The host of a Charlotte FM radio station that sent a staff member aboard a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School bus as part of a prank Monday said this morning that the incident never was meant to be malicious.
"We thought it was pretty entertaining," said Brotha' Fred, host of the Morning Mayhem on WIBT-FM (96.1, the Beat). "We try to entertain in a way that some people will think was funny and some won't."
"But we had no malicious intent."
A staff member from the show, Jase Edward "Cubby" Squires, 26, was charged by police with causing a disturbance on a school bus. He was freed on $1,000 bond from the Mecklenburg County Jail overnight. Squires got aboard a bus headed to Southwest Middle School about 8:30 a.m. Monday and used his cell phone to be part of a live broadcast while he rode briefly.
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Squires got off the bus at the next stop.
Bud Cesena, head of law enforcement for CMS, said the school system had decided to file charges.
The bus driver who let Squires on the bus has been suspended with pay while CMS investigates, Superintendent Peter Gorman said.
Squires, going by the radio name Cubby, went to a random bus stop around 8 a.m. Monday to see if he could get on. He chatted by cell phone with staff at the radio station, while asking parents where the bus was going.
The studio staff joked about whether he'd be allowed on the bus or whether anyone would turn him in.
"Tell me how that police car rides when you're riding in the back," one member of the show's cast told him.
When the bus arrived, a tape of the program captures Cubby asking the female driver whether this was the right bus for Southwest, getting confirmation, and boarding. He got off at the next stop, as the studio personalities howled with laughter and speculated on whether he was breaking any laws.
"You're 26 years old and you're on the bus with a bunch of 7-year-olds!" one on-air personality exclaimed.
On this morning's program, Brotha' Fred, Christopher Frederick, said he finds it difficult to believe that Cubby could have gotten on the bus. And he suggested that while the prank angered some people, it also raises security questions for CMS.
"I can't believe that a 26-year-old man -- 300 pounds, in jeans -- could get on a bus with middle school kids in uniforms," Brotha' Fred said. "That is the real issue."
He and two other hosts of the program said they never expected Cubby to be permitted on the bus. They said they thought the driver would forbid him from boarding.
Still, Brotha' Fred said he realizes the prank bothered some people.
"I realize there are people who are upset," he said.
"It was a prank that went one step too far," he added.
He said the decision for the prank was his, and he realizes that decision could cost him a job.
"We'll have to see where this goes," Brotha' Fred said.
Gorman called the stunt "irresponsible," and he questioned why parents at the stop didn't do more to stop Squires or turn him in. "At some point in time, parents have to bear responsibility."