K98.3 radio hosts Steve Harper, Leeana Karlson suspended for Baldwin party RSVP hoax

The pair said they made it up to “spur healthy discourse on a highly passionate topic.” (2/17/14)

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FARMINGDALE - The Long Island radio hosts behind a hoax involving an anti-gay birthday party RSVP have been suspended indefinitely.

Last week, Steve Harper and Leeana Karlson, hosts of the K98.3 morning show, posted a photo of an invitation to a 7-year-old girl's birthday party on the station's Facebook page. The invite had supposedly been sent by two gay Baldwin dads who were throwing a party for their daughter. The photo of the invite posted by the station had been scrawled with an anti-gay response supposedly from another child's mother that included statements such as, "I will not subject my innocent son to your 'lifestyle.'"

The hoax post quickly spread on the Internet, outraging people across Long Island and the country, but several days later, Harper and Karlson admitted the story was "totally fictitious." They apologized and said they made it up to "spur a healthy discourse on a highly passionate topic."

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The two did not host their usual morning show today, and the station instead aired a message apologizing for the stunt, noting that the station's management was not aware of and does not condone the two hosts' actions.

Radio industry expert Dan Cox says that for years, morning DJs have concocted elaborate stunts and gags to entertain listeners, but in this case, the duo may have stepped over the line because the invitation ordeal seemed too real.

"While they didn't do anything illegal, they certainly did do something that I think borders on unethical," Cox says.

It is unknown when Harper and Karlson will return to the air, but David Kilmnick, chief executive officer of the Long Island GLBT Network, says he will be sitting down with the pair this week to discuss the issue.

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