Station owner says disc jockey’s e-mails violated policy; “‘Justin Tyme’ says he was fired because he’s gay
A gay Amarillo disc jockey claims he was fired recently because of a posting on his MySpace page that suggested he would be open to sexual encounters with men.
“Justin Tyme” Pascullo, 33, said he believes Tejas Broadcasting fired him from his job at KBZD Energy 99.7 because he is gay. But the company’s chief denied that the action was based on the disc jockey’s sexual orientation. Company officials claim Pascullo was fired because the MySpace page was linked to business e-mails in violation of company policy.
The disc jockey was fired on Jan. 22 after working there for about five months.
Pascullo said he first learned he was in trouble from the station’s general manager on Jan. 18. Four days later, Chuck Brooks, one of the station’s owners, fired him he said.
“The first thing that was said to me was, “‘He’s saying you are promoting homosexual activity and gay sex,’” Pascullo said in a telephone interview. “I know I was fired because I was gay and not because of what was on the MySpace page.”
Pascullo’s MySpace profile included the comment, “Yes, I like girls, and yes, I like boys too who gets to sleep with me when I close the door shouldn’t be of any concern to you. But if you want to find out, take me to dinner, don’t buy me any alcohol, and see if you are one of the chosen to experience an intimate night with Justin Tyme.”
Pascullo said that even though the profile indicated that he is bisexual, he is actually gay.
Pascullo said he believes the company’s owner, who also owns radio stations in Corpus Christi, is trying to avoid controversy by denying that the firing had anything to do with his sexual orientation.
“The story has changed now,” Pascullo said. “He’s saying I wasn’t fired because I was gay because it is causing a big problem. But I know I was.”
The Amarillo Globe News published a story about Pascullo’s firing on the front page of its Sunday business section on Jan. 28.
In a statement provided by e-mail, Brooks denied that Pascullo was fired because he is gay.
“Justin’s firing had nothing to do with his sexuality; in fact, I did not even know he was gay until after he was terminated,” Brooks said. “It had everything to do with him violating company policy.”
Brooks said he agreed that the language on Pascullo’s MySpace page was mild, compared to some of the remarks that can be heard on-the-air at various radio stations.
“It is pretty tame compared to what you hear on some radio stations, but not on one of my stations,” Brooks said. “This is the type of content on some stations that get them into trouble with the FCC.”
Pascullo said the station’s general manager, with whom he had worked previously at another radio station, refused an order from Brooks to fire him. But although the general manager, who is straight, supported him initially, he has since quit returning his phone calls, he said.
“I’m assuming they have told him not to talk with anybody,” Pascullo said. “What he did for me last week about not firing me says a lot as it is. He put himself on the line.”
Pascullo said he removed the e-mail links to his MySpace page and in an e-mail pleaded with Brooks, who would not take his phone calls, not to fire him. In response, he received an e-mail on Jan. 20 advising him that he was being fired, he said.
Pascullo said he worked for two more days over the weekend and was officially fired on Monday morning.
“I was also greeted by Amarillo Police Department on a claim that I sabotaged company files, music files and software programs essential to operations,” Pascullo said.
Pascullo said company officials were unfamiliar with the broadcasting equipment and unable to operate it without his help.
“I helped them restore old data and the bare minimum to coast through that day and keep the police off my back,” he said. “The whole ordeal was emotional, to say the least.”
Pascullo said that although it is not illegal to fire someone because they are gay, he is hoping to find some other way to challenge his firing.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 2, 2007