The remarks by KIOW play-by-play announcer Orin Harris and his in-studio broadcast producer made reference to Latino players for Eagle Grove via the online sports streaming service known as the Cube.
Eagle Grove Superintendent Jess Tolliver says he found out about the issue that same evening. He says the Forest City Schools called him and he also talked to Forest City station manager that night. The comments that were made were on the video feed that appeared on a school website and never aired on the radio. He says the radio station acted quickly.
“I did receive an apology letter from the radio station saying that they don’t condone this type of practice. And that the employees had been disciplined — one had been fired, one suspended. As of now the other one has been fired as well,” Tolliver says.
The radio station posted a statement the station’s website that says: “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.”
KIOW general manager Karl Wooldridge says that is their only statement on the issue.
The announcer comments said there were lot of “Español people” in Eagle Grove and questioned whether some of the players were “foreigners” based on their names. They also referenced the Prestage Foods pork plant that is under construction and speculated that’s whether that’s why there are Latino players on the Eagle Grove team. Tolliver says he has told everyone for some time that the Latino students have done a lot for the entire town.
“Diversity has been great for our school, it has been great for our community,” Tolliver says. “Our school was seeing declining enrollment. Our school had the opportunity to get some employment in here that brought diversity and it filled back up our classrooms. It’s helped our sports teams. It’s helped our community survive. It’s also put us in a position to see growth.”
Tolliver says they haven’t had anyone move into the district because of the Prestage plant.
“They haven’t started hiring yet, but as they start to hire people will move in and we want to have a welcoming environment for them — not only in Eagle Grove, but the entire area,” Tolliver says. “I believe because we’ve had that in the past, that’s one reason they selected our area and they are bringing jobs to our area.”
Tolliver will be meeting with the students to talk about last Tuesday’s incident.
KIMT TV is reporting the board operator who was fired from the radio station is Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt. The station reports Kusserow-Smidt has been placed on administrative leave by the Forest City School District, where she is a teacher. Woolridge says he cannot confirm that Kusserow-Smidt is the employee because it is a personnel matter.