RALEIGH, N.C.—In a mind-boggling turn of events on Wednesday, someone working at a Boston sports radio station criticized the accent of a professional hockey writer from North Carolina.
Yes, someone in Boston criticized someone else’s accent.
WBZ-FM radio host Fred Toucher (real name Toettcher), who apparently has never sat through a Mark Wahlberg movie, was interviewing News & Observer sports writer Chip Alexander on Wednesday about the Carolina Hurricanes-Boston Bruins Eastern Conference Finals series, set to start Thursday night in Boston.
About four minutes into the interview for the Toucher & Rich Show, Toucher, a Detroit native who started his career in Georgia, hung up on Alexander saying, “I just can’t listen to a guy with a Southern accent talk about hockey.”
Alexander, who is in his 11th season as the Hurricanes beat writer, said he didn’t realize at first what was going on.
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“I thought we’d been disconnected — and I guess we had,” Alexander said Thursday morning.
After disconnecting Alexander, Toucher continued to mock Alexander’s accent on air, and the idea that someone from the South could be knowledgeable about hockey.
“When I saw later what happened, it’s a little offensive, obviously, for someone to say they hung up on you basically because they didn’t like your accent,” Alexander said. “If the information I was giving was bad or not very good, that would be another thing.”
Alexander is an award-winning sports writer who has worked at the News & Observer for 40 years.
“It was surprising to say the least,” he said.
Toucher went full “Masshole” on Thursday morning, devoting a good portion of his shock jock-style sports rambling to Alexander’s “hick accent.”
Alexander has given four or five such radio interviews this week, and this is the first act of Northern aggression he has encountered.
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When he found out on Wednesday what was going on, Alexander said he tried to blow it off.
“I didn’t tweet about it yesterday,” he said. “I just let it go.”
But others were tweeting and writing about the incident.
Greensboro sports radio host Josh Graham tweeted, “Just listened to this and it’s so Boston sports radio it hurts.” Then, “I’ve heard some of @Toucherandrich’s stuff over the years and they’ve done some good work. But this is beyond disrespectful to a distinguished writer like @ice_chip and frankly, the type of bulls–t I’d expect a station like WEEI to pull.”
Adam Gold of Raleigh’s 99.9 The Fan tweeted: “This is so incredibly typical. Can’t wait to do the show from there on Friday.”
Alexander said before he went on Toucher’s program Wednesday, he was on hold and could hear them “really trashing Dougie Hamilton,” a Hurricanes defenceman. Alexander said they called him a “prick,” so for the first bit of the show, he was defending Hamilton.
This isn’t the first time North Carolinians have been the butt of jokes from Northerners who have taken swipes based on cultural stereotypes.
In 2002, when the Canes faced the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals, Detroit Free Press columnist and inspirational novelist Mitch Albom wrote a painfully hacky column in which he interviewed his “long-lost cousin Moonshine,” who was in handcuffs for the interview, and who talked with great ignorance of hockey and with great authority of life “in the penitentiary.”
In 2009, during the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy called Triangle residents “a bunch of goobers.”
So get ready, North Carolinians. The hack jobs are just starting.