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A meteorologist at a Rochester, N.Y., news station was fired Monday after the city’s mayor and other viewers called for his dismissal for using what sounded like a racial slur during the broadcast.
While talking Friday about an ice rink at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, WHEC meteorologist Jeremy Kappell appeared to use a slur in the middle of King’s name. While the mayor wanted Kappell off the job, others argued that he had simply fumbled his words.
Kappell tweeted Monday that he has “never uttered those words.” He also retweeted a story by radio personality Bob Lonsberry arguing that he may have been tongue-tied, which would make it an “honest and innocent mistake.”
Rochester radio station 95.1 reported Monday that Kappell had been fired, and he confirmed the news in a tweet responding to a supporter. Kappell declined Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for a comment.
“Thank you for your patience during this very difficult time for me and my family,” he told Yahoo.
When word of the broadcast spread, Mayor Lovely Warren called for the station — an NBC affiliate — to fire the meteorologist.
“It is wrong, hurtful and infuriating that WHEC Channel 10 broadcast a racial slur in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its Friday News broadcast,” a press release from the city of Rochester read. “It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur.”
The Rochester Association of Black Journalists issued a statement condemning the “clearly racist language” and asking for a “complete explanation” from WHEC.
The station’s vice president and general manager, Richard Reingold, apologized in a statement.
“This word has no place on News10NBC’s air, and the fact that we broadcast it disheartens and disgusts me; that it was not caught immediately is inexcusable,” Reingold said. “I regret that we did not immediately interrupt our broadcast and apologize on the spot.”
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