro didn’t want to hear anymore when he revamped The Score’s lineup in March 2018, telling hosts to “play the hits” — a k a stick to sports, a mantra programming heads Mitch Rosen and Ryan Porth still impress upon the hosts. Parkins’ promotion to afternoons was part of that revamp.

To be sure, Proft is no angel. The phony newspapers he helped publish that populated mailboxes during election season were an offense to journalism. They were rife with misinformation and sensationalism and exploited the First Amendment rights real newspapers hold dear. And he showed his true colors by picking a fight in which he wasn’t even involved.

But “Parkins & Spiegel” took the bait, and Riordan paid the price. His name isn’t in the show’s title, but there are times when you’d think otherwise. Perhaps he’ll pick his spots — and his words — more carefully.

Parkins and Spiegel remained on the air while Riordan was off, but they helped make this mess, laughing at his crudeness. It was a bad look for them, too. The Score’s failure to address the executive producer’s absence doesn’t help. But Parkins said on the air Wednesday that the show’s crew would be back together Thursday.

There have been questions about the situation on social media, and listeners are owed an explanation. Being transparent and admitting mistakes were made could’ve nipped this in the bud. Granted, that’s not easy to do, but it removes the specter hovering over the show.

“Parkins & Spiegel” is Chicago’s top-rated afternoon sports show in the key demographic for a reason, and it’s because, as I’ve written, “stuff happens on that show.” But the stuff that happened last week can’t happen. Not anymore. The shock-jock era is long over. Words matter.

Chicago is an incredible sports town with tons to talk about. Yes, hosts will veer down other paths during a four-hour show, whether it’s food, movies, music, whatever. The path “Parkins & Spiegel” chose that day was wrong, and it gave voice to a person most don’t want to hear.

Hearing that admission from the show would put this all to rest.

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