11:33 GMT +315 October 2019
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    ‘They're All Foreigners': Radio Announcer, Producer Fired For Racist Banter

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    Two radio station employees were handed their pink slips Monday after management officials at KIOW Radio caught wind of their racist banter during coverage of a high school basketball game in Iowa.

    The incident, which took place November 28, happened when sports broadcaster Orin Harris and producer Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt were talking about the "Español people" that were on Eagle Grove High School's basketball team.

    The comments were streamed seconds before the Eagle Grove-Forest City High School game was scheduled to begin, according to WHOTV.

    "The first three names we gotta remember are Enzo Gebara, Spencer Espejo, and Nikolas Padilla for Eagle Grove," Harris says, adding, "They have a lot of… um, apparently…"

    "Español people," Kusserow-Smidt interjects. "Gee, I wonder why that is?"

    The conversation then quickly turns to speculation about the national origins of various players on the team.

    "There's Chase Blasi, he sounds like he's not a foreigner. Could be though," said Harris before adding, "They're all foreigners."

    But in 2017, what conversation about race and national origin in America would be complete without the 45th president?

    "As Trump would say, go back where they came from," said Harris.

    "Well, some would say that, yeah, some days I feel like that too," Kusserow-Smidt chimed in.

    Though the conversation was not broadcast live on the radio, KIOW revealed it was streamed online onto "a school website," but did not specify which site.

    "These comments were deplorable, and the staff and management of KIOW in no way condones or supports these comments," the station said in a statement. "KIOW Radio has a long history of promoting and supporting student athletes, coaches and schools. As a company, we take great pride in spotlighting the great efforts of our local citizens, schools and communities, and we will demand that all company employees adhere to this policy."

    Though the radio producer has kept mum on the incident, Harris, a 40-year veteran with the station, has released a statement that says he feels "terrible" for what happened.

    "I sincerely apologize for the nature of the conversation that took place," Harris told KIMT News. "This is not who I am… I feel absolutely terrible, I certainly did not want my broadcasting career to end this way."

    "It was just off-the-cuff talking about the names from Eagle Grove… I wasn't trying to make fun of them," Harris added. "[B]ut it mushroomed out of hand with the way we were talking and it just didn't sound right… it wasn't right."

    Eagle Grove Superintendent Jess Toliver later indicated that the matter would be deemed a "teaching point."

    "How do we make people aware of all the good things?" Toliver asked KIMT News. "Let's look at the positives of diversity. Without diversity, we have a lot less students, we aren't as vibrant. Diversity has been something that has saved our community."

    Harris was initially suspended from the station prior to the Monday announcement from KIOW. Kusserow-Smidt, who also works as a teacher for the Forest City School District, was placed on administrative leave on top of her dismissal from the station.


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