Two local announcers from Iowa have been fired after racist commentary streamed online before a high school basketball game.
Last week, ahead of a game between Eagle Grove and Forest City, announcer Orin Harris and producer Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt were caught discussing Eagle Grove's "Español people," eventually going as far as to say that they hoped they would "go back from where they came from."
The two were not yet being broadcast live on radio station KIOW, but the online broadcast of the game picked up their chatter.
An Eagle Grove student recorded audio from the stream.
Deadspin logged a transcript of the discussion, which began with Harris going through the names he would have to remember for the broadcast:
Harris: The first three names we gotta remember are Enzo Gebara, Spencer Espejo, and Nikolas Padilla for Eagle Grove. They have a lot of ... um, apparently...
Kusserow-Smidt: Español people.
Harris: Español people in Eagle Grove.
Kusserow-Smidt: Gee, I wonder why that is?
Harris: I wonder why.
Kusserow-Smidt: But the latest there is that they’re just going to gradually come into town, yeah right.
Harris: Uh huh.
Kusserow-Smidt: Uh huh.
Harris: Gradually work their way in.
Kusserow-Smidt: Gradually work their way in … so, who are these people again?
Harris: Oh, you wanna know the names? Enzo Gebara, Spencer Espejo, and Nikolas Padilla.
Kusserow-Smidt: They sound like they’ve been here a while, given the first names.
Harris: Yea, I think they’ve been there. Padilla, I think that’s P-A-D-I-L-L-A.
Kusserow-Smidt: Yea, Padilla.
Harris: Padilla, something like that.
Harris: The there’s Chase Blasie, he sounds like he’s not a foreigner. Could be though.
Harris: They’re all foreigners.
Kusserow-Smidt: Exactly, all foreigners.
Harris: As Trump would say, go back where they came from.
Kusserow-Smidt: Well, some would say that, yeah, some days I feel like that too.
KIOW released a statement about the broadcast, announcing that it has fired both Harris and Kusserow-Smidt:
On Tuesday, November 28th, two employees of KIOW made comments that were insensitive, thoughtless and degrading to others. These comments were deplorable, and the staff and management of KIOW in no way condones or supports these comments.
These comments never aired on KIOW Radio. They did, however, appear on a video feed that appeared on a school website.
That night when we learned of these comments, we were in contact with the Eagle Grove School District and gathered information about the incident. On Thursday morning, November 30, a letter of apology was sent to school officials, along with details of our actions in regards to the two employees involved.
As a result, both employees have been fired from their positions with the station.
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.
According to the Des Moines Register, Kusserow-Smidt has also been placed on paid leave from her job as a third-grade teacher at Forest City Elementary School.