Howard Stern calls out staffer for 'racist' BTS, coronavirus comments

Howard Stern, of the much-beloved The Howard Stern Show, is no stranger to crude remarks or controversy, but even he drew the line after one of his so-called “a–hole” staffers, Salvatore (Sal) Governale, suggested global K-Pop sensation BTS was carrying the new coronavirus.

The critically acclaimed broadcaster was among many — including the BTS Army and his own listeners — to criticize the show’s longtime writer and “Phony Phone Caller” earlier this week after making a “racist” remark about the South Korean septet, according to Variety.

Along with co-host Robin Quivers, Governale and some of his other frequent, comedic guests, Stern, 66 — who is an avid germaphobe — spoke about the outbreak of COVID-19 and the global concern surrounding its rapid spread during Monday’s episode of the SiriusXM radio show.

Stern used the topic of conversation as a way to call out Governale for a comment he made previously, claiming that BTS and their team had put the staff at risk of catching the virus during a visit to Sirius’s New York City headquarters last Friday.

BTS accept Top Duo/Group during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nev.

BTS accept Top Duo/Group during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for dcp

“BTS is from Korea and Sal was freaking out,” said Stern on-air of his co-worker’s coronavirus concerns. “ here on Friday and Sal was saying, ‘There’s no way those guys don’t have the coronavirus.’”

“He was like every a–hole,” added the host, reminding his listeners that the virus was spawned out of China and not South Korea — where BTS are based.


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“I’m super paranoid about diseases and germs, but you came off as racist,” said Stern to Governale, who has appeared on the show since 1996.

In response to being called out, Governale brazenly re-iterated his remarks. He said: “These people are travelling, they’re not locals, they’re going from country, to country, to country. It’s a dangerous situation. You got to look at it that way — they’re on airplanes, they’re in hotels.”

“I walked into the lobby and it was like Chinatown,” he added. “Out of control. There were so many Asian people.”

Writer for 'The Howard Stern Show' Sal Governale attends the Howard 101 Comic-Con Party at Bootleggers on July 24, 2014 in San Diego, Calif.

Writer for 'The Howard Stern Show' Sal Governale attends the Howard 101 Comic-Con Party at Bootleggers on July 24, 2014 in San Diego, Calif.

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Quivers, 67, chimed in with her own perspective saying that BTS “are touring all the time,” as any other musical guest on The Howard Stern Show tends to be.

Longtime producer Gary Dell’Abate backed Quivers’ comment, adding, “Every celebrity who walks through the door is travelling all over the world… not just Asians.”


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Upon hearing Governale’s comments, a mass wave of angered BTS fans and Howard Stern Show listeners took to social media expressing frustration, calling the writer things like “xenophobic” and “disgusting.”

“I got so many emails about what an idiot you are for avoiding a Korean boy band,” said Stern to Governale on-air.

Here’s what some Twitter fans had to say about the “racist” remarks:

https://twitter.com/Besos_31/status/1232576470842736640

https://twitter.com/JesseBi55705844/status/1232312745401339909

“Hey Sal, I’m Chinese, so obviously I’m laced with the coronavirus. I hope you don’t mind if I drop by your office sometime this week and sneeze in your f–king face,” tweeted another infuriated user.


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Though the Boy with Luv singers’ fans, for the most part, have spoken for them already, BTS has not yet made comment regarding the controversy.

BTS’ appearance on The Howard Stern Show will air next week in conjunction with the release of their seventh and latest album, Map of the Soul: 7.

The album is now available worldwide through all major streaming platforms.

Additionally, physical variants of Map of the Soul: 7  can now be purchased online.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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