FOREST CITY | Eagle Grove Community School District received two apology letters — one from KIOW Radio and one from Forest City Community School District — after two radio employees made racist comments during a Forest City boys basketball game last week.
The apologies were directed toward the school district and basketball team.
The KIOW letter was sent Nov. 29 by station manager Karl Wooldridge and station owner Jim Coloff.
“For 40 years, it has been the policy of KIOW Radio to never make negative comments regarding the play or coaching of any high school player or team during a radio play-by-play broadcast,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, comments were made on Nov. 28 that did not meet those standards. In fact, comments made were not only negative, they were offensive and insensitive, and do not reflect, in any way, our business beliefs or employees as a whole.”
Two radio announcers, longtime sports announcer Orin Harris and producer Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt, can be heard commenting Nov. 28 about multiple players on the Eagle Grove basketball team, seemingly mocking their Latino names.
"As Trump would say, go back where they came from," Harris said at the end of the video.
"Well, some would say that, yeah," Kusserow-Smidt responds. "Some days I feel like that too."
The comments did not air on KIOW but were available on The Cube, an online streaming service used by Forest City to supplement live video coverage of events.
In the apology letter issued by KIOW, Wooldridge and Coloff state that Kusserow-Smidt had been fired, while Harris would complete "diversity and sensitivity training" and be suspended. That changed Monday as word of the incident spread — Harris was also fired.
Forest City Schools identified Kusserow-Smidt as a district employee and stated that she has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Superintendent Darwin Lehmann, in the school district's apology letter, said measures will be taken to prevent anything of this nature happening in future broadcasts.
“Although the comments were not made by Forest City Community School personnel, we do not condone nor support the comments and we are sorry for any issues that may have been caused to your student's, school or the community of Eagle Grove,” the letter said.
Eagle Grove Schools Superintendent Jess Toliver told the Globe Gazette Monday that Forest City did nothing wrong in this incident.