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Talk show hosts suspended over use of racial slur

Thursday, July 16, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Facing a backlash from Austinites unsatisfied with the station’s apology for a racial slur uttered by talk show host Don Pryor, KLBJ AM announced that the “The Todd and Don Show” has been suspended for two weeks and both Todd Jeffries and Don Pryor have been suspended without pay.


Pryor, the son of legendary radio personality Cactus Pryor, used the term “wetback” repeatedly during Tuesday’s program. It was apparently an attempt at satirical humor that fell short of its mark.


 Council Member Mike Martinez told In Fact Daily he had talked to Scott T. Gillmore, Vice President & Market Manager for Emmis Austin Radio. Martinez said Gillmore “is going to call some community leaders and sit down and talk to them about how to make amends. The meeting should take place within a week. For me, I think they have the responsibility to point out that it was an inappropriate term and it offends a lot of people. I have no doubt that Emmis is taking this very seriously and will handle it appropriately.”


Asked whether he was trying to get Pryor fired, Martinez said, “Not at all.”


Joining Martinez in complaining to Emmis on Wednesday were the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association.


Frank Fuentes, Chairman of the USHCA, said, “In this day and age, it is disheartening to know that prejudice and ignorance continues to thrive in Austin, one of the most progressive cities in the United States.” The association sought an apology, but Fuentes said the association might go farther and lead a boycott of both the station and its advertisers, pointing out that Hispanic consumers in Austin spend nearly $9 billion annually.


On Wednesday, Pryor did apologize on the air. However, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce found the apology inadequate. Their written statement said, “We acknowledge KLBJ’s on-air apology, but we simply cannot see how his statements could be perceived as a joke. It was deliberate, malicious and it is inconceivable how in this modern day words loaded with such hate can be used with such ease and disregard for their impact on an entire community. We are disappointed and dismayed that Mr. Pryor felt compelled to use the most offensive term against Hispanics.”

After talking to Martinez, Fuentes and Chamber of Commerce Chair Blanca Garcia, KLBJ’s Gillmore said, “I fully understand and appreciate their concerns, and I believe that Todd and Don understand the depth of their mistake. We intend to continue to work with the community to turn this hurtful mistake into an opportunity for greater understanding.”

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