Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State fire marshal, state attorney look at WFLZ-FM radio stunt gone bad

TAMPA — A turkey-frying stunt Friday by the MJ Morning Show injured a firefighter, destroyed a van and alarmed fire department officials, who say the intentional blaze was unauthorized.

Tampa fire spokesman Capt. Bill Wade said he was "very disappointed."

Officials from WFLZ-FM 93.3 were not available to comment.

The DJs used a crane to drop a turkey carcass through the open roof of a plumbing van that had a vat of burning oil inside. An inflatable snowman stood near the van's open side doors. Clear Channel broadcast the whole thing live from its studio parking lot at 4202 Gandy Blvd.

For the first few minutes, the broadcast focused on a large silver pot smoking on a burner inside the open van. Then the smoke turned to flames that shot through the van's roof.

When the turkey finally reached the pot, flames engulfed the van. Radio employees ran around the van, first laughing, then trying to put it out with handheld fire extinguishers.

"How we going to put this thing out?" one DJ asked.

"I don't know," said another, laughing.

Tampa firefighters soon arrived in full gear and began spraying down the van. Wade said Capt. Ken Licata, 47, a 26-year veteran of the fire department, hurt his back during the incident and was hospitalized.

"Capt. Licata was wearing his full firefighting gear, and in pulling the [hoses] off the truck, he injured his back," Wade explained.

Licata went home several hours later but was not available for interviews, Wade said.

Initial reports said a Clear Channel employee was injured, but fire crews said they did not treat anyone other than Licata, and radio station officials said no staff members were hurt.

Wade said the station did not have a permit for the stunt, nor emergency crews on standby.

"I am not happy," Wade said.

He said officials from the State Fire Marshal's Office are handing the investigation over to the State Attorney's Office to determine if charges should be filed.

The State Attorney's Office said it will not be able to determine if there will be any charges until the fire marshal's investigated is completed.

Someone who answered the cell phone for DJ MJ, or Todd Schnitt, declined to comment. Other WFLZ representatives were not available.

According to the show's Web site, "Management wasn't very happy with how Fester (a character on the radio show) handled the situation so they removed him from the morning show."

In a later statement, the station said: "Like we've done several times in the past, our intent was to show how dangerous it is to cook a turkey in this type of situation. We were prepared to extinguish a modest fire. Once the fire got out of control, we quickly called the fire department.''

Several years ago, WFLZ got permission from Tampa Fire Rescue to set a trailer on fire, Wade said. One of the station's interns was in firefighting school, and the DJs wanted to demonstrate what she'd learned.

That time, the station went through all the correct avenues before the stunt. "We did it right," Wade said.

After that, Wade said there was an understanding that the station needed permission anytime DJs planned to set anything on fire.

But about a year ago, Wade said WFLZ planned another stunt without letting authorities know. They wanted to put a bunch of fireworks in a stove and heat them up to see if they'd light. They didn't go through with it, Wade said.

"Now, today we're down here with a grease fire inside a van," Wade said. "This was not a public service, this was not an educational demonstration. This was a stunt."

Wade added, "It was just dangerous all around."

State fire marshal, state attorney look at WFLZ-FM radio stunt gone bad 12/18/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2009 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  2. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

    Accidents

    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  3. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child

    News

    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  4. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it

    News

    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Senate health care bill would be disastrous for Florida

    Editorials

    The frantic effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something — anything — ranks raw politics over sound policy and threatens the health care of millions of Floridians. It is a desperate attempt to declare victory by shifting responsibility from the federal government …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks in August in Doral.